Coon Rapids resident Ron Bohan began lifting weights in the 1970s, just
as the bodybuilding pastime really began to take off thanks to Arnold
Schwarzenegger and of course, the original Incredible Hulk himself Lou
By Jason Olson
Coon Rapids resident Ron Bohan began lifting weights in the 1970s, just as the bodybuilding pastime really began to take off thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger and of course, the original Incredible Hulk himself Lou Ferrigno.
Coon Rapids resident Ron Bohan is looking to add to his collection of trophies as he enters his fourth decade of competitive bodybuilding. Photo by Jason Olson.
Instead of trying to trick himself into the world of steroids and artificially inflating his muscles, Bohan wanted to build his muscles the old-fashioned way – through hard work and sweat and he entered his first body building competition in 1975.
Placing third in that event, it hooked him into the sport that rewarded larger pecs, triceps and biceps, no matter the cost.
He continued lifting, entering and nearly winning bodybuilding competitions through 1981, but a fourth-place finish in the 1981 North Country Championships middleweight division suddenly turned Bohan off to the sport for the next 14 years.
He began competing in drug-tested competitions in 1980 and experienced more success, but the smaller prize money didn’t help keep him in the sport for very long.
Bohan took third in his first Central Region Natural Mr. America contest in 1980.
Unfortunately, the money still goes to the competitors with the largest muscles, where they can make upward of $70,000-100,000 through endorsements and event earnings compared with the natural lifters who can make $15,000-20,000 per year.
“Once you’ve been bitten by the iron bug, you’re hooked,” he said.
Instead of focusing on building the perfect body, he turned his attention to helping others through personal training first at Jesse Ventura’s Muscle Junction in Minneapolis from 1980 to 1983 before moving on to Northwest Swim and Racquet Club in Bloomington from 1984-1988.
He continues to train clients from his home through his Fitness for Healthy Living business.
After being away from the sport for over a dozen years, he returned to competition in 1995, taking fifth place in the middleweight division at the Minnesota Classic Natural Body Building Contest. Bohan finished third in the same contest in 1996.
Once again, Bohan took a leave from competition as the physical toll of working for the city of Minneapolis street department combined with the demands of training for competition became too much until last year.
After being in the crowd for the Gopher State competition as a 49-year-old last year, he started to get the competition bug again, just in time to enter the Masters Division (50 and over).
1980 Mr. Twin Cities, fourth place, middleweight
1980 Central Region, Natural Mr. America, third place, middleweight
1981 Gopher State, second place, middleweight
1981 North Country, fourth place, middleweight
1995 Minnesota Classic Natural Body Building Contest, fifth place, middleweight
1996 Minnesota Classic Natural Body Building Contest, third place, middleweight
2010 Mr. and Mrs. Natural Figure and Extreme Fit Contest, third place, middleweight
“I could tell from the photos of the winners that I could’ve placed third, fourth or fifth last year,” he said, as he began preparing for the May 21, 2010 contest in July 2009 or eight months before his 50th birthday.
Having lifted from his teenage years into his golden years now, Bohan said he notices the differences in his body as he hit the half-century mark, but that isn’t stopping him.
“You need to take a lot more supplements to make up for the nutrients you’ve lost,” he said.
This fall’s Masters Division competition might be the last, according to Bohan.
“It’s just so expensive to keep taking the supplements,” Bohan said.
That event is the 2010 NABF Northern States Natural Classic, Oct. 16.
What makes it a natural event is the participants are tested twice by a urine and polygraph test with the top players submitting another urine test following the competition.
Bohan takes a cocktail of free range amino acids, B vitamins and energy tablets to boost his strength during workout sessions.
“Once you reach your 30s your body starts producing less and less tetestrone so you want to buy supplements to keep building muscle,” he said, after learning how to properly train.
“But the key to get a lot of sleep or naps and supplements.”
Just because he didn’t give into peer pressure 30 years ago, doesn’t mean he wasn’t interested in steroids.
He tried it one time and felt the positive effects immediately.
“I still remember how it felt, I jumped like 30-40 pounds immediately, but I’m not sure how much of that was mental, but after a week I felt incredible working out, almost like hydraulics. I didn’t get tired,” he said.
At the same time, he believed every big name in the bodybuilding reached their goals by hard work and not by cutting corners with steroids and other drugs.
“I wanted to be a natural body builder because I thought all these guys were natural,” Bohan said, referring to the likes of Conan The Barbarian or The Incredible Hulk.
“I was clueless.”
Bohan started going to Ventura’s gym as a high school swimmer, looking to get in shape.
“And Jesse was half the size he was when he started wrestling,” Bohan said.
The problem continued into the early ‘80s when Bohan began competing in bodybuilding events against the drug users.
“I got mad and tried it, but I quickly realized it was wasn’t worth walking around with these huge fake muscles, but this is just me,” he said.
“Back then, if you didn’t use them you’d be strange and most of the people at the gyms would be using them.”
Jason Olson is at firstname.lastname@example.org.