A Year in Review

15 May 2007



In our very first column, May 2006, we introduced you to Charles Hawkins, aka the Hawk, arguably one of the best drug free bodybuilders on the planet.  The Hawk, who has competed successfully against all comers in open, or non-drug tested competitions, winning multiple Mr. Mississippi titles, Mr. Florida and Mr. Gulf Coast, culminated his bodybuilding career with a victory at the 2004 drug free Mr. Universe contest. 


But his phenomenal physique aside, one of the main reasons we selected Charles Hawkins as our premier Introducing….feature was that while he was building his body he did not neglect the other facets of his life; he married, became a father, held down a regular job to support his family, and took on a second job - he became an ordained minister.  For Rev. Charles Hawkins, God comes first, his family second, and training third – a philosophy we thought embodied that of a true Natural Champion. 


Another was that the Hawk was a Hurricane Katrina survivor, one who did not bemoan his fate but, once he knew his family was safe said “I’m starting with a clean slate now. God has a plan for me and He has closed old doors so that new doors can be opened. I know God’s plan is for the best and I’m excited to see what’s in store for me now.”


We’re more than happy to let our readers know in this update that good things were, indeed, in store for the man who has become known as the Natural Champion.  He relocated to San Francisco, where he had family members, found a good job, got back into training, started writing the Ask The Natural Champion column for this magazine…and has become the first official spokesperson for Natural Champion and our flagship product, Naturally Juic’d.


The Hawk was in the Atlanta area from April 6 through April 10th, appearing at the Natural Champion booth at the SNBF Georgia Men’s Bodybuilding and Women’s Fitness, Figure and Bodybuilding Championships.  Hawk and your editor in chief also gave seminars at the Gold’s Gym in Cartersville and Main Event Fitness in Marietta, home of XPE.  To say that he opened a lot of eyes to the possibility – no, make that reality – of what a drug free bodybuilder could look like is a definite understatement.


In the second issue, June 2006, we introduced our readers to the first female to be featured in Natural Champion, the lovely Karen Stephens, and veered off the bodybuilding stage to the athletic field for a profile of Tony Villani, the originator of the XPE- the innovative and highly effective Extreme Performance Enhancement System.


Karen tells us she has shelved competition temporarily due to a long standing shoulder injury that has severely impacted her training.  She does manage to keep in shape, however, and promises updates as the rehab process continues.


Tony Villani has expanded XPE to include training camps, one of which your editor was fortunate enough to attend in which such football super stars as Hines Ward and Jamal Lewis gave of their time (on a weekend, no less) to help.


Liz Jones graced our July, 2006 cover.  Liz, who makes her home in Woodville, Wisconsin, is the mother of a teen age son, holds down a full time job, is studying for her masters degree , and still finds time not only to train but to compete – to date she has a first place fitness trophy and a fourth place figure trophy from the Gopher State Classic

Liz sent us the following update, along with some recent photos:

Well, I've had a very interesting year.  This year has been a great blessing.  I got to meet Gloria Steinem a few months back when she was speaking in Eau Claire, WI.  In my personal life, I've gotten to know people that I really enjoy having in my life, my son will be getting his driver's license soon and is active and doing well, and I am finally getting to live out one of my life-long goals. 

For a long time I have been involved in many activities working for social justice.  In the past I have been a mentor to teen parents, and still stay in touch with many of them and their children; I have volunteered for local domestic abuse shelters and created fundraisers to help the cause; I volunteered as a trained mediator for a local Restorative Justice program; and continue to give time and money to causes that I care about.  I decided years ago that I would continue my education with the goal of someday running a women's shelter and working for necessary change in public policy.  I began working on my master's degree in Organizational Leadership, with that goal in mind.  I attended law school for 3 weekend semesters (completing most of my first year classes) and then decided to focus just on completing my master's degree work and getting out there to make the changes where I was able. 

I was recently offered the position that I dreamed of.  I am the new Executive Director of the Bridge to Hope Domestic Violence shelter in Dunn County, Wisconsin.  Finally, I get to do for a living what I am most passionate about- helping people to become empowered to rise up in their own lives and speaking out to educate people and make change in the world.  As I go forward on the next steps in my journey I am excited and scared.  I still have a lot of work to do in my life and I am so lucky that I get to do what really drives me.

As far as fitness goes, I am still teaching yoga in Baldwin, Wisconsin and have added a few other classes that I've taught including a Power Yoga class and a Family Yoga class that I have coming up.  I've gotten to take a few new dance classes, which is another one of my passions and I am considering competing this year in a natural bodybuilding/figure event in October. 

The guys I work with right now and I are participating in "Shape Up Wisconsin" which is a group competition that tracks weight loss and activity points.  I thought it was a great idea and enjoy being a part of anything that encourages people to live healthy lives.

I'm looking forward to summer and getting to go out on motorcycles (my all-time favorite past time) and hopefully get some bike riding and hiking in (my "new" activities for the summer).  I still have some areas in my life that I need to work on and new goals to be set (anyone want to come clean my house?  That's one goal I can't seem to get to no matter how many times I write it down as my project).

Life is still good and I'm looking forward to what life is to bring as the future unfolds.”


We at applaud Liz Jones for her dedication to helping people and in overcoming obstacles to pursue her own passions…Liz, you are a true Natural Champion!



Sharing the cover with Liz in July, 2006  was the classically built Renaldo Gairy, from Thornhill, Ontario.  A university graduate with a B.Sc. in Computer science and Psychology who works as a personal trainer at Extreme Fitness in Thornhill, Renaldo won the 2005 Muscle Mania Canada Light Heavyweight and Overall titles and first place in the open division of the 2005 FAME World Championships  …all in his first year as a competitive bodybuilder!


Renaldo, aka ‘Razor’, was featured in the February/March issue of FAME magazine, and is currently working to put on more size in preparation to hitting the 2007 Pro stage.



From the inception of Natural Champion magazine, the FAME organization, which includes the WNSO (World Natural Sports Organization), has been extremely helpful and cooperative in sending us information about and photos of some of their athletes and models. In the August, 2006 issue we were pleased to be able to profile Lisa Hughes, who the athletes rep for FAME and as well as being a successful competitor in FAME and other fitness events.


Though she left FAME, Lisa has continued to stay in touch. Last fall, she sprained her back and compressed my hip joint during gymnastics practice.  That, compiled with my other injuries sustained over the last few years, led her to the decision to take some time off and give her body the TLC it needed and to focus more on here career and where she was in life.


Lisa recently moved from Toronto to Vancouver, where she found what she describes as her ‘dream job’ as the manager of a prosperous chain on nail bars with opportunity for growth.  She says her bosses are incredible and the staff is great.  She also found, in her own words, “an awesome pad to live in.”


Still, she says it was s tough transition, especially leaving friends and family behind that I love deeply and care about immensely, with some ups and downs, getting used to the rain being one.  All in all though, Lisa says she loves it in Vancouver and that ‘”competing in fitness and that journey always gave me so much to learn about myself, and this new adventure gave me the opportunity to learn even more!”


Cory Gregory was our other front page feature in August, 2006.  Anyone who thinks that all bodybuilders are gym rats who plan their days around working out, eating, sleeping and playing video games should meet Cory Gregory – a young man still in his twenties who holds an Exercise Specialist degree, is a successful businessman, professional model, bodybuilding competitor, and creator of the ONBF (Ohio Natural Bodybuilding Federation).

Cory is still busy with his Personal Training business, his website, his Old School Gym (love the name and the concept), running the ONBF, putting out his newsletter, training – and contributing articles to Natural Champion (see his ‘abz’ article in the February 2006 In The Gym column.


In September 2006 we featured Dana Maney and Steve Speyrer on our cover.

Dana, a wife, mother, teacher and part-time student with blonde fashion model looks still manages to get in regular workouts at BodyWorks Athletic Club in Menomonie, Wisconsin and compete for TEAM Bodyworks (interesting how our Natural Champions get into fantastic shape and yet lead well-rounded lives, with jobs, families, schooling and varied interests…a refreshing change from the dead-end ‘gym rat’ mentality). 

Since being featured in the September 2006 issue, Dana competed in October and took 3rd place tall figure at the NANBF Best of the Midwest in Cedar Rapids, IA.   She also appeared at the Arnold Classic in a booth for Your Whey Protein, and did Jen Hendershott's fitness fashion show.  As this issue goes to press Dana is in contest prep for a May May19th NANBF Pro-qualifier in Minneapolis

Look for a dual feature on Dana and her husband Jess in an upcoming issue of Natural Champion.


One of the many good things about publishing Natural Champion online magazine is that we come in contact with so many genuinely nice people. One of the ‘nicest of the nice’ is Steve Speyer, who keeps more than busy running the Classic Anatomy Gym in Lo and publishing Classic Anatomy Magazine, a free monthly online magazine at (Steve was even nice enough to feature our editor in chief, Arley Vest, in an issue).


We’re happy to report that a DVD production company recently contacted Steve about making a fitness program designed for Teens and Pre-Teens and the DVD is in the works, with others to follow!



Our October 2006, cover featured Cara Thien in a striking pose that brought a flood of attention and favorable comments from staff and readers alike and James deMelo, former rising bodybuilder superstar who turned away from the fame of the bodybuilding stage and magazine covers to become an evangelist and ordained minister.



Cara, a busy wife, mother of three children, and personal who lives in Tswassen sent us the following update:


“I began this journey only 5 years ago. I have no previous dance experience, nor was I a gymnast, I just had a love for what I had seen over many years.  I started
training for the stage as a goal to get in shape after my second child and placed 5th my first time out against 23 competitors.  My second year, I trained hard, trying to improve myself.  I struggled this time to lose the last bit of body fat and competed not knowing that I was 6 weeks pregnant!  I placed third but was

unable to fulfill my goal of reaching the nationals in Toronto. 


“I decided to take my personal training course and all the other courses that go along with it during my pregnancy and made another goal to reach the stage again after my child.  I reached that goal and, in fact, I just finished competing in the Ocean Bloom Classic here in North Vancouver, BC.  It was an amazing show with a lot of new competitors and great talent.  We really had a spectacular day, I’m very pleased to announce that I placed 3rd in muscle model and 4th in the fitness category, not bad for a recent mom!  My goal this year was to get back on stage and enjoy every moment.  Since my youngest is just 2 ½  its been a real challenge to just get to the gym regularly and keep the rest of the household moving, we have three children and they are busy active little people!  I can’t tell you how much work it has taken to get here, but I will say that the people in my life have been very supportive and we really work as a team.  I have totally “enjoyed this year and I’m preparing to move on now to Toronto and if the gods are in my favor I will compete again in November, keep your fingers crossed! 


“Competing has changed my life and I’m so grateful to have had the support of my family and friends along the way!  I am a personal trainer in Tswassen.  I love what I do and I hope to inspire others.”


Thanks for the update Cara – and we hope to see more of you in Natural Champion magazine.


The story of James deMelo, our other cover feature for October, 2006, is truly inspirational.   With dark haired good looks, a movie-star smile, and a physique that had the right combination of muscular size, shape and symmetry, James was a rising super star of the world of bodybuilding, appearing on the cover of numerous magazines.  But tragedy struck, first in the form of a deep personal loss and then an accident that left him literally dead at the scene.

But tragedy turned to triumph.  James made a miraculous recovery physically and even more miraculous, he was reborn spiritually and committed his life to the Lord, traveling extensively as the founder of James deMelo Ministries International, a worldwide missionary evangelistic organization

Today, James resides in Carrollton, Texas, with his wife of 17 years, Misty, and their three daughters Alexa, Mikayla, and Elissa where he serves as pastor at Covenant Church.

For more information on James deMelo and his ministry, please visit


Featured in the Holiday 2006 Issue (November/December) were Patty Foster, who we described as a gem in our own backyard as she lives in the Cartersville, Georgia area, where both Lazarus Labs and Natural Champion Enterprises are headquartered, and Matt Shepley, one of the leading forces in the drug free bodybuilding world.


Patty Foster is a forty-something wife (married to Ken Foster, who is no stranger to the weight room himself) mother (two children, Ken – a 21 year old mixed martial arts righter, and Jennifer, 16) and real estate agent with a figure that would be the envy of most any twenty-something woman who has never had any children.  Patty recently competed in the SNBF Georgia State Championships and placed in the top five against very tough competition.  The consensus was that if Patty had entered the Masters (over 40) division she would have walked away with the first place trophy.


We’re pleased to announce that Patty will be writing some articles on women’s training exclusively for Natural Champion magazine.



Matt Shepley, who publishes Fitness & Physique Magazine and is the head of the Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders (OCB), a drug free bodybuilding organization, as well as being a successful bodybuilding competitor, sends news that his Fitness & Physique Magazine has expanded newsstand distribution to include 33 states and changed from a bi-annual publication to quarterly.  Fitness & Physique is a top is a quality magazine in every respect and we highly recommend it to our readers.  You can subscribe to Fitness & Physique online at


Matt also tells us that the OCB has become the largest amateur natural bodybuilding organization in the U.S. and now has more events than any other in addition to having the most widespread area of coverage.  Congratulations, Matt – you richly deserve your success.



In this issue we also presented a special feature on “The World’s Strongest Man, Dick Hoyt, a man whose exploits far transcend the playing field, arena or platform.  To give you an idea of what we’re talking about, here’s the intro to the article, which was written by Rick Reilly:


I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to
pay for their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he's pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in marathons. Eight times he's not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars--all in the same day.

Dick's also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. on a bike. Makes taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much--except save his life.


If you missed “The World’s Strongest Man” we highly recommend that you go back and read it.  And if you did read it the first time around, we recommend that you go back and read it again.  It’s that inspirational!



We started out 2007 by featuring another special and inspiration individual, Kyle Maynard in our January Issue.  If you missed this article, by all means go back and check it out.  Kyle Maynard was born without fully developed arms and legs, yet he leads an independent lifestyle, is a college student and sought after public speaker…and, get this, a successful competitive wrestler. 





Two dynamic fitness personalities were featured in the February 2006 issue. 


Toronto resident Cheryl Mitchell is a busy and energetic lady: the current FAME World Muscle Pro Champion, who also held the World Pro title in the Figure category in 2005, is the new Athletics Communications Manger for the FAME Media Group, a competition judge, workshop leaders, pro specialist and writer for the World Natural Sports Organization (WNSO) and a certified personal trainer and girl’s football coach!


Cheryl, who has done a terrific job supplying us with information and updates on FAME events as well as sending FAME and WNSO personalities our way, tells us she is still sponsored by System Fitness and also picked up a new sponsor, Coco Locco Tanning Salon on Bloor Street West.  She will be running a

FAME Level 1 Camp at FAME Head Quarters in Toronto on March 24th to qualify new athletes to compete at level 2 Regional FAME events.  Cheryl also says that her training is going well and that she has chosen the music for her routine, which will be put together by Scott Bialik from Sounddome and which, she says, will be HOT!! 


Also, a videographer, David Ajax, will be putting together a documentary of Cheryl’s journey to the stage this year.  Keep us up to date, Cheryl – those who can’t make it to your show just might want to see a video of that hot routine!!



Sharing the February 2006 spotlight with Cheryl was David Robson, a physique champion, writer, personal trainer and accomplished athlete (in addition to bodybuilding he has competed in and excelled at martial arts and rugby) from New Zealand.


David informed us that he is currently working on two books: Reach for the Stars: The Ultimate Guide to Success, and a biography of Dan Lurie, bodybuilding pioneer and publisher (see David’s interview with Dan in last months’ SOUND OFF column.  David tell us that he will also be entering the Midwest Christian Bodybuilder Cyber Contest later this year and we look forward to seeing some new photos.



March 2007 featured yet another FAME talent,  Mary Pier Gaudet as well as yet another new found friend via the internet and Natural Champion, the ‘mystery man, Greg Sushinsky.  We haven’t received an update from Mary Pier but Greg informed us that he is working hard on several writing projects as well as keeping his website update.   We highly recommend that you visit his site at




In April 2007 we introduced Kathy McElroy, the latest in a seemingly endless supply of talented, attractive and dedicated fitness enthusiasts from FAME and Anibal Lopez, former Mr. America and Mr. World, a classy guy with a classical physique.  Anibal keeps in touch regularly and just sent us a recent photo, taken at age 64.  After seeing this, we dubbed him Ageless Anibal.


We’re pleased and honored to have Anibal Lopez as a distributor for Naturally Juic’d and other Natural Champion and Lazarus Labs products.  This is the first time in all his years in the Iron Game that he has ever endorsed any supplement or product, which makes us doubly honored.  To learn more about Anibal and to order products directly from him, please visit













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