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Fitness competitor's body does the talking—and winning

  • Evan Shy of Chicago recently won a fitness competition and qualified for nationals.
Evan Shy of Chicago recently won a fitness competition and qualified for… (Tony Mitchell / OAMG Media…)
May 13, 2014|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco

With one look in the mirror, your eyes zero in on that body part you want to fix.

Everyone has body issues, even Evan Shy. The owner of ShyTown Fitness has a six-pack, but still wants to improve his abs. His other so-called problem areas? His lower back, lats and legs.

"I'm not even close to achieving the physique that I am aspiring to achieve," said Shy, 28, who lives in Streeterville.

What may seem nitpicky to some is the personal trainer's way of gearing up for bodybuilding competitions.

Last month, he entered the physique division of the Fox Cities Showdown in Oshkosh, Wis., as a sort of practice run. It was his first fitness competition.

It paid off. Shy won first place in his physique division as well as the overall title in Wisconsin, qualifying for the National Physique Committee's Junior National Bodybuilding Championships next month in Rosemont. He is still deciding whether to compete.

"It's more of a fitness model type look," he said of the physique division. "For us, it's not so much about flexing and being the most muscular. It's presenting this confident energy while highlighting certain strong points that you have. I'm not up there doing a double bicep [pose] or anything like that, like a bodybuilder would."

At the Wisconsin competition, he wore board shorts and was evaluated on physical appearance, shape and symmetry.

Competition is in Shy's blood. He played football at Conant High School in Hoffman Estates and his father, Les, played for the Dallas Cowboys and N.Y. Giants.

He had laser focus during his preparation. In between training clients, he worked out, mainly lifting weights at least three hours a day and eating 4,000-5,000 calories daily to encourage muscle development.

He followed a low-carb diet and stayed away from pizza and sweets. No fruit. No dairy. No alcohol. Whatever it took, he said.

He carried a 1-gallon jug of water, mixed with proteins and lemon and cucumber slices. Forget the typical eight-glasses-a-day advice—he downed 2 1/2 gallons a day.

For Shy, there's no traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner. He ate nine meals a day and had a grocery bill of $1,000 a month.

His first meal of six egg whites, a protein shake and one-third cup of oats plus vitamins was at 4:30 a.m. daily. Throughout the day, he consumed 14 ounces of chicken breast, 2 cups of broccoli, 7 ounces of tilapia, 8 ounces of 95 percent lean ground beef, 2 cups of vegetables and more protein shakes. His last daily meal was at 10 p.m. with six more egg whites.

"I have crazy cravings for a variety of things. Right now? Carbohydrates in any form. You give me bread, a sandwich—craving some Jimmy John's right now," Shy said.

But Shy, like other serious competitors, didn't give in.

"Bodybuilders or anyone competing in these types of competitions are incredibly impressive from a dedication standpoint, a discipline standpoint," he said. "It almost takes a monk's-like focus."

What's the goal for Shy?

"Winning and doing the best I possibly can is always a focus," he said. "But winning, not necessarily in the traditional sense, is presenting the best package I possibly can, and more importantly than that and more incrementally is getting better every single day. Fortunately it's easy to measure the physicality of it and see myself continue to change."

His training for the competition fed directly into his fitness business.

It wasn't until he left the construction and development industry a few years ago that he gravitated toward the gym. Once he started working out more, personal trainers recruited him for what he thought would just be a hobby until his next business venture. But he got a good response, grew his clientele and started his own company.

"I truly feel I'm in a situation now where I wake up in the morning, I get to carry on being me, just live my life, and I happen to get paid doing it," Shy said.

lvivanco@tribune.com | @lvivanco

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