Bega Valley athlete Clay Ryan takes the mentality of “beat the best to be the best”.
It’s a trait he said he picked up from his dad, Ray Ryan, as well as a love of boxing and rugby league.
“I’ve always been an athlete to an extent and I get it from Dad I suppose, he’s still reffing the footy at 60.”
His driven nature bode well recently, placing third in the open Male Fitness category of the INBA State body-building titles.
“If you’re going to bother, go hard, face the best straight away as you’ll have to meet them one day,” Ryan said of his decision to skip the novice level and tackle the top level open round.
“I like setting goals for myself, I am a competitive bugger, even playing ping-pong,” he says with a laugh.
The competition involved posing on stage simultaneously with more than a dozen other athletes in front of about 10 judges and a crowd of 1000.
Each athlete got a chance to shine singularly in a single routine of poses, but each athlete had to perform poses concurrently for judges to compare.
“It’s quite vain when you think about it,” Ryan says with a laugh. “But they want to compare how you look, it’s judged purely on that.”
Athletes do front, side and back poses with Ryan now qualifying for the national titles after scoring third place.
“I aimed to be top five, but finishing third is gold,” he said.
“I’ll be going in the opens again at the nationals and straight up against the big dogs in the country’s best.”
With the competition to run in four weeks, Ryan said he was in about the best shape of his life, but would “fine-tune” for the event.
“You still go to the gym five days a week, but you’re more about looking natural, fitness is kind of like the beach body I guess you could say,” Ryan said, adding that a key factor was diet.
“You’ve got to eat right and eat clean – six times a day – people think you starve yourself, but you’re probably eating more than most, you’re just metabolising so fast.”
There’s plenty of protein and a focus on low GI, but Ryan said he had just adapted everything he learned from boxing, where he held two state titles late in his teens.
He said the biggest challenge was dropping to three or four per cent fat, but maintaining muscle mass.
Ryan said his cousin, and United Fitness gym owner Shaun Ruzicka, was also influential on his development, introducing him to gym training.
“Even before he opened United fitness, I trained with him at home in his garage.”
Ryan said he was mates with Bega body-builder Lachlan Carey and a number of guys from Canberra who compete, but had earlier had no interest in body-building.
“It was only when I found out there was the fitness class I got interested, because I still want to run and play footy and do a lot of cardio stuff,” Ryan said.