Getting healthy earns Valley resident state championship |

Getting healthy earns Valley resident state championship

by Caryn Haller
Rick Ackerson poses with his Master's State Champion trophy Thursday in Gardnerville.
Brad Coman |

Rick Ackerson never considered himself a buff guy.

That is until he won first place in the masters physique category at the NPC Nevada State Championships in Reno on June 13.

“I couldn’t believe it,” the 46-year-old said of his win. “I’ve never considered myself as buff. It’s not like you’re the only guy there who looks good.”

According to the competition’s website, the physique category is judged on muscularity and body condition.

Judges look for fit contestants who display proper shape and symmetry combined with muscularity and overall condition. It is not a bodybuilding contest so extreme muscularity is marked down. Contestants are also judged on stage presence and personality.

“It’s more about the beach body look,” Ackerson said. “You have to do front, back and quarter turns, and you’re wearing board shorts.”

As a professional firefighter, Ackerson is required to pass a physical exam each year. After a friend encouraged him to start competing, he took the challenge more serious.

“I set a personal goal to change my eating and workout to get healthier,” he said. “It makes you feel good. I never considered myself unhealthy, but I was never fit.”

Ackerson came in fifth in his first physique competition in August 2014 at Lake Tahoe.

“After that first show my cholesterol dropped 70 points,” he said of how his training has benefitted his health “It’s a lifestyle now.”

Competing against a dozen other physique athletes in Reno wasn’t easy, Ackerson said.

“It was nerve-wracking getting on stage with the bright lights,” he added.

Ackerson grew up in Smith Valley, and moved to Carson Valley in 2004 to be a professional firefighter.

He is also the founder of No Place Like Home, a senior care agency.

“I have a great management team here,” he said. “I couldn’t compete without them. People have been pretty supportive.”

Ackerson said he doesn’t plan to stop competing, entering the masters nationals later this month in Pennsylvania.

“It gives me some accountability of not cheating and having a bunch of beer and pizza,” he said. “If I’m not prepping for a show, I do have cheat meals.”

Ackerson is also studying to be a health and wellness coach after he retires from firefighting.

“It’s in my blood to help people,” he said. “I’ve been helping people as a firefighter/paramedic, and helping seniors, and I want to continue on in my retirement.”