I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing one of the very best natural bodybuilders around, Mr. Chidi Ekebere. I met this young man a few weeks ago and got to know him a little. I got to watch him train, ask dieting questions and to get inside his head a little. I was very impressed with how open and helpful he was to a complete stranger, as I am sure he gets tons of questions from onlookers. But he was more than eager to answer my questions and be as helpful as he could. I wanted to do a basic interview with Chidi so that Muscle & Strength could meet a truly amazing guy with a great attitude, a deep love for the fitness community and a big desire to see natural bodybuilding grow even more popular. I hope this article motivates others to train a little harder, diet little better and set realistic goals for themselves and reach them.
Matthew Eubanks: First off, I want to say thank you Chidi for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview for us. We have been speaking over the past couple of weeks and I think it’s time for Muscle 7 Strength to meet Chidi Ekebere! You totally impressed me the first day I saw you in the gym bro. You were so focused on your training and it seemed nothing could distract you. Then I saw you flexing your quads... wow… talk about beef! You have one of the very best physiques I have ever seen on a natural bodybuilder… hell even better than most non-tested bodybuilders!
Chidi Ekebere: Thank you very much, Matt for the opportunity to do this interview with you. I am very honored by your compliments and I appreciate them dearly.
Matthew Eubanks: Let's start off with some basic background information about you Chidi. Who are you? Where are you from? Are you married? What do you do for a living?
Chidi Ekebere: My name is Chidi Ekebere. I'm an IFPA natural professional bodybuilder. I have been competing in bodybuilding shows since 2009. I have competed with the NANBF, and I am currently competing with the International Fitness and Physique Association (IFPA), which is the professional category to the NANBF. Prior to bodybuilding, I played soccer in Nigeria, United Kingdom (UK), and South Korea. I also picked up boxing while living in Europe. I'm currently a student at Kansas City Metropolitan Colleges, and are pursuing a degree in Physical Therapy with hopes to achieve a doctorate in this field eventually.
I am also a certified professional fitness trainer and offer nutritional guidance. I am not married. I reside in Kansas City, Missouri, where I have loving and supporting family and friends. I am a native of the Eastern part of Nigeria, born in a family of eight kids, four older brothers and three older sisters. Being the youngest in my family, I could never do no wrong in my mom's eyes, so I got my behind handed to me a lot by my brothers. I knew I had to do something to change that, so I began weight training in my early days of high school to get big and stronger, which also helped me to hold my own at the soccer field while playing against bigger and older guys.
I entered high school weighing 130lbs and did not have that much muscle. I began to get serious in my weight training in 2001 when I picked up boxing in England. I knew a couple of bodybuilders at my boxing gym at the time who approached me about competing in bodybuilding, but I declined because I didn't like the idea of, like my mom would put it "Wearing Thongs" in front of people. However, after having many conversations with my also natural bodybuilder closest friend, Joshua Davis, I got out of my little box and decided to begin competing and have not looked back ever since.
I began competing with the NANBF in 2009, and won the 2009 Natural Missouri Men's short Class and Overall Title. Soon thereafter, I won my natural pro card with the IFPA by winning my class and the Overall Title at the NANBF Natural Nutri-Sport Central Midwest America. My biggest accomplishments in natural bodybuilding to date are winning my pro card, and winning the Overall Championship Title of the IFPA Men's Pro Bowl in New York on April 10, 2010.
Matthew Eubanks: If you had to describe yourself as a kid would you say you were an overweight child or slender child?
Chidi Ekebere: I grew up playing soccer, and was involved in many sporting activities such as playing basketball and volleyball even though I was about the shortest kid out there. I don't recall being an overweight child but I sure recall being the smallest and skinniest, especially around my brothers and their friends.
Matthew Eubanks: Can you tell us a little bit about your educational background, and what you are studying right now?
Chidi Ekebere: I moved around a bit growing up, I obtained my high school diploma in Nigeria, and attended Yonsei University in Seoul Korea for a two year pre-college education while playing soccer, and concentrated on studying Languages, mainly Korean. I moved on to a business school in London, England and studied Management with Business Information Systems at Middlesex University. I am currently pursuing a degree in Physical Therapy at Kansas City Metropolitan colleges with long term goal of achieving my doctorate degree (DPT) in this field.
Matthew Eubanks: What was the reaction of your family and friends when you told them you wanted to be a professional bodybuilder? Did they think it was crazy or were they supportive?
Chidi Ekebere: Lol. Well, my 1st lady (mom) is a very dedicated Christian and an old school African parent. She is so dedicated to the Will of God, I remember as a kid waking her up in the middle of the night for food and she tried to prove there was a place in the Bible where it says Thou Shall Not Wake Your Mother up while she's asleep. I was like for real ma? had to shake my head for that one, man!
Anyway, she already thought I had way too much muscles prior to bodybuilding and said women would be scared of that type of body. So, when I told her that I will be competing in bodybuilding, the look on her face...priceless. I thought the devil was going come get me right there and then. She asked "How do you think God will feel about exposing your body like that wearing thongs in front of the whole world?" I said ma, just pray for me and God will understand.
Isn't she something, man!? lol. She got over it though. Other than that, everyone else was cool with it.
Matthew Eubanks: What is your training like right now? Would you say you primarily stay within a certain rep range or do you change it up and do some heavy days as well as light days?
Chidi Ekebere: I train 5-6 days a week, depending on my work and class schedule. I usually train between 2 - 2.5 hours a day and concentrate on single muscle groups. I always change my program around every 2 - 3 weeks to avoid my body getting too used to the same workout program.
Matthew Eubanks: Does your training change depending on if you are getting ready for a contest or if it is the off-season?
Chidi Ekebere: During my off-season, I try to concentrate on developing my overall physique so I tend to lift a little heavier and and shoot for higher reps. I decrease the weight and increase my reps during contest prep.
Matthew Eubanks: What is your diet like right now? Do you carb cycle, low carb, no carb… how do you get so lean man?
Chidi Ekebere: Well, I am in preparation for a competition in Minnesota right now, so I'm on a very low carb/fat diet and very high protein. Bodybuilding is an individualistic sport and everyone's body reacts differently. It is important to understand your body and know exactly what works for you. I include complex carbs in my pre-workout and post-workout meals and shift to fibrous carbs and high protein for the rest of the day.
Matthew Eubanks: Do you currently use any supplements? If so, what do you use and why?
Chidi Ekebere: I sometimes take a pre-workout supplement for immediate source of energy and post-workout supplement again for immediate source of energy that also helps in repairing damaged muscle tissues. I do not have a particular name brand, as I rely mostly on my regular meals to get all the nutrients my body needs for optimal functioning.
Matthew Eubanks: If you had to give just one of your secrets to bodybuilding success, what is your best piece of advice/information for everyone?
Chidi Ekebere: Not doing more than average is what keeps the average down, so if you are going to do it, do it right. Ability plus persistence will eventually equal success. Stay consistent and have fun with whatever you do. Talk less, do more. Believe in your own ability. Bodybuilding and staying healthy is a life long journey. There will be forks in the road along the way, and that's part of life. It is how you handle them that is important. Most importantly, bodybuilding is very individualistic and everyone's physique is different, so try not to compare yourself to others. The best way to monitor your progression is through yourself from year to year. Always put in 110% in everything you do so that when someone else shows up with 100%, you still got 10% on them.
Matthew Eubanks: Can you tell us a little bit about your first contest and the things that went through your head both before and after the contest? Were you nervous?
Chidi Ekebere: Well, I was not nervous but I was a little out of my comfortable zone showing up in front of this big ole crowd in "Thongs." I was very honored by the reaction I received from the crowd both at the pre-judging and when I came out for my individual routine at the evening show. That made me feel good and comfortable and I had fun with it. The only thing that was going on through my head after the event was simply Food.
Matthew Eubanks: Can you tell us a little bit about the contest that gave you your pro-card? What was going through your head when you found out you got your first pro-card?
Chidi Ekebere: I obtained my Pro-card at the Natural NANBF Nutri-Sport central Midwest America bodybuilding competition in Des Moines, Iowa. I competed against guys that came out looking their very best and every class looked pretty solid, and I was fortunate to win my class and the Overall to earn my pro status. It never really sunk in till about two weeks later when I received my pro card in the mail and I gradually realized that I was a pro natural bodybuilder.
Matthew Eubanks: Do you have any upcoming contests that you are getting ready for?
Chidi Ekebere: I recently won the IFPA Men's Pro Bowl Championships in New York on April 10, 2010, and I am preparing for the IFPA Pro North American Championships in Minnesota this May 22. I am also hoping for some sponsorships so that I can do a few more shows before heading to Washington D.C. in October for the Yorton Cup World Championships.
Matthew Eubanks: What is your ultimate goal in the sport of bodybuilding? Do you see yourself ever stepping on the Natural Olympia stage?
Chidi Ekebere: My goal is to continue to train hard, grow in bodybuilding and also as a person. My other goal is to continue to strive to be the best I can possibly be in natural bodybuilding and most importantly as a person. I'd like to some day become an ambassador for the sport and use the opportunity to educate and help people in fighting obesity epidemic faced here in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. I see myself stepping on any stage and I personally do not think that the stage name makes that much of a difference because whatever stage you compete on, you will face a bunch of guys that have worked just as hard as you have if not harder.
Matthew Eubanks: Being a natural bodybuilder, you have one of the most well conditioned physiques on stage. I mean you are one ripped guy! I am amazed at how deep the cuts are on you and the vascularity is insane. In your opinion, how hard is it to get cut up for a show?
Chidi Ekebere: Again Matt, thanks for these compliments you are pouring me with. I have been bulky before and I really didn't like that bulky stuff (look) because it was just uncomfortable to carry all that weight and expensive to maintain. I really try not to put on so much weight in my off-season. I stay between 10 - 15lbs above my contest weight in the off-season and I strive to ensure they are quality muscle weight. I try to stay lean, flexible, and fast, especially when I'm not competing because it is not just about bodybuilding to me but also to be, feel, and look healthy.
Matthew Eubanks: If there was one thing you could change about the sport of bodybuilding, what would it be?
Chidi Ekebere: I would make natural bodybuilding a mainstream/household sport that can be viewed on televisions like other major sports so that people that are unaware of the sport of natural bodybuilding can understand what it takes to be a natural bodybuilder and also use that avenue to lead people towards eating healthier and living a better and more active lifestyle.
Matthew Eubanks: Is there anyone you would like to thank for helping you get to where you are today?
Chidi Ekebere: First of, thanks to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the many blessings and opportunities that have changed my life. I thank you Lord for allowing me to share my experiences with others and be an inspiration for many. I truly believe that I can achieve greatness with you in my life. I would like to thank my parents for pushing me to be the very best at everything I do, but most importantly being a class act. You thought me that hard work ethic, persistency, dedication, honesty and being compassionate will promote a greater sense of well being, while attaining goals.
Thanks to my brothers and sisters (Rowland, Edna, Kingsley, Ngozi, Azuka, Onyeka, and Emeka) and the entire Ekebere's family for your everlasting love and support. A special thanks to my second family (Lisa Giangreco & Daunte Howard, Joshua & Kristy Davis, and Timothy Cade) for your selfless and supportive attitude. To my friends (Matthew & Shelly Eubanks, Abu Shabaz, Chris Wambu, Allex Mbuya, Godfrey Makundi, ElRoy Carr, Lyndsey Wickham, and Christopher Ifemechie) for being oh so solid friends. To all my friends back in Africa, Europe, Asia, Kansas City, and all around the U.S. thank you so much. If I have left anyone out, I apologize, but please know that I thank you from the bottom of my heart also for supporting my efforts in life. My life without every single one of you is like Corn Flakes with no milk. Thanks!
Matthew Eubanks: Thank you again, Chidi for doing this interview for us. I'm sure everyone will enjoy reading this interview! I wish you the best of luck in everything you do. I am confident you will reach all the goals you have set for yourself and I believe you have a very bright future ahead of you man. Good luck and God bless you.
Chidi Ekebere: Thank you very much, Matt for the opportunity to do this interview with you and thanks for your kind compliments. I wish you the very best in everything you do, also. Good luck and God bless you and yours, too. Be peaceful!
Matthew Eubanks: If you would like to contact Chidi regarding personal training, nutrition advice, and/or sponsorship or to just show your support, you may reach him at email@example.com and visit his web site at www.chidiekebere.com