Michael Brooks Photography - March 2020


Around the age of 10 or 11, before ever touching a weight or stepping foot in a gym, I was completely obsessed with Bodybuilding.
     By the time I was 12 or 13 I began reading Bodybuilding books and magazines like a madman! I wanted to absorb as much information as I could about the sport that I loved. I KNEW I would compete one day. Around this time my parents bought me one of those old school led-filled weight sets and I was off and running!
Old school weights from the 80's
     Of course the magazines that I was reading were filled with steroid-induced overblown physiques, both male and female. At the time I had no idea what steroids were and thought that these athletes just trained hard, ate the right foods, lived a healthy lifestyle and had great genetics. I would read these magazines cover to cover, consuming virtually every word and every image. I would read the letters from the editors, the advertisements, the classified ads, everything. I loved these publications and became a MASSIVE fan of the athletes. 
     As I grew into my teens I would learn about the steroid use and abuse by these athletes. In fact, many of my heroes in the sport were actually passing away as a result of their use of Performance Enhancing Drugs (P.E.D.’s). Although my consumption of this material did not slow down, this revelation did put a dark cloud over my fandom.
     In high school I was a talented football player, and an even better wrestler. Although a two sport athlete, I did not have a “Bodybuilder’s Physique.” Meaning my physique was not overly muscular, balanced or proportionate. In fact, I suffered from what I would refer to as, “Too much A, not enough T.” Meaning I had a genetically large butt, and no chest! haha Seems funny now, but this haunted my youth. My girlfriend would call me, “Bubble Butt.” Nice.
     In my early twenties I began to take my training more seriously AND began to focus on bringing balance to my physique. In my late twenties I began thinking about the idea of living a long, healthy, fit, happy life, and what it would take to achieve this.

Some of the publications I consumed in the early days.


     Still reading Bodybuilding magazines I began to feel internal conflict. Yes, I was a massive fan of the sport and literally dozens of athletes. But I was wholeheartedly against steroid and P.E.D. use.
     So I decided to ween myself off these drug-induced athletes and publications. Although all that I had been consuming over the past 20 years was certainly entertaining and I learned so much, I knew that those physiques and that lifestyle was not sustainable long-term. And I wanted to learn about longevity. I wanted to learn about athletes who were living drug-free, natural, healthy lifestyles…while competing in physique sports. So what was I to do? There were virtually no publications celebrating drug-tested, drug-free physique athletes.


     Still in my late 20’s (around 2002) I decided to compete. I was actually going to enter a non-tested organization. I was going to compete naturally against non-natural athletes. Even though I had never and would never use any performance-enhancing drugs, this was the only option at the time…so I thought. 
     For me, it was just a life-long goal of mine to compete. I would soon discover that there were organizations that existed that tested for drugs…or at least claimed to do so. I remember the day that I discovered this on the internet. It was one of the most monumental moments for me. I was like, “NO WAY! THIS EXISTS???!!!” And the organization I decided to compete with actually had a magazine! So I was like, “Wow! I found it!”
     During this time I was working in Corporate America in New York City, while Bodybuilding as a hobby and a lifestyle. I would begin my journey to the stage, which would take three years. I set off on this path with no coach or trainer. Honestly, if I had one I am sure I would have made it to the stage in well under a year!

Left: September 2003 – Right: July 2004 (getting closer)


     I would eventually hit the stage in 2005, placing 8th out of 10 guys in Bodybuilding. Although I got crushed, I fell completely in love with the process. And no more Bubble Butt!!! I knew that I would be involved, in some way or another, in this industry for the rest of my life. 
     My second show later that year would be my most successful to date. After being told at my first show that I had a good look, but just needed to come in leaner, I was hell-bent on coming in diced. At my second show I won 1st place in Heavyweight Bodybuilding and took the Overall Bodybuilding title. I had done it! I was a Bodybuilding Champion!
October 2005
     I would continue competing over the next few years, with varying degrees of success in terms of placements. That being said, although the placings certainly mattered to me, what I was really after was a sense of personal fulfilment. I wanted to be healthy, challenge myself and continue to develop my physique. Each contest prep for me was a like a spiritual journey. Sacrifice, focus, determination. Learning who I was and what I was capable of.

Competitions: 2006-2007

     After one of my contests in 2006 I had my first professional photo shoot with Michael Brooks. I recall the excitement of doing this for the first time. I was in great shape and pumped to have professional photos of myself! Of course Michael Brooks would join the IPL as the official Director of Photography almost a decade later! He would hold this role from 2015-2022.

Michael Brooks Photography: 2006

     My life had been so utterly transformed in such a positive way throughout my journey that I decided to take a huge leap of faith. In 2010 I would leave Corporate America to become a Personal Trainer and Prep Coach. The thought of guiding people to the happiness and fulfilment that I had experienced was an idea that consumed me. So my fitness career began. 


     In 2010 I launched an LLC and called it MiBoLife. Which stands for Mind. Body. Life. I began taking on clients and considered myself a Transformation Artist. Most of my clients where not athletes or physique competitors. What made me the most excited was when a potential client would come to me, mainly women, and show me a magazine image of a physique or athlete that they admired. Basically their “dream look.” They would tell me that this is what they wanted to look like, but they knew that they never could. You know what I would say? Yes you can. And yes we will. And off we would go. Although for many the goal was to compete, I would coach and teach my clients about nutrition and lifestyle, things that would last far beyond the stage.

Some MiBoLife Transformation Highlights (8 to 16 week transformations)

     As my team (Team MiBoLife) grew, we would achieve Pro Cards and various high-level placements at competitions. Throughout my five year career as a prep coach I only had one client place outside of the top five.
     I also began prepping pageant contestants (primarily for the Miss America Organization). These contestants needed to have competitive physiques at their pageants, specifically for the Evening Gown and Swimsuit rounds. My most successful pageant client was Claire Buffie who won the March 2010 Miss Southeast New York title at the Miss Manhattan Pageant, qualifying her to compete for the coveted Miss New York title.
     We would go on to WIN Miss New York, qualifying Claire to compete at Miss America 2011. I would then prep her for Miss America 2011, where she made it all the way to top 12.
Claire Buffie Miss New York 2010 (Miss America Organization).

Claire Buffie Highlights.

     But most importantly I would be able to deliver a life-changing experience for my clients. I was absolutely in love with my job. Although very much involved in the sport, I did not compete again since launching the company. But never say never 🙂 

Some Backstage Highlights


     After three decades of deep interest in the sport and over ten years of direct involvement (competing and coaching) I still yearned for more information about true, natural, drug-tested athletes. Specifically in the context of a well-put-together magazine publication. Why were we not seeing “natural” athletes celebrated? Why were none of these athletes on the covers of magazines or being written about? There simply was a lack of this material in the marketplace. So, I decided to create my own magazine. In February 2013 my first magazine was launched, NATURALMAG
First issue of NATURALMAG featuring my client Lisa on the cover. February 2013.
     I remember the day I got the idea. I was training my client Lisa, doing leg curls. She was just looking SICK! I said to her, “Damn, you look awesome! You should be on the cover of a magazine!” A lightbulb went off in my head. Over the next two years I would create two more magazine titles. Next came Natural GAINZ, then Natural Bikini
     In these early days I would actually do most of the photography for the magazines myself. I would eventually begin working with several photographers. Then settled for one, exclusively. Michael Brooks Photography.

First issue of Natural GAINZ (January 2014) & first issue of Natural Bikini (March 2014).


     In 2015 I came up with the idea for creating a league. I thought, what if there was an awesome league that was all natural and drug-tested that actually had several magazine publications, funneling athletes from the stage and photo shoots into the pages and onto the front covers? Showing the world what true natural, drug-tested physiques, lifestyles, publicity and media was like?
     What if we could have media and publication outlets to REALLY showcase natural athletes, coaches & trainers and help them make a name in the industry for themselves and grow their brands and businesses? How awesome would that be? So the International Physique League (IPL) was born. The first IPL contest was hosted in August of 2015 in Jersey City, NJ. Since then the IPL has held over 150 contests all across the country, including international events.


With all the amazing natural athletes that hit IPL stages, it was hard to cover everything. So, over the years I have created three more publications: VIGOROUS Magazine (2016)  SEAM Magazine (2018) & ATHLETIC Magazine (2021).

First issue of VIGOROUS (January 2016), SEAM (Fall 2018) & ATHLETIC (January 2021).


     In late 2021 we created a new logo and launched a new, updated, sexy website. I hope you guys are enjoying the work that we are putting in! Believe me, the effort has been intense!


     Some super cool things went  down in 2022. We began video commentating some of our shows! This is something I have always wanted to do! Check out our YouTube channel to view videos. 
     In addition to beginning my own personal transformation journey, “BACK TO TOP FORM & BEYOND!”, I began coaching again! Feels so good to be back! I now coach for lifestyle as well as athletes for physique competition. With nutrition and/or training.
     Also in 2022 I reconnected with my passion for photography! And I am now booking photo shoots and doing all of the IPL’s stage photography. I am super excited for this! Whether you are competing at an upcoming IPL contest or just want some amazing professional photos taken you can book with me here! Or DM me on Facebook.


     We are sooooo Incredibly excited to make this announcement! We have created a new magazine publication!
     ***INSPIRE!*** Find Your Fire! Health, Fitness & Lifestyle Transformations. This is the seventh magazine from MiBoLife Publishing & the International Physique League!
     Inspire is dedicated to highlighting individuals who have overcome life changes such as disease, illness, cancer, trauma, and many other health disorders as well as major weight loss.
     Inspire’s mission is to share these success stories and offer inspiration as to what is possible when you never give up. This publication is a true celebration of personal journey to a more healthy, active lifestyle.
     Inspire will also feature weight loss, nutrition and exercise tips, as well as tips for all around health & wellness. The first issue released in November! Thank you to everyone who helped make this new publication come to life!
     I want to give a very special shout-out and thank you to everyone who has taken part in making the IPL what it is today. The athletes, families, friends, fans and the staff at our events! And to everyone who works behind the scenes and on the magazines, writers and contributors.
     I look forward to the rest of the 2022 season and beyond and I am committed to delivering more and more excitement in true, natural, drug-tested physique competition!


2023! Wow! What can I say? Where do I begin!? It’s safe to say that the 2023 season brought more incredible additions and projects to the league than any year prior.
First, leading into the year, I made a massive commitment and let the community know that we were leaning extremely hard into video in 2023.
We started the year with a redesign of our YouTube channel.
“The Real IPL”
Next came “The Real IPL”. The league’s new reality series which premiered on Friday May 19th, 2023. The series follows IPL Athletes and highlights the IPL community around the country. It is a fun, entertaining, inside look at what it’s like to be a fitness athlete, living the drug-free, healthy, active lifestyle…with some occasional drama.
As I am writing this in mid-December 2023, we are already 14 episodes in!
Athlete Promo Videos
This year we also began filming athlete promotional videos to highlight and celebrate our athletes. These videos are a wonderful addition to league, adding more entertainment and excitement to the community.
Next, we created IPL PRESS PASS. We are now hosting live-streamed pre & post show press conferences with the Pros during contest weekends.
Video Tutorials
And finally, regarding video, we have begun creating a IPL Video Tutorial Series. We have always offered guidelines and photo images helping to clarify posing and what the league is looking for in each IPL division. But the new video tutorials are a game changer, something we thought was needed, and would add so much value to our athletes.
New Magazine Cover Designs
Towards the end of the year we began redesigning the cover layouts  for each of our magazine publications. Making them more fun, exciting and giving them more “pop”. We hope you like the new looks!
New Contest Promoters
2023 also welcomed new contest promoters and new states. Maryland and Florida. Congratulations to our new promoters for hosting successful events! We look forward to returning to Florida and Maryland in 2024! And now we have added three more promoters! With new contest events in Virginia, California and Alaska! And a couple more states are in the works! 2024 is set to be an incredible year of IPL competition!
I hope I’m not missing anything!
All the athletes, coaches, teams, staff, friends, and families! Thank YOU! NONE OF THIS would be possible without YOU!
Happy Holidays and see you in 2024!

Share this post: