We’ve all seen and read about amazing bodybuilding transformations. We’re familiar with the before and after pictures, the diet tips, the constant repetition that there is no “secret” to getting contest-ready; just staying dedicated and putting the work in.
It’s always motivational to see, but the story tends to pan out the same way every time: overweight person wants to get fit, overweight person starts working out, overweight person dials in their diet, overweight person is suddenly no longer overweight but shredded, spray tanned, and posing with a sword they received for winning a bodybuilding competition.
These stories are so dime-a-dozen that they rarely stick with us, but that sentiment doesn’t hold true Collin Clark’s case. The 22-year-old Louisville native underwent a massive transformation himself, losing 62 pounds and gaining serious muscle in just over a year.
So what makes his story so remarkable? The fact that it’s more about friendship and overcoming obstacles – which, in Clark’s case, was being born with Down syndrome – than it is about bitching about how hard it is to eat chicken breast seven times a day. And yes, you read that right: Clark has Down syndrome, and now, thanks to coach Glenn Ubelhor, a chiseled body.
So how did it all happen? According to Ubelhor, Collin was a familiar face at the bodybuilding coach’s local gym, where he worked part-time behind the front desk. The two were familiar with each other but didn’t interact much – Collin didn’t work out all that often, and Ubelhor was usually too zoned in preparing for an upcoming bodybuilding show to socialize much.
Part of that preparation included practicing posing in one of the spare exercise rooms, and it was during his posing sessions that Ubelhor attracted Collin’s attention. Clark saw the gym regular working through his posing routine, and, when the exercise rooms were empty, would try to emulate them, following the observed routine to a t. Ubelhor had no idea that he had a fan in Clark, until a fellow front desk worker told him that Clark was working on his posing, too.
“When he told me that I had goosebumps everywhere, I went up to [Collin] and started talking to him and we became buddies and just started working out together,” remembers Ubelhor. Ubelhor volunteered his time and extensive bodybuilding knowledge to Clark, creating a custom workout plan for his protégé to follow and giving him diet advice as well. Big Macs from McDonald’s were replaced with “egg whites, chicken, ground turkey” and other lean proteins, as Clark began his contest prep.
After eight months, he had dropped a whopping 62 pounds, and developed a ton of muscle – and in the process, made a new best friend. He says of Ubelhor that, “From the bottom of my heart, he is the most grateful person I’ve ever met…he’s like a brother to me.”
It’s hard not to be inspired by Collin Clark’s story. He has the heart, commitment, and desire to help others that we find so endearing, and shows definitively you can overcome any obstacle life has to throw at you. We wish him and his friend/mentor/coach all the best, and can’t wait to see him on stage again in the future – after reading his story, it should come as no surprise that Collin says he plans to keep bodybuilding.