Body builder beats the odds

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Jeremy Decker goes pro after life-altering accident

By Taylor Riley

Jeremy Decker wasn’t supposed to ever walk again–let alone work out–after a freak accident on a motorcycle in 2010.

He was confined to his bed and had to teach himself to walk again. His love of fitness was on hold for the months of his painful recovery period.

Decker beat the odds, though. He won a national fitness competition recently and became a men’s physique pro.

Decker, the 42-year-old owner of Pride Heating and Cooling in New Castle, had a passion for health from an early age–working out and watching what he ate. It wasn’t until 2010 that he would realize how much fitness really meant to him.

He was making his way down Westport Road in Louisville when a car hit his motorcycle, spitting him into the busy Hurstbourne Lane intersection, coincidently as he left his gym.

A titanium rod was placed from his knee to hip and a plate was put in his arm. He was in such bad shape, doctors told him he would never work again or walk unassisted.

“But they didn’t know me,” Decker said.

He wheeled himself into the gym in October after his August accident. He exercised, even though he was going through excruciating pain.

“I couldn’t stand just sitting there,” Decker said. “I was in a depressed place.”

Eventually, persisting, Decker went from the wheelchair, to a walker, to a cane, and soon, could walk–with a limp.

“I don’t like being told I can’t do something,” he said. “It was rough; it wasn’t easy.”

He and his wife, Stephanie, made their way back to the gym daily, working out, and Jeremy began prepping his six to seven meals a day: rice, sweet potatoes, steak or chicken. He added more water to his strict diet, too, and he now drinks two gallons a day.

In 2013, Decker’s hard work paid off. He placed third in his first show. Just two years later, he started doing training for physique competitions–winners are typically more lean than bodybuilders.

Last year, he qualified for nationals at the Kentucky Derby Festival competition and he’s been winning ever since. In September of this year, Decker finally got the first place he was after at the 2018 NPC North American Championships, where he won in the men’s physique 40 plus category.

“I felt validated,” Decker, who is now considered a pro, said. “Everything that I’ve sacrificed was for a reason and not just a pipe dream.”

His trainer, Chauncey Wilson, thought so, too.

“It was kind of like hard work does pay off,” Wilson said. “To see everything come together, and the sacrifices he’s made ...it was just an amazing experience to share with not just a client but a friend.”

Now, Decker continues to look forward. He’s looking into getting a bodybuilding sponsor, running his business and prepping for the next competition.

“It’s a lifestyle,” Decker said about bodybuilding. “You can’t do it as a hobby or you won’t succeed.”

Decker’s fitness routine has even rubbed off on his family. He said his 5-year-old son cries when he thinks his father isn’t in fighting shape. And Stephanie, the matriarch of the family, is also going to the gym, after undergoing breast cancer, a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery.

“We’re fighters,” Decker said. “People would be surprised what they can do. Never count yourself out.”