Via Bernal / M + F Magazin
The Des Pyrenees bodybuilding competition doesn't have a handicap division – but that didn't stop Edgard John-Augustin, a bodybuilder with two prosthetic legs, from asserting herself among competitive athletes.
Unfortunately, John-Augustin was allowed to pose on the show in 2015, but he could not be judged. However, his performance was so impressive that he received an invitation to participate in the European Wheelchair Bodybuilding Championship, which took place in Spain three weeks later. He won it.
"It was an achievement, proof that anything is possible," says John-Augustin. "I worked hard to get on stage, and people's love felt so good and intense that I had love to perform on stage."
And when he doesn't show up in front of an audience, John-Augustin spreads love to his 384,000 Instagram followers (@bionic_body) to inspire them to follow their dreams – no matter what challenges they face.
After all, if it's one thing he knows, it's how he can recover from adversity.
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Sometimes in life you notice that the greatest strength is not muscular but mental. Agree? , You have the opportunity to spend moments in which you get to know the entire program and the most important muscle methods. Do it d’accord avec ça? , By: @perbernalphoto. #noexcuses #nolimits #keepgoing #prosthetics #bionic
John-Augustin was only 4 years old when his mother lost control of her car and crashed on a freeway in his home country of French Guiana. On impact, a guardrail pierced the rear window in which Augustin was sitting. When he came to the wreck, he noticed that both legs were missing.
"I remember a lot of blood and a stranger who saved our lives and drove us to the hospital," says John-Augustin.
Over the course of a few years, he had to endure a handful of operations and learn how to handle prostheses.
"But I was also a happy child," he says. "I tried to do everything the other kids my age did, like running, climbing trees and swimming."
At the age of 20, he moved to France to acquire his Brevet de Technicien Supérieur or a university degree. The stress of the exams put a strain on his body, so he decided to go to the gym to exercise. The weight room quickly became his ultimate stress reliever.
"I've never stopped training since the first time," he says.
As for training, John-Augustin has no restrictions on his upper body workout. And even though he measures his legs down from the kneecaps, he says he can still use the leg extension and leg press machines to pull his quads together.
However, his prostheses do not give him much balance, so he cannot do free-standing barbell squats – so he compensates for this with V-squats or minced-squats. The lack of balance also sometimes makes it difficult to pose on stage.
But you won't hear him talk about it that much. In general, you won't hear him complain much at all. "I just have to deal with it and find another way," he says.
Despite his affinity for the gym, John-Augustin had no intention of becoming a professional bodybuilder.
For many years he hid his prostheses in long pants from the public. Only his closest friends and family knew about his disability.
Finally, a close friend persuaded him to take part in a photo shoot. He was only wearing shorts. The photographer posted the photos on Facebook and received thousands of likes and comments from people inspired by John-Augustin's bravery and strength.
Shortly thereafter, friends and co-workers named him "The Bionic Body", a nickname that has remained.
"It was my choice to call myself that on social media," he says. "I would never change it." The same friends persuaded John-Augustin to do bodybuilding. "I love the commitment, the hard work, the necessary rigor," he says.
Today, the classic competitor of the IFBB Pro League takes part in shows against high-performing competitors.
"It is difficult for the judges to judge me and the other athletes," says John-Augustin, "but my greatest pride is to be on stage alongside great athletes that I admire."