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Name: Heslin Kim
Off-season weight: 180lbs
Competition weight: 156lbs
What was the last show you competed in and how did you place?
MuscleMania Korea. Placed 3rd in Men’s Physique under 172cm category.
When will you next be competing?
Tentatively on November 18th and 19th. I have not received confirmation of my acceptance yet so it’s still in the air, but I’m 90% at the moment. MuscleMania World’s on the 18th and if I have time to make it back from Las Vegas to LA, WNBF World’s as an amateur.
How did you get started with bodybuilding?
I had been working out since 14 years old doing curls and whatever a teen does with 10lbs weights at home. By 15 I had a weight training class in my high school with ignorant football coaches who promoted more curls and benching. Total bro. My arms measured 16.5″ and I had a 265lbs bench at 16 years old at around 165lbs.
College came and gym was not a priority at all. First were grades, 2nd partying, 3rd harder partying. Always wondered why I wasn’t making gains.
Post-college, I moved to Korea in 2010, and realized it was like a second college. For most people, they are in their early 20’s and recent college graduates. It’s the first time for them living abroad and they have heaps of disposable income and free time. The general population has a severe problem with alcoholism and over drinking. It’s currently the highest rate for average shots of liquor in the world at 14 per week.
What do these facts have to do with bodybuilding? After my first year I was partying hard, clubbing all the time, going to festival and concerts, all that normal jazz for 20 somethings. Around the 2nd year friends started slowly fading and moving to new countries. By year 3 I was totally done with that atmosphere, but the revolving door of expatriates just keeps more freshies coming.
I retreated to the gym as I stopped drinking and became more and more immersed in my workout programming. I felt run down and tried to make my life as healthy as possible as a 100% natural athlete.
By year 6 in Korea I had competed 6 times. Once in 2013 in bodybuilding at -70kg placing 5th/20. Again in 2014 in men’s physique placing 7th/50. Then 3x thus far in 2016 placing 1st and winning the overalls at Mr. Yongin, a local regional show. 3rd at MuscleMania in the short division, and finally not placing at the IFBB Asia Grand Prix Open.
Who’s physique do you admire/aspire to look like?
I do not aspire to achieve anyone else’s physique. Genetically that’s impossible. I do look toward IFBB Pros with similar heights as myself to figure out the type of proportions the judges are looking for. I hope to one day achieve an IFBB Pro Card as a lifetime natural athlete.
Were you athletic growing up?
I played soccer as a kid. I was also always known for being very fast. I won all the sprinting track events in elementary school. I did track in middle school and did very well until everyone else started getting so tall and for some reason I had plateaued in height. Changed to lacrosse for a few years. Bit of rugby in college, but team sports aren’t my thing.
Have other areas of your life changed or maybe suffered since you started competing?
I’m definitely a lot less social than I used to be. Generally because I don’t drink and I don’t even like to be around anyone getting drunk so that cuts off a lot of nights out with friends or potential new friends.
As all competitor’s significant others know, it can be hell to live with during dieting. Temper is short and I snap at weird small things. Emotions are all over during prep.
I spend 3-4 hours at the gym with a 45 minute-1 hour commute each way so I pretty much train all the time. Most of my new friends are also lifters or competitors. Otherwise I don’t really have time to meet others.
What motivates you?
Achieving something greater. Being 100% in every moment and looking back at my accomplishments. Having complete strangers tell me I’m a role model or inspiration for them and a catalyst to train harder or compete. This is usually online, but I’ve had some people come up to me in the gym and mention the same things. It’s an awesome feeling knowing that people recognize hard work and that my own hard work isn’t only benefiting myself, but also carrying over into others’ lives.
In college I was a complete hippie and wanted to renounce all my personal belongings and live in a monastery meditating all day. I’ve realized Bodhisattva life can be had in the “real world” too.
What kind of routine do you run? Does this differ between off season and during prep?
I come up with my own routines. They all stem off basic concepts: compounds first, hypertrophy after. I’ll add in intensifiers and different training methodologies I’ve learned overtime from friends and things I’ve invented.
Things like anterior/lateral/posterior splits, tweaked power lifting programs like a 2x a week 5/3/1 with added hypertrophy, and right now I’m running Sheiko Universal with weak points for hypertrophy.
What is your approach when it comes to dieting?
Do you use any supplements?
Tons of supplements. Everything under the sun I can take that keeps me drug-free according to WADA.
What is your long term goal in bodybuilding?
Despite barely having any money right now from focusing on fitness for the entire year and only working part-time I’d like to invest the last bit of my money in prep and flying home. My long term goals are to become an IFBB men’s physique pro as a natural athlete, also get a WNBF pro card in bodybuilding or physique, have my YouTube channel become a successful source of income, make a name for myself in the fitness industry by promoting natural training, expand my brand and coaching business, becoming a part of a much larger web of positive influence and maintain a career in whatever field that may be.
How do you stay fit and healthy? Why is it important to you?
“One does not “STAY fit,” fit is a state of being! How is this achieved? Climbing mountains in the nude, chopping down trees like a Thai kick boxer, catching fish with bare hands and eating them live, finally ending by dining with royalty who only eat Kobe beef served on the deliciously hidden privates of beautiful Japanese women.” Is what I would like to say, but honestly it’s all about the grind. My life revolves around being fit and healthy 24/7 in order to lengthen my life and be an inspiration for what is aesthetically possible as a natural athlete.
What’s the most significant challenge you have overcome in your life?
I don’t think our victories in our personal lives should be compared with others. This is a competition. Is my story much different than anyone else? Maybe, but we all have hardships and challenges in our lives that shape us. Did I lose a limb or overcome a terminal disease? No, but clearly that’s more significant than anything I could write about. I commend others who have done as much. For me the most significant challenge, something I am still working on daily, is being as good a person as I can be to those around me.
How do you give back to your community/friends/family?
I now live in Seoul, Korea and have worked in education for the past 5 years. Growing up in Atlanta in the 90’s I was not exposed to an amazing education system. I moved out to the burbs and had a teacher who made the most dull subject exciting to learn, plus she was hot. I was lucky enough to have several more teachers like this who were incredibly inspirational and ideal role models. They taught me what it means to teach. Within the last year I’ve become a personal trainer, which I find perfectly in line with teaching.
How do you measure success? Have you achieved it?
I measure success by checking if someone has the EDGE – (E)ffort (D)rive (G)oals (E)xecution. With one of these you can create some heat, but with all you can start a fire. Success is a fire, it dwindles after a while when people stop caring, and must constantly be kept under maintenance. Just as “staying fit” is not the proper way to express that concept, “achieving success” conceptually discredits the impermanence of what can be tangibly had. Success is a truly just brief moment when a goal is felt to be conquered, BUT there should always be more goals ahead.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
There are two quotes that have stuck by me, and I’m not one of those people who walks into a movie and comes out quoting every line. The first is, “Happiness held is the seed. Happiness shared is the flower.” And as I mentioned is something I try to live by. I use this as a reminder to stay positive and turn negative situations into constructive ones. The other is, “Atop a mountain, another mountain.” Similar to my ideas behind success, there is always something that must be “overcome” in life. Sisyphus has a never ending grind, #thestruggleisreal ya feel?