When bodybuilding fans think of the elite of the sport, names that come to mind include Mr. Olympia Mamdouh “Big Ramy” Elssbiay, Brandon Curry, and Phil Heath. One man who wants to include his name on that list is Nick Walker.
The 27-year-old from New Jersey has big plans. He has already won the 2021 New York Pro. Now he wants to add both the Arnold Classic (taking place on Sept. 25, 2021) and Mr. Olympia (October 7-10 in Orlando, FL) to his collection of titles. Sweeping the three biggest titles in bodybuilding in one season would certainly make him worthy of being added to the list of iconic figures in his sport. No one up to this point has won all three contests in one year at all, much less in their first try.
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Walker’s popularity and success came quickly. He currently has 530,000 followers on Instagram, works with five different companies as a sponsored athlete, and this is only his second season as a pro. Fortunately, he was prepared for everything that has happened thanks to his parents, coach Matt Jansen, and keeping a level head throughout.
BarBend caught up with the up-and-comer to chat about his budding bodybuilding career.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been lightly edited for readability.
BarBend: Less than two years ago, you were considered an up-and-coming amateur. Now you’re prepping for the two biggest contests in bodybuilding, you won the New York Pro, and your popularity has skyrocketed. Have you been able to take it all in?
Nick Walker: No, not at all. Everything’s been happening so fast, and it’s been awesome. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I haven’t had time to sit down and grasp everything. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. I’d rather keep it moving forward.
BarBend: Outside of the Olympia and Arnold, that New York Pro title is considered by many to be a prestigious title, and you won it on your first attempt. Talk about the experience of winning your first show.
NW: Even though it was in Tampa this year, that show for us Jersey and New York guys is like the Olympia. In one of my previous videos, I said that I wanted to win that show on my first try. Right after the Chicago Pro, I went back to the hotel with Matt [Jansen] and we said, “let’s do the New York Pro.” We literally started prep for New York on January 1. We never thought about what show to do after New York if we didn’t win.
When it was between me and Justin [Rodriguez] going back and forth, that was surreal because, in my mind, that was my first real prep for a pro show. To be battling with Justin, who got 10th at the Olympia, I was like, “Wow, here we are.” When we did the posedown, and they called his name in second, I thought winning that show would be the best feeling in the world for me. It was even more than that because of all the people there to see it — my family, the entire Revive team, the entire Raw team, Matt’s entire family. Everybody was there to witness and be a part of that moment with me.
BarBend: Next up is the Arnold Classic. Very few champions have won that show on their first try. The last to do it was William Bonac in 2018. Does the possibility of you being the next guy cross your mind often?
NW: It keeps me focused. I want to be one of the most elite bodybuilders in the world. The goal was to always be like Jay Cutler. I know how hard I work, and I know where my head’s at. As long as I stay focused and let nothing distract me, I believe I can win the Arnold Classic for sure.
BarBend: You mentioned Jay. Were there any other guys you looked up to or followed early on?
NW: Just Jay Cutler. I remember when I was younger, there was one specific video I watched. I was like 14 or 15 years old. It was a video on YouTube. He was big and shredded. There was a song that played called Wasted Years by Cold. That video was when I thought, “That is what I want to look like. That is exactly what I want to emulate.”
BarBend: Jay is well known for his business success as well. You have shared on your social media that you work for several brands and companies. What has been your approach to the business of bodybuilding, and what are your long-term goals?
NW: My main focus is competing at the moment, but you have to have the things on the side that will take over when competing is done. That’s what I’m trying to develop for myself right now so that when the time comes, I am set. I want to stay in the industry, come up with shows too. You never know what can happen. I don’t plan on being done anytime soon. I’m going to compete until the f****** wheels fall off. You always have to plan, though.
BarBend: Why do you think you’ve become so popular among fans so quickly?
NW: I’m just me. I don’t pretend to be something that I’m not. I think I developed a good fanbase early on when I lifted very heavy. They also got to see the other side of me, my personality. I think that developed an even bigger fanbase. I’m also very confident in myself, and I think people thoroughly enjoy that. I’m real. I am who I am, and I don’t change for anybody.
BarBend: You are also competing in your first Olympia this October. Where’s you’re head at heading into the biggest show in the sport?
NW: This is my Olympia debut, which is exciting, but I’m a very competitive person. It’s the biggest show of the year, but with how I was raised and my way of thinking, I’m training to win this the first time. For a lot of people, that sounds unrealistic and even delusional.
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I don’t go to any show and think of getting fifth as an accomplishment. I’ll never think that way, not even for the Olympia. I’m training to win, and that’s what I’m trying to do. In any sport, if you’re not training to win, what are you doing? People can say they are realistic. That’s great, man, but train to win.
BarBend: Aside from your coach Matt Jansen, who do you credit for helping you reach this point?
NW: My parents. They did a lot for me. They bought my food. They paid for my shows. They did things like that because they knew this time was going to come. When I put my head down for something, I don’t stop until I become the best. When you’re a kid, you really don’t know what your parents do to provide the best life for the kids. They do whatever they can to satisfy us. I never realized the struggles they went through. When I did realize it, if I lost, I felt like s*** because they went through all this, and I lost. Now they don’t have to worry about helping me, really. My main goal is to give back to them. Now that I’m living my dream, I want to help them live theirs too.
BarBend: What’s the first thing you’re going to do for them when the opportunity presents itself?
NW: Buy a house in Florida. I miss my parents terribly and want them here with me. If I could move them into my house, I would.
Featured Image: @nick_walker39 on Instagram