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Transformative Experience

Bodybuilder Winters uses sport
to set an example for others

The Louisville native is gearing up
for Ky. Open show in August

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (August 2019) – Billy Winters just wanted to lose weight, per his doctor’s orders, when at age 38 he had reached 240 pounds and 33 percent body fat and was having health problems and trouble sleeping. But two years into his weight-loss program with a fitness coach, something happened. Winters was encouraged to train for, and participate in, a bodybuilding show.

Photo provided

Billy Winters of Louisville, Ky., is pictured before and after changing his eating and workout habits, from 240 pounds at age 38 to 205 pounds today at age 45.

He agreed to go for it. The decision has changed his life.
Now the Louisville, Ky., native and resident is training for his fifth show – the Kentucky Open, a national qualifying event set for Aug. 24 at Lexington, Ky.’s Heritage Hall – Winters has become a walking, talking promoter of show competition to anyone who wants to hear about it.
“I don’t push it on anyone because it is a major commitment and dedication of time,” said Winters, now 45 and weighing in at 205 and 8 percent body fat. “But if anyone wants to talk about it, I love to talk about it with them. I want to be an example and inspire others – even if it means just getting them out to exercise more.”
He must get down to 197 pounds before the show, where he plans to compete in the Open Classic Physique and the Masters classes. The Masters class will be for those 35 and over. Should he place in the top two of either division, he will advance to the National Physique Committee’s North American Championships the following week in Pittsburgh. The top two in each class at Nationals can qualify for their pro card.
Winters entered two powerlifting competitions in 2014. He competed in the Kentucky Open in 2016, where he placed in the top two of his class, allowing him to advance to the Junior Nationals show, held in 2017 in Charleston, S.C. Now he is back in the gym at the Louisville Athletic Club, working out twice a day – at 5:30 a.m. and again at 5:30 p.m. – with his training coach, Haney Salid.
Even when not training for a show, he continues his regiment in what he calls “off season prep.” You never want to get too far away from it in case you want to compete again.” He started preparing for this upcoming show back on Dec. 8, then goes into heavy “show prep” about 12 weeks out. It requires cardio, weight lifting, strict dieting and constant monitoring of his body fat by his coach.

Photo by Don Ward

Billy Winters works out at Louisville Athletic Club in preparation for the August show.

“It takes a lot of dedication, but it’s a choice,” Winters said. “To be able to play golf or basketball or drive a race car, it takes a certain skill. But this is sheer will power. You have to want to do it. You just keep pushing your body hard and you begin to see the results.”
He said dieting is 80 percent of it. And you must give up alcohol, a decision that is hard for many. In addition, his wife, Karen, must also adjust to his rigorous workout habits and dieting. “It’s hard because you have work and vacations to deal with. You have to sacrifice a lot to do this.”
Winters says he gets “thousands of questions” from his friends and acquaintances about his regiment, but most people are not willing or able to give up that kind of time and dedication to pursue it, he said.
In addition to weight training and dieting, Winters was coached on posing and being comfortable on stage wearing a speedo. “It makes you a little nervous, but it’s exciting at the same time,” he said.
Gene Goode and his wife, Tina, of Lancaster, Ky., have been running the Kentucky Open for the past 12 years. It used to be held at the Frankfort Convention Center, but it was aging and was eventually torn down two years ago. The Goodes moved the event to a new venue in Owensboro last year, but they found it to be too far for most of their competitors – most of them come from Louisville, Lexington and southern Ohio. So this year, a date opened up at Heritage Hall.
“We started out in a high school gym with only 19 competitors,” said Goode, 61. “Now we’re up to 300 competitors from 11 states coming to our shows.”
Two years ago, the Goodes expanded it into a sports expo, adding a festival atmosphere and competitions in Strongman, Power Lifting and Arm Wrestling – all taking place simultaneously.
“Since our show is a week before the Nationals, a lot of guys use it as a last warmup, so we typically have amazing quality at our shows.”
Unless he qualifies for Nationals, Winters says this will probably be his last show because the grueling training and dieting wears on you.
“But I’ll never say never,” he said with a smile.

• For more information on the show, visit the website: www.KyOpenBodybuilding.com.

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