First he conquered England, then he lifted the world.
But the title that pumps up muscleman James Fleming the most is that of Preston’s first-ever professional bodybuilder - and all done in super-fast time.
The 36-year-old’s rise from novice to pro took him only 18 months, an astonishing achievement in the highly competitive world of musclemania. And he also did it on a shoestring, working only part-time to fit in the training.
“To gain your pro card in that time is pretty much unknown,” said James at home in Ashton. “And to think I’m the first one in Preston to do it is very special.”
James was admitted to the professional ranks after winning his amateur Mr World title in Belfast last week. But, instead of resting on his laurels, he accepts he will have to raise his game even more to compete against the “big guys” at the very top of the sport.
“When I got back from Belfast it was straight back to the gym,” he said during a breather at the Total Fitness Gym in Preston. “There’s no such things as putting your feet up in this game, even for a day or two. No rest, no nights out for a beer and a curry. None of that stuff. I’ve got a lot of hard work to put in now to get up to the level I need to be at to take on the best.”
Bodybuilding for competition is a punishing regime requiring complete dedication and focus. James admits there were times during his 18-month rise through the ranks that he felt like giving up. But partner Carla Dennehy, herself a nationally-rated bodybuildier, was there to coax him through it.
“Carla is very understanding, but she’s also very good at keeping me focused,” he said. “She has utter belief in me and carried me through when I had a little wobble.
“I’m 36 now and most bodybuilders don’t reach their peak until 38 or 39. So I’ve done it at just the right time.”