One VCU student connected with his fellow bodybuilders and powerlifters to form a group that takes on large weights and large stereotypes.
Kevin Ghaffari, president and founder of Bodybuilding and Powerlifting at VCU, formed the group along with several fitness enthusiasts he would regularly see at the Cary Street Gym. Currently a pre-medical senior, Ghaffari said even though the club was officially registered Sept. 2014, other VCU seniors and graduate students have wanted to form the club for more than five years.
“Nobody just really took the initiative to get it started,” Ghaffari said. “I just so happened to be that person.”
To officially register Bodybuilding and Powerlifting as a group, Ghaffari reached out to five of his friends who regularly participate in bodybuilding. From there, he expanded to the people he regularly sees at the gym. After reaching out online to different VCU organizations, Bodybuilding and Powerlifting at VCU has expanded to more than 60 online members.
“Most of the people actually in the group are aspiring competitors or current competitors,” Ghaffari said. “But we’re really helpful as far as if anyone’s interested and wants to learn more about weightlifting.”
Competitor Derrick Stevens, vice president of the club, was elected 2014 Mr. Virginia and Mr. North Carolina Bodybuilding. Ghaffari said he met Stevens after working together to create his diet for competition. The club also includes bikini competitors, powerlifting competitors, male physique competitors and female figure competitors.
“I would love to get some Olympic weightlifting athletes,” Ghaffari said. “Pretty much any of these competitive athletes where training at the gym is essential to your success.”
Before college, Ghaffari said he lived most of his life overweight with poor eating habits. Late in high school, he took charge of his health and lost 60 lbs. Coming to VCU, Ghaffari researched bodybuilding, got into the sport and started his own business as a trainer and competition counselor.
“From the start I was very research-based, I wasn’t as much as going in and throwing stuff around,” Ghaffari said. “I came from being overweight … to starting my own business.”
Ghaffari said that even though the club has many competitive members, they are open to anyone interested in weightlifting. As a pre-med student, Ghaffari said he must balance schoolwork with his workouts, and he uses YouTube videos for motivation.
“There’s a pretty good Arnold (Schwarzenegger) quote, ‘I don’t want to be average,’” Ghaffari said. “(Weightlifting) is the same as learning a new language, you’re just improving yourself in one way — that just so happens to be a physical way — that other people can notice.”
So far the group has held a gym night at Cary Street, where 10 people worked out together using compound lifts. Ghaffari said the first general body meeting will be held within the upcoming two weeks. The club is also working with other organizations to do charity work.
“I just don’t like the stigma that the second someone has muscles, there’s no way they can comprehend anything else life has to offer,” Ghaffari said. “Some of the most kind-hearted, hard working — when it comes to academics — people I know are also people that partake in weightlifting. It’s just a hobby.”