As Vincent Grossrieder stepped off the stage, he knew his life had changed forever. The 16-year-old from Woodinville couldn’t stop smiling. The event was the Washington State Open Bodybuilding Championship. He’d finished first in the Junior Men’s Physique Division and second in Men’s True Novice Physique Division.
“I felt a big change come over me,” he said.
Actually, the event was called the NPC WA State Open Bodybuilding Figure Fitness Bikini Physique Championship. (Trying saying that ten times). But whatever its name, that event was the rallying point for a young man to overcame depression.
Grossrieder had tended toward depression for years. However, he wasn’t consciously aware of it at the time. As of last November, he was just doing his thing: Going to school, dating a girl and preparing to wrestle as a freshman for the Woodinville Falcons.
But right before the season, he hit critical mass – and his world turned gray. Within the span of two weeks, his girlfriend broke up with him and he tore a ligament in his thumb. He would miss the entire wrestling season while wondering why the girl didn’t find hm worthy.
“Things grew very dark,” Grossrieder said. “It felt like I lost everything I cared about in an instant. I did not have a purpose in life, and I did not want to go on. I had thoughts of suicide a few times. That’s when I decided to get help so it wouldn’t get worse.”
He talked to his mom, who then made an appointment with a doctor. Once they diagnosed him with depression and anxiety, they recommended Grossrieder to a therapist.
The therapist helped him deal with dark moments. She challenged him to find a purpose, and something to which he could dedicate himself.
“It was my intention to stay away from pills as much as I could,” Grossrieder said. “I ended up not having to be prescribed any. It was hard but I got through it.”
Doctors cleared him in January 2018 to resume physical activity. He began lifting weights with the idea of getting stronger for wrestling.
But a funny thing happened: He found he liked going to the gym. He saw physical changes happening to himself, especially amid his chest. He began asking everyone about workouts. He researched online. He watched Arnold Schwarzenegger videos on YouTube.
“I pieced together a routine,” he said. “I looked at myself in the mirror and thought I could compete in a few months!”
He learned about the bodybuilding championships in August. He made that his goal.
Now it was no hobby. This obsession burned bright. His home gym was Gold’s Gym in Kirkland. He found that a surprising number of people there had competed in bodybuilding. He sought them out for info. Asked tons of questions. “I made a lot of new friends at that gym that helped me get out of that dark period,” Grossrieder said.
In six weeks, he’d gone from 5’8” and 140 pounds, to 155 pounds.
“I began working with Max Dominate from LA Fitness in West Seattle,” he said. “He gave me a workout plan and dietary plan. He helped out on posing... He’s a very energetic person, always pushing me to be my best.”
Finally, August 4th arrived. Grossrieder felt nervous. He thought he’d fail, thought he was too small. He started freaking out. His trainer sent him a YouTube video of when he had started out in bodybuilding. “Max was a bit smaller than his competitors,” Grossrieder said. “And he still won. He told me it’s all about having confidence in yourself, and going out there on the stage and having fun and showing them what you’ve got.”
Grossrieder envisioned his competitors to be huge monsters, super shredded and hulking. But he found that they looked more or less just like him.
He took to the stage and did his routines. He finished first in Junior Men’s Physique and second in Men’s True Novice Physique.
He exited the stage feeling transformed.
“It changed me as a person,” he said. “It changed me physically and mentally. I am curious to see how it impacts me in wrestling next season.”
He felt grateful to a long list of people. These included his parents, trainers, coaches and friends at Gold’s Gym. But he also wanted to acknowledge the Woodinville wrestling program and its coaches, including head coach Tod Christensen.
“One thing Coach Christensen says is that being in wrestling changes you,” Grossrieder said. “You push past your limits and break down barriers. I have to say that there were many, many times in the past few months that I wanted to give up and not go forward. But what I learned in wrestling gave me the ability to push through.”
Vinny Grossrieder now knows that his days of depression are in the rear view mirror. “Gold’s Gym became a second home to me, it was like a second family,” he said. “It definitely helped me to overcome the anxiety and depression and get to the point where I was successful. I’m excited to see how it will impact my life going forward!”