My name is Chris Cirillo and I am the owner of Kodiak Bodybuilding Apparel.
In 1998 I was a 13 year old kid with a mullet. I came from a working class family and lived 40 minutes south of Pittsburgh. I was fat, unathletic, and wanted to be like my heroes I saw on every Monday night on WCW Monday Nitro and WWF Monday Night Raw. So of course my brother and I did what every other kid was doing in the late 90's and started a backyard wrestling federation with the neighborhood kids.
Ten years later, I enrolled in the NWA East pro wrestling academy. It was during this time I also attended my first bodybuilding show. After 9 months of training at the wrestling academy, I dropped out. I discovered that I enjoyed spending time in the weight room more than I enjoyed spending time in the ring taking bumps. I had found a new passion in bodybuilding.
how hard I could push myself.
The hard work,
and the results it produced.
I developed a true love for training.
I never liked team sports. I never understood how people could get behind a team as a fan- or the appeal of being on one as an athlete. In bodybuilding there was no team. It was solely up to the individual as a competitor to outwork his competition in order to make something of himself. The individual knew when he gave his all and knew when he did not. Accountability in it's purest form.
Through magazines like Muscular Development and Flex, I learned about top pros such as Jay Cutler, Branch Warren, and Dorian Yates. I admired these men not just for their awesome physiques, but for their relentless work ethic, their ability to demand more from themselves when others would crumble, and their undying devotion to their passion.
I attended the Mr. Pittsburgh competition every year and other local shows as well. As much as I liked the pros, I had just as much respect for the local level competitors. I spent years paying my dues in the gym as I dreamed of stepping on stage before finally doing so.
The true bodybuilder is an outsider to society. The average person does not understand us. They do not understand why we sacrifice what we do; certain foods, social gatherings, sometimes even relationships. They do not understand the things that we put ourselves through; the mass amounts of food, many times force feeding ourselves. The grueling training, often pushing ourselves until we vomit. The dark side of what we do that we do not talk about with others.
As an homage to old school bodybuilding and the work ethic that goes with it, I founded Kodiak Bodybuilding Apparel in the fall of 2017. But it was in the summer of 1998 that the first ever Kodiak shirt was created by a 13 year old kid with a mullet. The shirt was a black tank top purchased from the dollar store. I hand sewed a piece of another shirt on it and wrote "Kodiak" on it using black and red sharpies. Today the name takes on an entirely different meaning.
We as bodybuilders train hard for the sake of training hard. We do it because we love it. We compete to be champions. We don't do it for attention or validation. We enjoy testing our mental toughness and taking our physiques to the absolute limit. Not everyone can do this.
Either it's in your blood or it's not. The hard work, the dream, the passion. You can't fake it.
This is what bodybuilding has taught me.