For 28-year-old transgender man Parker, this is the vision of masculinity he had wanted to embody from the moment he began transitioning four years ago – a man who is strong, lean and full of confidence.
Having a great physique like his inspiration Laithe Ashley was the final but elusive piece of the puzzle for Parker to create that masculine identity and feel like he belonged among his male peers.
But he felt ‘skinny fat’ and struggled to achieve the body shape he wanted training on his own.
Successive gym memberships and PTs elsewhere failed to deliver the results he craved, leaving him completely demotivated.
Starting a body transformation program at Ultimate Performance changed everything for Parker.
Over 12 weeks, he lost 20lbs(9kg), cut down to a super-lean body 7% body fat and built a truly astonishing physique.
Not just that, but his energy levels are through the roof, he is happier and more confident in his own skin, and now feels like the man he always wanted to be.
“For me, the health and the physique were part of the puzzle that makes up the whole ‘who Parker is’.
“I just wanted to have that confident presence that you see with a guy that’s in great shape – that he’s confident and he has his life together.
“I feel like I’m one of those guys now. This transformation has given me access to the person I’ve always seen myself as.”
He hopes that his transformation and story will inspire others in the trans community just what is possible to achieve.
Here Parker talks about the transformative journey he has been on, inside and outside of the gym – overcoming bigotry, relationship break-ups and family problems to complete his transformation and live life the way he always wanted…
After the 12 weeks here at U.P., and how I’m feeling after this transformation, is a lot more confident.
From where I’m at now, compared to when I first walked in the doors, I would say the difference is unreal. Honestly, it’s night and day.
I looked at a picture of myself the other day and I was actually smiling and I thought to myself ‘Wow! I look awesome!’
Before, when I smiled, all I could see was chubby cheeks. Now it’s just like ‘oh wow! There’s a good-looking guy under there! That’s awesome!’
Finding my confidence has been my biggest thing. Or re-finding it, I guess.
In the beginning, I was kind of doing it because I had this crush on a girl and I wanted her to notice me.
Halfway through I thought ‘screw that! I’m doing it for myself!’
Honestly, that’s when I really turned up the heat because that was way more motivating for me. Just doing it for myself versus someone else.
Honestly, like really learning to take care and love myself.
I feel like me finding the motivation to do Ultimate Performance for myself, it really shifted things.
I know myself really well, but I think I’m actually starting to love myself.
I am transgender and identify as trans-masculine, non-binary. It’s been a crazy journey, honestly.
I’m 28 now and I started transitioning when I was 24.
For any of my queer, female folks out there, it’s basically like going from Shane from ‘The L Word’ to Larry from ‘Orange is the New Black’.
That has literally been my experience. It was tough.
A big part of it was wanting to build up this man to feel like I belong and that no-one could question me.
I wanted to build up myself, from a physical aspect, to not have to deal with my fellow peer men judging me or questioning me. Like, ‘do you belong in this space?’ But I think that now I really pass.
I love the way I look and I love being me. I’m just a regular blue-collar dude. I just like to drink beer and hang out with my buddies at the beach.
I feel like who I am now and the way I present is a good representation of myself.
There were always inclinations growing up. The first time I really knew was when I was like three or four.
It was just not understanding why it wasn’t alright for me to run around without my shirt on and do all the stuff my little brother was doing.
That was a very shocking and upsetting thing for me when I was super young to find out there were certain things I wanted to do but couldn’t do because of my assigned gender. I found that almost abrasive.
Then around 13, I definitely vocalised it to my parents because puberty was on-setting and I was like ‘what the f**k! I don’t want to do this. I want my body to be a straight stick. Why am I getting hips?’
All that stuff was very uncomfortable.
It was a super-hard time for me. I was really depressed.
When I was like seven or eight I would pray to wake up with some equipment down there, literally like praying to God to give me a gender reassignment. I was probably really low on his priority list though.
I definitely felt that my whole life.
From the age of 16 to 23, those were definitely fun years, but something was missing.
Then around the age of 23 or 24, a lot of folks I was following on Instagram were sharing their journey of being in transition and I just felt like, that’s me. That’s what I want to do.
I’ve always seen myself as more masculine, so I was like I want to present as more masculine too.
I still feel like I’m on the spectrum of gender, in terms of my mentality and my perspective and beliefs. But to the outside world, I very much present as a straight, masculine dude.
Being in that more androgynous stage, where you’re not passing but you’re starting to get a bit more facial hair, and your voice is starting to deepen a little bit. I was still living in Texas at the time.
I was surrounded by a lot of folks who loved and cared for me and gave me a lot of support, but there were definitely some folks, like this guy I worked with, who would come up to me and say things like ‘oh you’re not a real man’.
My friends always had my back, but that’s definitely been a challenge.
I think there’s always going to be that white bigot dude in the background for anybody that’s going through anything.
One thing I wasn’t expecting was that the girl I was dating at the time when I transitioned told me that she didn’t want to be with a guy. She was only interested in dating girls.
She was there for me throughout my top surgery and took care of me. After that, she pretty much broke up with me and that was pretty hard and unexpected.
I thought we were going to get married. I’ve pretty much been single since then.
There’s a lot of questioning of yourself. I feel like I got a lot of attention from girls when I was female-presenting, and I feel like I don’t get that anymore.
Me and my dad’s relationship is totally messed up.
He said things like ‘I feel like you stole my daughter from me.’ and ‘there’s a hole in my heart.’
We haven’t been able to come back from that.
My mom has actually been really cool. She comes from a very…her mom and dad came over here from Ukraine and were orthodox Catholic and very strict.
But she’s actually come around. I feel like we’ve gotten closer. I feel like she knows that I sometimes struggle.
I will isolate myself sometimes and I will choose not to be around people because it’s honestly easier than dealing with rejection or anything really.
There’s definitely been a lot I have given up to just live how I want to live.
I knew I needed to have a physique that was in the top 10% of folks.
I knew a little bit, but not enough to get me there.
I was just feeling really demotivated and really uninspired.
When I first came to U.P., I was not in good shape.
I would say that I was carrying a bit of the muffin top. I thought I was in good shape.
But after that first or second week, you just realise that you’re not.
I was kind of skinny fat, but all of my fat was in my face and in my hips and my lower stomach. So basically I just looked like a really jolly pear, but not that fat.
It felt awesome just getting dressed for work in the morning and feeling your clothes a little bit looser and your stomach a little bit ti ghter.
You feel better about the day. You don’t feel as much like that general malaise that can set in your late 20s and early 30s from being so sedentary.
You feel good about yourself but also you feel like your kind of exceeding your peers.
Working out with the trainers here at Ultimate Performance has definitely boosted my energy level.
It’s honestly been amazing, everything from my attitude to my energy levels has improved.
I have energy when I wake up in the morning.
I’ve been waking up at 5:45 am every morning, whereas before I would always struggle to get up.
There’s definitely that spring in your step.
We only have so much time on this earth and it’s like wherever you’re at or however old you are, and whatever kind of shape you’re in, if you put in the effort, no matter what, you’re going to look better, but you’re 100% going to feel better after you put in that effort.
I think everyone should make that investment in themselves.
Why go through life always being tired? You want to go through life light on your feet and pep in your step. The energy is huge.
I think it’s so effective because you know your trainer is the best of the best and he’s literally putting into you the most recent and up-to-date exercises and routines.
When you’re trying to do it alone or you’re with some guy that’s a trainer, it can be very demotivating knowing you’re going through all this physical pain to not actually see results.
So, for me, it was super-motivating to know that at Ultimate Performance they continually train their trainers on all of the most recent technology and knowledge at the forefront of fitness. That’s super powerful.
‘If you literally do what I say and eat what I say, you’re going to look awesome’ – I think that’s huge.
I did a lot of weight training before, but it wasn’t consistent. There was no routine. It was just whatever I found on the internet.
It’s tough to do it on your own if you don’t know what you’re doing.
I trained a little bit before I had surgery. But not with a trainer and there was a lot of BS cardio.
I was a cardio bunny.
My trainer was like the best in the world, ever.
What I loved about my trainer was that he was expertly matched up to my personality.
He was very steady and not one of those guys screaming in your face ‘come on! You need to get one more!’
I wouldn’t respond to that.
But he knew when to push me and when to say ‘let’s go!’
It’s that outside-of-the-gym stuff that he doesn’t have to do, but he does do. It’s super motivating. There wouldn’t be a day that went by when I didn’t fill out my progress tracker. I didn’t want to let him down.
I’m like 7.5% body fat, which is cool because when I started I was around 14%.
When I started at U.P., I was at 159lbs (72kg) and now I’m at 140lbs (63kg). I’ve lost 20lbs (9kg).
Not only that, I’m a lot more symmetrical and just strong now.
I think what I’m most proud of is I have a good career and I make decent money and all that stuff, but most people in their 20s aren’t really going to invest in themselves in this way.
But for me, I feel I made little sacrifices along the way to make this happen.
I wanted the best of the best when it comes to my appearance. You’re only young once.
I’m only going to be in my 20s for so long, and I’m really most proud of the fact I actually chose to invest in myself versus going out and just spending that money on who knows what or blowing it.
I could have spent the money I spent here going to Cabo or going on a cruise, but I’d still be where I am and I wouldn’t have made any personal progress or a change.
Now there’s no denying that I have made a change.
I’m really proud of myself for making that decision to invest in myself, and never giving up.
I feel like I can count on two fingers the sessions where I didn’t give it 100% and I’m proud of myself that I’ve always just tried really hard in the gym.
I’ve definitely puked like six times since I’ve been here, so I definitely think I go hard.
The reaction of my friends and colleagues at work, they’re like ‘oh my god! You must work out every single day!’ They’re just really blown away.
I posted a picture on Instagram and they’re like ‘dude! You look like a statue! You look like a Greek god!’
At work, people are asking me where I’m working out, and trying to sign up!
People want in on it, obviously!
I wanted a motorcycle for so long. Growing up, my dad rebuilt Harleys. He always had a Harley.
It was just something I’d always, always wanted and just part of the person I saw myself as.
A huge part of why I trained here was I wanted to be able to, if my bike ever got sat down, to pick it up, or be able to actually handle it and not be intimidated by the bike.
So, the first time riding it was just amazing. That first time I thought ‘Woah it goes so fast!’ and now I don’t really feel like that anymore. I’m already looking for a bigger engine.
I think Laithe is pretty much a hero to all trans guys. He breaks boundaries.
The huge thing is, he’s very inspiring because us fellow trans guys are all really proud of anyone that can not only achieve the physique that he has, but it makes us feel like we can do it too.
It also makes us really proud to see, especially a trans guy of colour achieve what he has. And for so many men thinking ‘oh my gosh, this guy looks amazing. I wish I was as in shape as him!’
I love Laithe. He just shuts up the haters.
I hope my transformation can inspire others the way that someone like Laithe has inspired me.
For me, the biggest thing is going back to that whole energy thing and feeling better about yourself.
It’s not about how you look. There were times when I compared myself to Laithe and I felt demotivated on my journey.
So, I hope that seeing me makes you think like ‘I can do this too’. But I never want you to feel like you have to compare where you’re at today to where I’m at.
It’s not just what you see in front of you. There’s a lot of hard work and hard times and sad times, and tough times, and mad times that I went through to get here.
I hope that if I were to inspire someone, it would inspire them to know that the change they want to see is possible, but also inspire them to love themselves where they’re at today.
I wouldn’t want anyone to feel bad in comparison to me. That’s not what the trans community should be about.
I know the trans community pretty well in terms of female and male, and I know physique is a pretty big deal for most of them.
They all have physique goals. I hope that if I were to inspire someone they would look at me and feel like ‘what I want is possible.’
Training here has definitely helped me become more confident in my own skin, 100%.
My advice to other trans guys who are really struggling to get in shape or not feeling confident is to find a gym that can be your community. Not just a gym like Gold’s or LA Fitness where you work out alone and you compare yourself silently to other guys.
Find a trainer that is going to be able to work out with you three times a week, give you good feedback, and program your macros.
Pretty much all trans guys are body dysphoric, so I would say find someone and do your research.
It took me seven or eight months to find Ultimate Performance after six or seven failed different gym memberships, Orangetheory, CrossFit, High Intensity – quote-unquote ‘expert trainers’.
It took me a while to find what I was looking for. Don’t settle, and definitely have someone that’s an expert that knows what they’re talking about, just in the same way as you’d go to your endocrinologist with regards to your hormones. You really should have someone who is an expert in terms of your physique and your physical goals.
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DISCLAIMER | Results may vary | Results are based on individual circumstances | Timeframes for results are not guaranteed | Willpower is always required!