I’m a 70’s baby so I grew up watching Sylvester Stallone in Rocky, Arnold Schwarzenegger in Commando and Terminator, and of course Lou Ferrigno in The Incredible Hulk. All of which left a lasting impression on me. Even today I can be found walking cardio to “Eye of the Tiger.” As a youngster I played football, wrestled, ran track and became a pretty good athlete along the way. During my 11th grade football season I was being recruited by the University of Florida as a wide receiver/kick returner. However, I played tailback in high school and was rather determined to do the same thing not just at a division one college but expressly at UF. Both coach Spurrier and Franks kept telling me, “You have great speed but you just aren’t big enough to run between the tackles.” Unphased, I attended a recruitment trip to see the Gators take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. After the game I was invited into the locker room to meet some of the players and I came upon Eric Rhett, the starting running back just sitting in his locker – probably weighing in at 215 and all man. At this time, I’m probably 16 years old and maybe 165 lbs soaking wet, and in that moment I understood in a way that I had not previously that perhaps I wasn’t quite big enough to run between the tackles. Fortunately later that spring, my 4 x 100m relay went on to win a state track and field title, and eventually I earned a track scholarship to the University of South Florida.
Fast forward 15 years and after finishing up my masters degree, I suddenly had all this extra time on my hands. No more essays or tests but looking for new challenges, I was in my thirties and still looked very much like that kid in the UF locker room. So I joined a gym and began weight training. For the first year or so simply by Iifting consistently my body changed a little, and I grew some but not with real intention. I knew, however that I was a pretty good student, and I might see more and better results if I treated weight training like a class and studied. So I began to research; I would read the magazines cover to cover and even keep them to reference later. I began integrating supplements and over the next year gained about 12 lbs of muscle, which may not sound like a lot but was rather striking on my frame. About that time I began to get asked routinely – do you compete? While I found it flattering and an interesting endeavor, I had not seriously considered it. However over the next two years, I continued to lift steadily and really came to love it. And the old adage is true…breakups make bodybuilders. After exiting a seven year relationship, I really threw myself into the gym, and two things happened. The first being the prettiest woman at our gym sent someone to chat me up because she was too shy to do so herself, (and up to that point nothing like that had ever happened to me before) and we eventually began seeing one another. The second thing that happened was very similar yet totally different. One morning after a particularly intense workout and shower, I’m standing in a towel getting dressed for work and this big guy (who I knew to compete) approached me and said, “Hey if you ever decide to compete, I think you would do well.” Now those of you who follow me on the socials know I have a pretty healthy self esteem, and I responded in true Travales’ fashion with, “Me too.” He then went on to say if you ever decided to show in a show, I would gladly help you. That evening I went home and asked my new pretty girl what she thought; she signed off and wanting to impress her I eagerly accepted his offer.
As a result, he wrote me a generic diet and I followed it for about a month; it was difficult because I had never dieted for anything ever before. I then showed up to my first show and while backstage, I befriended some guys and they asked if I was ready. I replied, “I think so” (not really having a point of reference). One guy then requested to see my abs; when I flashed them everyone was roundly impressed. When the show began and while I was standing next to the expeditor I said, “You know I think I could do this professionally.” I’m sure I sounded like a tool. Nevertheless, I stepped on stage and literally from that first moment, it was absolutely for me. I wound up winning both my class and the overall, received two huge trophies and was hooked. I entered another show two weeks later and won there, too. Almost a year later to the date, I turned pro at Team Universe and the rest is history as they say. Along the way I’ve earned a Masters Physique Win and scored points for the Olympia Qualification Series. I’m still striving to put all the pieces together and finally earn that Olympia qualification.