By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe
Natural bodybuilding is the passion of Schoolcraft resident Gabriel Hodgson. His hard work and dedication to the sport has earned him national recognition in 2022 and 2023.
Hodgson says he has always been an active child. He is the youngest of three brothers. He played multiple sports and suffered a knee injury in 1995 in the 8th grade playing football.
Hodgson said his family had some basic weight training equipment in the basement when he was younger, but he didn’t know exercises and how to train. During the necessary time off from his injury, he began experimenting with weights and exercises again.
While attending Comstock High School, he and his friends started lifting weights. “I loved lifting. I loved how it felt and I enjoyed doing this with my friends.” Gradually, Hodgson and his friends built interest in the activity and started a powerlifting team, competing in their first state championships in 1998 while they were in 10th grade. After that, they were hooked.
In 11th grade, the team placed in the top 10 in the State Championships. During their senior season they qualified for the National Championships in Neenah, Wisconsin in 2000.
After high school, Hodgson attended Carthage College, where he played a year of college football. He eventually moved back to Michigan, attended Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and ultimately earned his BSBA from Spring Arbor University.
For the last 27 years, he has continued to work out and lift weights. He took time away from competitions to focus on his career path and family responsibilities, but his interest for the sport never left.
Hodgson said when he was interested in competing again in 2020, he was “more mature and was ready to be on stage.” He trained in his pole barn leading up to 2021 when he was back competing, qualifying for the Masters Division nationally.
Hodgson explains the preparation for competitions is very intense and involves strength and definition training, but also a strict dietary regime of protein, natural supplements, and clean foods. “Meal prep takes lots of time,” says Hodgson, “and it’s costly.”
Up until this time, Hodgson had always competed against athletes who were in the IFBB (International Federation of Body Building). Hodgson decided to compete with the INBA (International Natural Bodybuilding Association) in 2022.
In July 2022, Hodgson competed at Natural Nationals in Chicago where he achieved his goals: He won his three divisions and won the overall show. His picture appeared in the December 2022 issue of Iron Man Magazine. He also earned his Pro card, the INBA Golden shield award and was featured on Generation Iron Network.
In July 2023, Hodgson competed at his first PNBA Professional Competition and was the Pro Division Masters Overall winner. Hodgson was featured on Generation Iron Network and will also be in Iron Man Magazine at the end of 2023.
Today, Hodgson isn’t sure what his future in bodybuilding competitions holds. To continue at the professional level is expensive and time consuming, and he has a family.
But through his own success and personal story, he hopes to encourage people to work out, take care of themselves, and to never give up on their dreams.