PEORIA — Robb Walker has worn a lot of hats since he grew up in Peoria and went to Woodruff High School.
High school band member, playing the flute. Color guard member, the only male in a Peoria high school color guard unit at the time. Marine. In another year, a new name — Dr. Walker.
And right now, at age 49, champion bodybuilder.
“I just really connect to bodybuilding competition,” said Walker, a 1991 Woodruff graduate now working and training in Austin, Texas. “I competed last year and didn’t get first, so I didn’t earn my pro card.
“In a way, that was a blessing, because it left a bad taste for me, really pushed me.”
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The 5-foot-6 Walker trained under Oregon-based coach Bleu Taylor — and with Washington state-based posing coach David Paterik — and came back with a vengeance to dominate the 2021 National Physique Committee Masters USA national competition in December at Scottsdale, Ariz.
The NPC offers divisions for competition in the sport’s three categories: Bodybuilding, Physique, and Classic Physique.
Walker collected his pro cards in five events, finishing first in Men’s Classic Physique Masters 45+, 40+ and 35+, and firsts in Men’s Bodybuilding Masters Welterweight 45+ and 40+. He finished second in the Welterweight 35+.
“My goal was to win one category and get my pro card,” Walker said. “But they just kept calling my name, and bringing me back to up to the stage. I thought I was being pranked.
“For me, I love the smell of spray tan backstage, getting prepared. I love the competition from people coming from different places. I love the challenge of making changes to your body.”
From the Warriors to the Marines
Walker grew up in Peoria, played the flute in the Woodruff High School band, says he became the only male to join a color guard unit among Peoria high schools and found out how much he loved the journey no matter what path he took.
He was in the Marines from 2002-2006, which is where he began focusing on his fitness.
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Walker is about a year from earning a Ph.D. in criminal justice/Homeland Security at Liberty University.
He works as a staff services officer IV, an assistant to the deputy executive commissioner at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.
Fish, fish and more fish
Walker says his training regimen is 20 weeks leading up to a show. In the early phase, he eats seven meals a day, loading proteins and vegetables and drinking more than a gallon of water per day.
Workouts are one hour, and 30 minutes is spent on cardio.
As the weeks go by, the workouts increase in intensity.
And the food? “We’re constantly adjusting what I eat and the workouts based on the look of my body,” Walker said. “In weeks 10-15, it’s nothing but whitefish. Maybe a couple rice meals. But yeah, it’s 10 weeks of eating only tilapia or cod. Man, that was hard. But my body was ready for it.”
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How he found bodybuilding
Walker was in Gold’s Gym in Austin one day when a female acquaintance talked to him about bodybuilding and physique competitions.
Those are two different categories in the NPC show format. He’s competed in both.
“I knew about bodybuilding, but I didn’t know there were different categories,” Walker said. “She guided me into it. I tried bodybuilding shows, switched over to men’s physique shows.
“Then I got serious about the bodybuilding category shows in 2019. My coach and I did the work. Now I have pro status, and I’m going to compete in a pro national show in Baltimore in October.
“I just love doing this.”
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers Bradley men’s basketball, the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.