John Fournier’s life changed dramatically in 2007 when he crashed his Suzuki GXR-750 motorcycle on a Savannah back road.
With a shattered left leg and stress fractures in the right, he was confined to a wheelchair for six months and forced to undergo extensive physical therapy.
It was the therapy, as much as the accident, that changed his life.
“Before the wreck, I had no direction. I was a typical college kid — young and dumb. I thought I was invincible. The accident was the turning point in my life,” said Fournier, who’s now 27 and lives in Richmond Hill. “Afterwards, when I was in rehab, I saw my body change and start to come back. I became fascinated with the human body and what it could do.”
After he recovered, he continued to test the limits of his body, building muscle tone and sculpting his physique. He spent hours at the gym and eventually became a personal trainer.
Then in 2009, a group of friends talked a reluctant Fournier into entering a bodybuilding competition.
“I did the first show just to be able to say I did it, but as soon as I got on stage, I fell in love with it. I was hooked.”
Since then, he’s competed in a total of five shows — the two most recent of which took place last month. He won his weight class at the 2012 NPC Georgia Bodybuilding Championships on July 7 and placed fifth at the NPC Southern States Championships one week later.
“Bodybuilding is not a sport to me. It’s a lifestyle,” he said. “I won’t lie. It’s hard. There are times I’m physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but it doesn’t matter because I love it. Those 10 minutes you’re on stage, it makes it all worth it.”
When he’s training for a competition, Fournier wakes up each morning at 4:45 a.m. and heads to the gym. He eats a meal every two hours — often consuming as much as 4 pounds of meat a day.
“People say I’m obsessed, but to me, I think if a doctor is obsessed with his work, he’s probably successful. So to me, if you’re obsessed, you’re going to be successful.”
His ultimate goal is to attain the coveted International Federation of BodyBuilders Pro Card — solidifying his status as a professional bodybuilder. To do so, he must win his weight class in one of three national championship events: The Nationals; the North American Championships; and the USA Championships contests.
Fournier’s ambition has not gone unnoticed. French film director Hugues Hariche encountered the bodybuilder at a past competition and subsequently created “Flow,” a short film starring Fournier that explores the daily life of an aspiring bodybuilder.
“He based the film on me, but it wasn’t a documentary,” said Fournier. “I’m way more of a jerk in the movie than I am in real life. In the film, I go through my everyday life, but I’m always focused on one goal. Like, whatever I do, I’m always thinking about the competition.”
“Flow” was released in 2012, and Fournier said Hariche intends to submit it to a number of European film festivals.
Fournier is a personal trainer at the 24 Seven Family Fitness club in Richmond Hill. He can be reached at 660-7973.