Down syndrome is a set of physical and mental traits caused by a gene problem that happens before birth. Children who have Down syndrome tend to have certain features, such as a flat face and a short neck. They also have some degree of intellectual disability. This varies from person to person. But in most cases it is mild to moderate.
In May 2015, Collin Clarke weighed 201 pounds, with 37 percent body fat.
It was around that same time that the 22-year-old walked by the multipurpose studio at Bob’s Gym in Evansville, Indiana where he worked behind the front desk. He peeked inside the room, and spotted personal trainer Glenn Ubelhor practicing his bodybuilding posing routine in the mirror.
That was the moment Clarke’s life changed forever.
Six months later, he stepped on stage at Kentucky Muscle, a bodybuilding competition in Louisville, wearing only a pair of posing trunks.
He weighed 137 pounds, with 7.2 percent body fat.
Clarke’s dramatic transformation is both physical and emotional. Training gave him confidence, independence, and a focus of purpose that flooded into other aspects of his life, says his mother Jodie Clarke.
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Now, when he walks through the doors at Bob’s Gym, “I feel happy,” says Clarke. “It puts a smile on my face.” His new go-to slogan: “Never give up.”
And he wants to inspire others to live healthier, happier lives, too.
Shortly after his performance at Kentucky Muscle, Clarke started Collination, a non-profit organization that will provide exercise programs for people with special needs. The bodybuilder will also present at the National Down Syndrome Congress Conference in Orlando, Florida in July.
He is continuing to train for the 2016 Kentucky Muscle in November.
Watch Clarke’s entire story—and see his amazing before and after photos—in the video.