MCDONOUGH — Of all the trophies a recent high school graduate can bring home, the last in your mind would be the one Austin White secured.
It’s about 1-foot tall and sculpted in a bronze-like metal. The figure of a male flexing his muscles sits atop the pedestal, which reads, “2015 NPC Georgia, Bodybuilding Championships, Teen Men.”
And right below all of that are two words — “Overall Winner.”
The 17-year-old White became Mr. Teenage Georgia in Men’s Bodybuilding last Saturday at the Georgia World Congress Center. Besides winning his own division, he beat three other competitors to be named the overall champion.
He wasn’t the only local to bring back some hardware. Garrett Couch, who turned 19 in May, is now Mr. Teenage Georgia in Men’s Physique.
It was their first competition.
“It’s something out of the ordinary but we’ve always been the kind of people that want to do different things,” White said. “What’s the point of being on this Earth if all you want to do is be like everybody else? We don’t want to be average.”
Judging by their accolades, they’re definitely not average.
In the week leading up to the NPC Georgia Championships, they didn’t eat carbohydrates. They mostly survived on packages of tilapia, a leaner protein than chicken.
“We ate 10 meals of tilapia a day,” White said.
Added Couch: “That was 42 pieces of tilapia.”
They then cut themselves off from water around 48 hours before the event in an effort to dehydrate their bodies. By doing so, their muscles and veins became more defined, which is a big part of what they were judged on.
But they also had to strut about the stage flexing muscles and striking poses, using their personality to win over the judges.
Before that, they spent months training for the contest. White started working with Arthur Reed, a local police officer and International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness professional, 30 weeks before NPC. Together, they came up with a regimen that would bring White’s physique to its peak form right before the contest.
Whatever tips White got, he’d share with Couch. The friends worked out together and encouraged each other. The latter was crucial to reaching the NPC stage at all.
“A lot of people would think because we’re bodybuilding, it’s physical,” White said. “It’s so much more mental than anything at all.”
Added Couch: “I just about dropped out two days before the show. He talked me out of it.”
Had White not managed to convince his friend to stay in the competition, Couch wouldn’t have the opportunity now to earn his professional card. He wants to continue competing in the physique category and garner national attention.
“I want to give my body some time to recuperate too,” Couch said. “We depleted our bodies. I want to get my body back on track, do a clean bulk, cut back down and then do a show.”
On the other hand, White doesn’t plan to go back. He used bodybuilding as a springboard into professional wrestling, which he had to wait to pursue until he turns 18 in a few weeks. A few years from now, he hopes to be in the WWE, fulfilling the dream he’s had since he was 8.
But at least they can both say they’ve done something the kids who bullied them in middle school never would have expected.
“When we got those trophies that night, it meant the world,” White said. “You know you’ve worked for it. It wasn’t just handed to you. You didn’t just wake up and say, ‘Oh, there’s a show tomorrow, let me go get on stage.’ It was a long process but this is you. You did this. Nobody else did this.”
White and Couch are in the opening stages of starting a “fitness family. The House of Muscles is always unlocked to those who have been through mental or physical struggles. People are locked into their everyday lives and they unlock their goals by pushing their bodies, both mentally and physically, to another level. House of Muscles’ main priority is to keep on pushing people to reach their goals and pursues their dreams.”
For more information, contact White and Couch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow the Instagram @houseofmuscles.