Andre McShan was embarrassed.
He sprinted around the track in his shirt, trying to fit in. But every other eighth-grader was a little bit bigger, a little bit stronger. McShan, now a senior at Shoemaker, had “noodle arms.”
Unhappy with his outward appearance, the former 200- and 400-meter sprinter decided to hit the gym.
Five years later, McShan is one of Central Texas’ most successful teen bodybuilders. The Shoemaker senior is only in his second year of competitive bodybuilding but has already won top prizes in 13 competitions since 2011, and was recently named Krave Fit magazine’s “Prince of Bodybuilding.”
“It’s kind of weird but I started bodybuilding at first because of track, I was embarrassed running around the track in my cut off shirt with my noodle arms,” McShan said.
Even though McShan found his way into the gym, he struggled to see the results he wanted.
“I was making progress but not like I had hoped,” McShan said. “Then one night at the gym, I noticed a big, buff, massive dude looking over at me, I was worried at first but he came over and wanted to correct my form, and offered to train me for free as long as I gave him everything I got.”
That trainer was John Dowd, who was stationed, at the time, at Fort Hood, with experience in bodybuilding.
“The first six months of training with John, he put me through hell, but I ended up packing on 26 pounds of muscle,” McShan said.
On top of the grueling workouts he performs each morning and evening, McShan has to eat six to eight meals throughout the day to properly fuel his body.
“My day starts off at 5:30 a.m. with cardio, and ends at 1:30 a.m. after I finish cooking the next day’s meals,” said McShan. “I eat a lot of protein shakes, chicken breast, fish, broccoli and green beans.”
But the 19-year-old admits that eating right is not always easy.
“I see all of those fast food restaurants on Clear Creek, I just have to ignore every one of them,” McShan said. “It’s pretty tough day in and day out, but you have to make sacrifices for this sport.”
“I have an expensive body ... if you’re eating from the dollar menu, you will have a dollar body.”
When Dowd was later stationed at another base, McShan found himself in his garage with only himself to rely on for motivation and support.
“It’s tough training by yourself... having no one there to smile at you, or tell you you’re doing a good job,” McShan said. “But in order to be a champion, you have to be able to make the impossible, possible.”