Charlotte area bodybuilder competes in online fitness contest

As Olivia Newton-John once said, “let’s get fiscal, fiscal.” OK, maybe those aren’t the exact lyrics, but a Charlotte-area personal trainer and professional bodybuilder is taking the suggestion literally.

Emmett Ballard of Waxhaw is gearing up for Mr. Health and Fitness, one of the largest and most prestigious online fitness competitions. The event is hosted by Muscle & Fitness magazine and is open to fitness enthusiasts around the world. The winner will receive a $20,000 prize and will be featured in a two-page spread.

Charlotte-area bodybuilder and personal trainer Emmett Ballard says he really got into weightlifting and fitness while enrolled at Winthrop University in Rock Hill. Courtesy of Shane Moroson

If he wins, Ballard plans to donate the prize to the Common Cupboard program of Common Heart, a nonprofit that collects food donations for Union County families in need.

“Common Cupboard is definitely a savior,” Ballard said. “It was there for me at a time that I needed it most, and I see myself in the families that I deliver to. I want to give back to them.”

Introduction to Fitness

Ballard, 38, became interested in weight training and fitness when he was a child. As a 12-year-old in Columbia, S.C. with no access to a gym, he used his grandmother’s broomstick and cinder blocks to mimic weights. Fast forward six years to high school graduation, and Ballard weighed 120 pounds “soaking wet.”

He bulked up while enrolled at Winthrop University. Ballard estimates that he hit 200 pounds at school before entering world of professional bodybuilding after graduation.

Personal training, however, is the passion that fulfills his ultimate goal: to define his life not by what he does, but by what he gives to others.

“Fitness helped me build strength and confidence,” Ballard said. “Being able to give that same gift to people is how I see myself changing the world. If I can make one person feel better about themselves, then that touches the other people in their life and so on.”

Ballard said he thinks this sort of ripple effect applies to all facets of life — especially the areas that impact vulnerable members of society.

It’s that goal — to enact positive, community-focused change — that Ballard believes sets him apart from his competition, not his training or competitive nature.

Charlotte-area bodybuilder and personal trainer Emmett Ballard will donate prize money to nonprofit Common Heart’s Common Cupboard program in North Carolina, if he wins the $20,000 Mr. Health and Fitness competition. Courtesy of Shane Moroson

Commitment to Community

Ballard has volunteered at Common Heart as a Common Cupboard ally for just over eight years. Common Cupboard is a food pantry delivery service that provides a week’s worth of groceries to families in need of financial assistance.

On the third Saturday of the month, he delivers groceries to 10-13 households and visits with residents. The work that Ballard and other Common Cupboard volunteers do allows the organization to serve about 350 families each month. Ballard estimates that, with the $20,000, he could help 800 families in the Common Cupboard network.

Common Cupboard holds a large place in Ballard’s heart. Around seven years ago, he and his family received food through the organization after he was forced to close his gym.

A grateful Ballard made it one of his goals to give back to an organization that has given him so much.

“I believe that true living is giving — whether it be time, money, resources, energy or effort,” he said. “I plan on giving all of that and more.”

In addition to his dedication to Common Cupboard, Ballard highlighted the importance he sees in Mr. and Ms. Health and Fitness competitions’ commitment to raise money for Jared Allen’s Homes for Wounded Warriors, which builds and remodels injury-specific, accessible and mortgage-free homes for critically injured veterans. Allen spent one season of a 12-year NFL career with the Carolina Panthers.

About Mr. Health & Fitness

The first round of voting ended Thursday, June 24. Ballard advanced to the second round of the Mr. Health & Fitness competition alongside 14 of the group’s original 41 competitors. Next, the group will be whittled down to 10. This pattern will continue until the fourth round, when just one entrant from each group remains. Competitors rely on supporters to vote them into the next round. The more votes, the higher a competitor ranks in the group — and the better the chance of pushing on to the next round of voting.

Competitors are semi-randomly placed in groups. With thousands of individuals participating in this year’s competition, there are dozens of groups.

Winners of the preliminaries will be divided into quarterfinal groups and the process will repeat again until a Mr. Health & Fitness is chosen.

Those who want to vote for Ballard can do so free once per day with a Facebook login at Donations can be made to get more votes.