For the first time since taking the stage in his teal speedo at the Mr. and Mrs. SRU Bodybuilding and Figure Show last weekend, senior sport management major Jim Grafe, 22, is heading back to the Aebersold Student Recreation Center to get a solid lift in.
With his family loudly cheering in the front row of the audience on Sunday, Grafe proudly held his trophy above his head, wearing a big smile, after winning first place in the closed lightweight division. He also took home first place in the open bantamweight class.
Grafe, a 2009 graduate of Chartiers Valley High School in Pittsburgh, started lifting seriously during the winter of his sophomore year.
“Two years ago, I was in the ARC lifting and a few guys told me to get into the bodybuilding club and try the SRU show, because I was already lean and they thought I had a shot at placing,” Grafe said. “Honestly, I was totally against it, but when I tried the show that spring, I placed in my weight class, and ever since then, I loved the sport.”
He competed in his first SRU bodybuilding show that spring, where he placed fourth in closed bantamweight and fifth in open bantamweight divisions.
After getting his first bodybuilding show out of the way, Grafe greatly improved during his second year of competition, placing second in both open and closed bantamweight divisions at the 2012 Mr. SRU show. He also went on to compete at the Mr. California University Show, where he placed first in the open lightweight division and the NPC Collegiate Nationals in Pittsburgh, where he placed third in lightweight.
“During high school, I sprinted for the track and field team, played football, and I was a member of the bowling team,” he
said. “I lifted during high school to get ready for football, but definitely nothing like what I do now. I love it!”
In preparation for the show, Grafe lifted five days a week for an hour and a half each. Once it started getting closer to the day of the show, he increased his workouts to seven days a week. In addition to the intense workouts, Grafe said the diet of a body builder is very strict and expensive.
“I spent over 100 dollars a week on food, eating mainly rice cakes, a spoonful of salsa, and a lot of chicken in preparation for the show,” Grafe said. “I also drank two gallons of water each day during the week before the show.”
The competitors in the Mr. and Mrs. SRU Show had two posing practices to get ready and comfortable for the show, and Grafe said he also practiced posing on his own. His favorite muscle is side-chest.
After his performance on Sunday afternoon, Grafe plans on taking a year off from competing to give his body a break and focus on his final year of school here at SRU.
“I’ve learned a lot about my body during these past three years. It’s been incredible to see my progress, getting bigger and better each year,” Grafe said. “I always set high goals and compete with myself to hit those goals and objectives. I always stay positive, brave, and keep my head up in everything I do.”
Grafe jokingly said that people would be surprised to know that he doesn’t live in the gym. When he isn’t working out or doing homework, he enjoys going out on the weekends and spending time with his supportive family, friends, and girlfriend.
A hometown boy and huge Pittsburgh sports fan, Grafe is pursuing a career in marketing and selling nutritional supplements in the fitness/bodybuilding industry, and perhaps owning a fitness facility or being a personal trainer.
“I’d like to stay in Pittsburgh and near my family for the rest of my life, but it depends on where I get a job after I graduate,” Grafe said. “Bodybuilding is definitely something that I see in my future. It’s been a great experience and I can’t see myself giving it up anytime soon.”