By Justin Johnson
We managed to scrape an exclusive interview with Jon Harris after his WNBF World Overall Title win. Read how Jon believes he won, this plans for 2007, his DVD plans and how he intends to defend his title in 2007.
JJ: Congratulations once again Jon on a fantastic win. Can you tell me, when did you know (if you knew) that you were in with a chance and did you feel the overall was in sight too?
JH: Thank you Justin. Well, I have to say at no point during the show did I feel confident about the win. I felt confident with my prep, tan, stage presence and also with my physique on the day. All the little details that I can control were taken care of. I did everything I could, but there were just so many good physiques there to start celebrating prematurely. You cannot control what others look like and you definitely cannot control the judging. Onlookers did start telling me after pre-judging that I had it, but experience tells me not to get carried away with those sort of comments, after all, itís judged over three rounds and there was still work to do, so I just stayed focused right through to the end.
JJ: Who did you consider to be your biggest threat and did it turn out that way?
JH: Well, if Iím being honest, I had my sights set on the overall going into the comp, and with two of the big names out of the lightweight class (Rob Hope and Dave Goodin), I looked to the reining heavyweight champ Ben Tennessen as my main competition. As it turns out, the night before the show I got hold of a copy of the latest Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness magazine, and saw an article on US cup winner Clarence McGill. I turned to my wife and said there and then that this guy could give me some trouble! He looked superb, and then my focus immediately switched back to concentrating on winning my own class and not the overall. In the end, it was these two gents, Clarence and Ben, who would be the eventual obstacles on route to my victory.
JJ: On the world stage, and assuming you compete next year, who will be the one to watch?
JH: Clarence will be my main competition, I have no doubt about that. Heís gunning for me and told me so the day after. I hope Brandon comes back also, he impressed me with the level to which he has taken his physique considering heís only been competing a few years. If Jim Cordova makes a comeback he could be in the mix too. Also, Ben Tennessen is always a threat for the overall if he takes the heavies.
JJ: What do you believe your success was due to this time, were there any changes in your preparation that you believe helped or was it just two years of hard work!
JH: First off I have to admit I did not train my butt off during the full two-year absence. I had a big break from the gym to concentrate on business ventures, and only resumed hard training in maybe the last six months before the show. Even then, it wasnít until I finally committed to do the worlds, some twelve weeks out, that I ďdropped the hammerĒ so to speak, and went all-out with my training.
One thing Iíve steadily improved upon each year is how lean Iíve stayed off-season. This year I stayed very lean, no more than about seven pounds over my ďfightingĒ weight of around 170 pounds. After the layoff, my body was in a receptive state where I was able to strip fat and build muscle at the same time. So much so, that I lost no bodyweight at all during my pre-contest period. I stayed at 12 stones pretty much all the way through. Because I was leaner to begin with I was able to consume more calories and therefore hold onto more lean muscle tissue. This made the dieting a breeze. I worked with my body, not against it, and was rewarded with a fuller and healthier looking physique at the end of it.
JJ: What are your goals now, have these changed? Do you feel different to how you thought you would feel having won?
JH: My goal now is to defend my world title in 2007. To be honest I didnít really speculate before the show on how Iíd feel or what I would do if I won Ė I darenít! Although I guess that maybe Iíd have felt one win was enough. However, winning gives you the confidence to believe in yourself, and this suddenly makes the prospect of defending quite attractive. Also having done the worlds off the back of twelve weeks of solid training, Iím excited about what improvements I can make given a whole twelve months of commitment.
JJ: Do you feel there is anything left to aim for?
JH: In natural bodybuilding there is nothing left to achieve. In my opinion the WNBF pro world title is the pinnacle of the sport. No one has won the menís world title three times yet, so that is something further to aim for. Although Iím under no illusions of how difficult that challenge is. No oneís done it precisely because itís so damned hard! I think it will be sensible to take things one year at a time.
JJ: When will you be competing again and will we get to see you on a British stage next year? I am sure I speak for Jan Williams and myself when I say we would love to see you at the Mike Williams Classic!
JH: Well thank you! Right now I am tempted to go back and defend my world title, but I will guarantee that in the absence of that I will definitely come back and compete on UK soil. The Mike Williams Pro-Am is a superb show and one that I would love to compete in. I am also humbled by the fact that so many people want to see me compete again in Britain. Right now though, I am tied to the WNBF contractually and so cannot compete in the UK. Itís not the ideal scenario but those are the rules. I will however, be guest posing at the NPA Yorkshire in 2007, so I am very grateful for that opportunity.
JJ: You said you were staying in shape for the DVD, when will this be recorded and when and how will we be able to get hold of a copy?
JH: The DVD will be recorded first thing in the New Year. It was originally going to be filmed prior to the worlds, but basically I ran out of time. Iím a stickler for doing things right and Iíve been spending a lot of time researching and planning out the structure and content. It will be available from my website early in the New Year. Also, Michael Phillips has kindly agreed to let me have a stand at the 2007 NPA Yorkshire, so people will be able to pick up a copy there.
JJ: How about the new book, I guess this is a project for the New Year right?
JH: The new book is currently on the backburner as completing the DVD is my main priority. But my wife has bought me a laptop PC this Christmas so I can spend more time writing when Iím away from home. Iíll be taking a new slant, a more scientific approach with it. I have a strong science background, but my first book, Pro Natural, was tailored for beginners and intermediates, so I didnít get too heavy with the science. This time around I will reach out a little further and flesh out some tentative new theories on the sport that I have been experimenting with, as well as analysing some existing ones. If you like studying graphs, equations and diagrams then this will definitely be your cup of tea.
JJ: Reading your web site, I see you conduct specialised personal training sessions taking an afternoon at a time and discussing everything from Training to Nutrition. Who would benefit most from such sessions and should we book a session with you? What type of preparation would be needed ahead of this?
JH: I get all sorts of people take up these consultations from all over the country. Men, women, beginners, intermediates, competitors, non-competitors, all sorts. The main thing they have in common is they reach a sticking point with their progress and need direction. It can either be a nutrition problem, or training, or motivation, or a combination. People also come to see me for guidance on contest prep, posing and choreography. I put together a whole routine in one session, and not just any old routine. I work with the music to produce something that shows off the clientís strengths and hides their weaknesses. Itís a judged round and so in a closely fought battle, having a polished, well thought-out routine can make the difference between winning and losing.
All I ask clients to bring is their current training and diet plan and their posing costume, and plenty of food as you know what bodybuilders are like, they need feeding often, especially with the posing being such hard work!
JJ: What are your medium and longer term plans in bodybuilding, will you continue to compete?
JH: Well, Iím 31 now and so realistically I see no reason why I cant compete and continue to improve for at least another decade. I have a saying that in natural bodybuilding you get a really good innings, unlike many sports where youíre considered over the hill when you pass your early to mid thirties. Iím just coming into my prime now, and am excited that my best years are still ahead of me. So, as long as I can stay healthy, motivated, continue to improve, and fit competing into my lifestyle, then I will keep going. I have no kids yet, which makes things easier. Speaking to friends who have them, it does make competing so much harder, because you cannot just ignore them for weeks on end while you concentrate on yourself.
JJ: Who now in your opinion will be the people to watch next year?
JH: In the UK, the guys who impress me are those with balanced, aesthetic physiques. Guys like Dell Galloway, Gary Hill and Abdul Miah. I donít know if they will compete next year but they will all make superb middleweights, and in my opinion all have the potential in time to become British overall champions. They have great attitudes to the sport too. They never expect any more out of it than they put in, and thatís the way it should be. Right now though, for 2007, I think Neil Ashley will be the man to watch. If he can bring up his back a little more he will take some stopping.
JJ: Who do you believe has the most potential?
JH: This is a difficult question to answer because itís not always obvious who will fulfill their potential. We all see guys and girls with great prospects but all too often they give up and fall by the wayside, or fail to make the improvements we expect of them. On the other hand there are those who donít particularly stand out, then all of a sudden, they get their act together and BOOM! They make the most of their genetics and fulfill that potential. A great example is Rob Feesey. Not the worldís greatest genetics but when heís on form he can topple many a gifted bodybuilder.
Right now, I would say the guys with the most potential are the youngsters like Gary Hill, Abdul Miah, Sam bond and Jay Hollingsworth. They all have time on their side and the anabolic window of their twenties to exploit. Sam and Abdul just need to figure out a way of dialing in their condition (Sam more so), and as for Jay, all he needs is more experience onstage to perfect his presentation, because he has all the other tools. Gary just needs to decide when he wants it, because itís a big world out there and I know he has other interests outside bodybuilding. As for the ladies, I think Lynn Sneddon has awesome potential, which sheís just beginning to tap into by honing her condition.
JJ: What is your most recent DIY project and how long did it take to finish (I will only publish this one if it took months, just to make my wife feel better!)
JH: Well, as you know Justin I love DIY and after renovating my house, which took five years I needed another project to sink my teeth into. So I decided to build my own log-cabin home gym at the bottom of the garden. It arrived flat pack so all I needed to do was slot it together. The main concern was building a strong enough base to support it and all the weight Iíd be hurling around, so I built it on an array of five, one-tonne concrete sleepers. All in all it took around sixteen weeks to build, thatís including all the ground work, building, painting and staining etc. It took a few additional months to kit it out, but now itís done I use it most days, and I must say itís one of the more successful DIY jobs Iíve completed!
JJ: What were your favorite pictures of you this year and can we see them?
JH: Some of the best shots were actually taken at the NPA finals guest spot, of which the abs and thigh by Huw Jones is my favourite. I am currently waiting for a photo CD to arrive back from the worlds, which Iím sure will have some good pictures too. I have included a few shots Iíve been sent in the meantime.
JJ: What is your most favored supplement, the one you feel has most effect on you for the better?
JH: Well, two supplements are equally important to me but for different reasons. Whey protein is the first. I use Maximuscleís Promax, but any good whey protein is useful for bodybuilders. It can be difficult consuming five or six solid food meals a day, so itís convenient to break it up with a whey protein based meal. Whey is ideal at breakfast and post-workout when the body is low in amino acids and needs a quick influx to maintain positive nitrogen balance.
The second supplement is Udoís oil, which is rich in essential omega 3 and 6 fats that the body cannot manufacture. I use this year-round as itís a general good-health supplement, but I feel the benefits of it most when Iím dieting down and restricting my intake of normal fats. The Udoís keeps my energy levels up, my hormone levels stabilised and actually helps me get leaner. It also keeps my hair and skin in good condition which is a nice side-effect.
Actually, one of my favourite meals is whey mixed with oats, hot water and a dessertspoon of Udoís. Then I chop a banana up and throw it in the mix. I eat this for breakfast and post workout, sometimes adding a bit of honey to sweeten it, plus maybe some creatine too, although I tend to cycle that.
JJ: How strict are you over your diet on and off-season, do you have any cheats at all? If so what?
JH: Off-season I have a small cheat most days; usually bit of ice-cream or chocolate, or something similar. However, I keep my core meals pretty clean and just have the odd splurge on top. I do actually like clean, healthy food, like fruit, vegetables, salads, brown rice and sweet potatoes etc., so I never feel like Iím depriving myself by eating these foods. When Iím dieting I tend to eliminate the cheats, gradually tightening things up as the weeks progress. Things like chocolate tend to go out in week one, with less damaging cheat foods such as bread and pasta being eliminated a little further along the line.
JJ: Will you be attending any British shows in 2007 and will you be conducting any seminars?
JH: I plan to be at most NPA shows this year, either judging or attending. I am also talking with my local gym in Coalville, Leicestershire, about running a seminar in the New Year too.