Hampton University Professor loses 104 Pounds to Reclaim the 2019 Mr. Virginia Title 24 Years Later

HAMPTON, Va. (June 26, 2019) – Dr. Rodney Gaines, assistant professor for the Hampton University Department of Health, Physical, Education, and Recreation, has recently won the National Championships of the American Natural Bodybuilding Federation after losing 104 lbs. over the past year. On June 8, Dr. Gaines competed in the 2019 International Natural Bodybuilding Association (INBA) World Championships in Athens, Greece where he placed 3rd in the Beach Body category, 4th in Sports Model and 7th in Bodybuilding Open Men between heights 165-170 cm. There were over 400 competitors in this competition.

“Dr. Rodney Gaines is a true inspiration. He is not only making strides personally, but professionally as well. He has done a fantastic job directing our summer equestrian camp for kids, and was the driving force behind Hampton University being named Gold Level Campus from the Exercise is Medicine On Campus Committee. We are incredibly proud of all of Dr. Gaines’ accomplishments,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey.

Since 1987, Dr. Gaines has been competing in various bodybuilding competitions all over the world. He won the 1995 AAU Overall Mr. Virginia Bodybuilding Championships in Hampton, Va., then competed in seven National Championships trying to turn professional in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) based out of Manhattan, NY. He won the 1999 WNBF Pro Mr. Universe title in Arizona, but shortly after that, he was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, which almost ended his career as a competitor. Five years after his diagnosis, he won the 2004 National Championships in Virginia Beach and won the 2004 Natural Mr. Olympia Mr. Fitness Competition in Las Vegas, NV.

Dr. Gaines started working in his current position at Hampton University in January of 2018. Prior to that, he spent two years living in South Kingston, Rhode Island, teaching. Dr. Gaines struggled with the colder weather up north and his lifetime battle with asthma took a turn for the worst. Dr. Gaines’ RA began to swell up while he was living in Rhode Island. During this time, his weight escalated from 185 lbs. up to 265 lbs. on his 5-foot-9 inch frame.

“I was on and off antibiotics and the pulmonologist gave me a nebulizer to use at home. In November, I went to the ER thinking that I was having a heart attack but it was high blood pressure and stress. That was the defining moment where I said ‘if I get out of here, then I’m going to lose the weight and will never get out of shape again!’ I saw the position at HU open up and I wanted to come home. God worked it out and as I left Rhode Island on a cold December night, I made myself a promise to run at Mount Trashmore every day until I lose the weight,” Dr. Gaines recalls.

When the summer of 2018 rolled around, Dr. Gaines took on a summer post as a security officer, where he started walking 8-10 miles a night doing foot patrol at various shopping centers. He noticed his weight started to come off easily from the walking. He started training regularly again with weights and cardio, and then changing his eating habits completely. He noticed his shortness of breath and wheezing from asthma did not occur anymore. The long runs and breadless, milk free, no pasta diet, healed him. For the first time in 51 years, Dr. Gaines was off his inhaler, cortisol inhaler, and pills for asthma.

After a seven-year layoff from professional bodybuilding championships, and now 51-years-old, Dr. Gaines has revived his bodybuilding career. His comeback show was the 2019 WPA Trident Bodybuilding Championships in Suffolk, Va., where Dr. Gaines won the bodybuilding portion of the show, regaining a pro card in a new federation. The very next day, he completed the 26.2 mile Shamrock Marathon, in 3 hours and 46 minutes. “I was just running the marathon to help lean up more for bodybuilding, but realized that the long runs on the oceanfront had prepared me to really run with confidence!” Dr. Gaines said.

Then in March 2019, Dr. Gaines flew to Arizona to compete in the 35-year running Copper Classic, where he won the masters bodybuilding division and enabled him to qualify for the Natural Olympia and INBA World Championships. He then entered the ANBF Virginia Championships, with hopes of becoming Mr. Virginia again, which came true! But he didn’t stop there. In May, Dr. Gaines went to Alabama and competed in the One World United Mr./Ms. International USA Championships, which was his first International/World competition of the season, and he would win the Classic Bodybuilding Championship picking up a world championship in 2019. Dr. Gaines plans to take a break after Greece with hopes of competing in November in the WNBF Worlds and the Natural Olympia.

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