By Bill Sorrell
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Moments before Chris Beaty was to take the stage for his first bodybuilding show, his posing trunks tore in half. The only replacements he could find were red crushed velvet.
Beaty went on to win first place in the overall novice category at the Battle of the Bluff in 2010 in Tunica. Afterward, a judge told him that he looked great, but he never should wear those trunks again.
“It was hilarious,” said Beaty, who competed last month in his sixth show, 1st Phorm Midwest Bodybuilding in St. Louis. He finished second.
Beaty competes as a natural in National Physique Committee-sanctioned events. He has two first-place wins and three other top-five finishes.
“I made a commitment to God to never use drugs,” said Beaty, 30, a member of Bellevue Baptist Church.
“You rely on Christ, not the drugs, to give you the physique that you are looking for. When people entice you to do drugs and say you will gain all this fame, you will be huge, you will have all this money, you will look great, my answer is, ‘I am not here on this Earth to be brought down by material things and what this world idolizes. I am here to present my body as a temple of Christ.’
“You can lift every weight in the world, but this body will perish. If you have the spirit in you which is the most important part of the body, that is the true meaning of life.”
The 5-10, 205-pound champion bodybuilder lifts six days a week about two hours a day. He also spends about 45 minutes on cardiovascular exercise. It takes him about 14 weeks to prepare for competition.
He and his wife, Sonya, train at Bartlett Recreation Center.
One of the area’s strongest bodybuilders, Beaty bench presses 225 pounds 30 straight times, 375 pounds eight times and maxes at 420 pounds. He has 21-inch flexed biceps.
He said diet matters as much as lifting.
“Eighty percent of what you put into your body makes what you look like,” said Beaty, who eats six meals a day, about 3,500 calories. Sonya prepares meals that include grilled fish and chicken, green beans, sweet potatoes and broccoli. He also takes about 14 supplements and vitamins — things “you can get off the shelf at GNC or the Vitamin Shop.”
Bodybuilding judges rate contestants on tightness, hardness and a dry look to enhance muscle striations. Beaty wants to compete with a 29-inch waist and 3 percent body fat.
Beaty is a 10-year veteran of the Memphis Police Department. He works as a Crisis Intervention Team officer. Sonya is also a Memphis police officer. They both work out of the West Precinct on Union.
On the job, Beaty uses his physique to his advantage. “When I tell people to do something, they pretty much comply,” he said. Fellow officers ask for advice on nutrition and lifting, although some “laugh because they have seen me in a bikini.”
Beaty’s goal is to become a professional bodybuilder and join the IFBB Professional League. His mentor, Ron Nurse, a 56-year-old Memphis bodybuilder who finished first in Team Universe competitions in 2002 and 2003, believes Beaty will make it.
“He knows you can accomplish what you set your mind on as long as you have Jesus,” said Nurse, a member of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church. “Whenever God has something for you, you have to be patient and wait on God’s time. Competition is real hard. It’s hard to move up in the ranks and compete without drugs. Chris brings a great attitude. You can get frustrated if you are not stable and spiritually based.”
Beaty’s spiritual foundation was laid by his mother, Cathy Beaty, who led him to Christ when he was 10. His father, Les Hall, died of lung cancer when Chris was 9.
“With my job, my passion is to help others in any way and to get a message of Christ,” Beaty said.
“For my sport, it is to tell people to go after your dreams. God’s purpose is to show that if you trust in Him, if you have faith, nothing is impossible.”
When Beaty competes, he wears two necklaces.
One is a silver necklace that belonged to his late grandmother, Velma Beaty. The other is a necklace Sonya gave him — a shield with a cross and an inscription of Philippians 4:13:
“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”