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From 'Jacked Athlete' to Becoming a Personal Trainer

ISSA, International Sports Sciences Association, Certified Personal Trainer, ISSAonline, Michael Ray Garvin

The man once billed “the world’s most jacked athlete” has turned his attention to helping others maximize their athletic abilities.

The kid with a dream of one day playing in the NFL moved across the football field with a sprinter’s speed, prompting another defensive back to declare, “Man, you look like a thoroughbred out there.” Soon after, Michael Ray Garvin had the word “Thoroughbred” tattooed on his back from shoulder to shoulder.

A few years later, the eye-opening picture of a bare-chested Garvin running the 40-yard dash for NFL scouts prompted internet bloggers to label him as the “world’s most jacked athlete.”

Not long after, Garvin became the author of the book, the “World’s Most Jacked Athlete.”

Garvin knows that you can’t believe everything you hear and read. But it’s not bragging if you can back it up.

His speed and chiseled physique helped Garvin become an All-American sprinter on the Florida State University track team and a record-setting kick returner for the Seminoles football team. After a knee injury ended his hopes for an NFL, the now 30-year-old Garvin is making a name for himself as a certified fitness trainer.

Based in Katy, Texas, a suburb of Houston, Garvin’s business focuses on sports performance training. As far back as his high school days in New Jersey, Garvin has been asked by others to help them get better results on the playing field. Turning it into a career was a natural transition.

“World’s Most Jacked Athlete” details Garvin’s training and supplement routine. Those details, he said, should silence the doubters who assume that his powerful 5-foot-8, 174-pound body was aided by the use of steroids.

He followed up with two more books, “Jacked Athlete Training Manual,” and “Jacked Athlete Supplement Manual.”  It’s all part of a continuing life-long commitment to exercise and fitness.

Garvin’s dad played football and ran track, and his mother was a track athlete. He developed an interest in both sports early on and quickly exhibited a desire to maximize the benefits of the good genes he inherited.

He began using supplements when he was 12 years old. He began working with a personal trainer when he was 14. In his free time, he researched the benefits of various vitamins and minerals.

He also found inspiration in an unlikely place, a particular Japanese animated Tv show on the Cartoon Network called "Dragon Ball Z".  He was drawn to Goku, the protagonist of the show, who is known as the most powerful warrior on Earth.

“Not only is he muscular,” Garvin said, “but he also has great speed. That helped drive me to want to have both. I wanted to reach my full potential, and I knew I had the work ethic to take it to the next level.

“That’s why I was up at six in the morning to run with my dad. And to take the time to educate on things like nutrition. You get out what you put in.”

Garvin excelled at both sports in high school and chose Florida State partly due to the promise that he could compete in football and track. The football coaches later said that being on the track team rather than participating in spring football practice would hurt his chances of earning a starting role, but Garvin wasn’t deterred.  

While he was not selected in the 2009 NFL draft, Garvin signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals switched him from defensive back to wide receiver as a way to best utilize his speed. But a meniscus tear suffered during training camp ended his chances of making the team, and ultimately, ended his football career.

He later went to training camp with the Detroit Lions as well as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League before officially retiring in 2014. His brief pro football career proved to be a turning point in his life.

“I rededicated myself to God after I got hurt,” Garvin said. “I realized at that point that my life was changing and that my dream was shattered. I began going to church more. I focused more on treating people the right way.”

And he got another tattoo. This one reads, “God over money.”

“My life had been all about money and the NFL,” Garvin said. “When I lost those things I felt empty. I knew there had to be more to life than that, or what was left for me to live for?”

Garvin became ISSA certified in 2011 on the recommendation of his trainer. While he already had a wealth of knowledge, he said the classwork help him understand the principals of fitness, such as the seven laws of training and the three energy pathways.

Because he had primarily worked with competitive athletes up to that point, he also added insight into working with bodybuilders as well as kids and older adults.

“It opened up my knowledge to new areas,” Garvin said.

He currently has approximately 45 clients, spending time in the gym and in field training.

Garvin said that he is keenly interested in helping kids reach their athletic goals and to become successful in all areas of life. To that end, he recently published a fourth book, “The Complete Athlete,” which he describes as his “testimony.”

“I want to share what I have been through,” he said, “and to tell kids how to become a complete athlete. That includes being a person with good character. Character is key.”

Dean Spiros

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