Lifting weights and hoisting trophies

Travis Frizsell finds a new avenue for his competitive drive

Fred McCormick

Winning his first bodybuilding trophy was no easy task for Travis Frizsell. Actually, it was kind of a grind.

The "grind," as he calls it,  to sculpt his body into shape required weeks of dedication and discipline. But he loves the grind - the challenge of it is what originally intrigued him about the sport.

With some success already behind him, bodybuilder Travis Frizsell works toward his next competition at Cheshire Fitness in Black Mountain.

"My entire life I've been a really competitive person," Frizsell said. "I played three sports in high school and went on to run track and play college football."

With graduation from Lenoir-Rhyne University looming and football behind him, he found an outlet for his competitive drive in the weight room, long a familiar place for him.

"It all started in the weight room at Owen High School," he said. "That's where I first started to get into weight training and started to get a foundation and learn some of the basics."

Having spent hours lifting weights throughout his athletic career, the 22-year-old began to focus on bulking up.

"I've only been serious with bodybuilding and lifting for about eight months," Frizsell said. "But I love the weight room and I was already a decent-size guy, so I knew I could add some size."

In high school, Frizsell spent much of the time in the weight room with Carlos Perez, a personal trainer who worked with football players at Owen. Frizsell reconnected with Perez at Cheshire Fitness Club in Black Mountain and found an ally eager to support his new path.

"It turns out he had trained a couple of bodybuilders before," Frizsell said. "Since we were already friends, I started training with him. We train together a couple of days a week now."

Frizsell has learned the more technical aspects of the sport from his bodybuilding coach, Jimmy Koepsell.

Travis Frizsell spends hours and hours in the gym each week, often three times a day.

The transition to bodybuilding has proven to be a smooth one for Frizsell, and success did not take long. He won a trophy at the Europa Games Expo in Charlotte, where he finished fourth in the light heavyweight division.

It "felt great" to bring home a trophy this early in his career. he said. However, a chance encounter with a Lenoir-Rhyne alumnus in Charlotte may have an even larger impact in the long run.

"I ran into James Gracely, who is the national director of specialty sales for VPX," Frizsell said. "Come to find out he went to my college and played football there as well, so we hit it off and now I'm working on a sponsorship with VPX."

VPX Sports is a Florida-based nutritional supplement company. Partnering with the company could be a big step in Frizsell's  career, he said.

"It's really a big deal for me," he said. "I'm not anywhere close to being a professional in the sport, but getting a sponsorship would be a step in the right direction."

Currently Frizsell's professional focus is on "learning the ins and outs" of Appalachian Tools & Machine, Inc., his family's Black Mountain-based business which he will eventually run. His day job, however, has not kept him from the daily grind of bodybuilding.

"You start out building bulk, just gaining as much size and strength as you can," he said. "You're eating all the time throughout the day, very large meal portions, several times a day."

After building mass, it's time to lose body fat.

"That's called 'the cut,' and you're trying to cut as much of that fat as possible," Frizsell said. "The cut is what makes or breaks a bodybuilder because you have to stay disciplined with your food intake. Every competitive bodybuilder is on a strict meal plan."

Frizsell ate four to five times daily, including plenty of chicken, rice and broccoli.

"I would make my meals every weekend for the week ahead," he said. "I ate chicken, rice and broccoli every day for about 10 weeks. Those are great foods to eat when you're trying to lose weight."

Getting into shape for the competition also involved as much as an hour-and-a-half of cardio workout every day, according to Frizsell.

Weights are always included in the process. "I lift every day," Frizsell said. "It's constant."

Frizsell has yet to decide when his next competition will be, noting that the physical demands of bodybuilding are "almost as rough on the body as college football."

"Right now I'm really just focused on growing," he said. "I'm still lifting a lot of weight with low repetitions daily."