Trail native Burhan Pourmokhtari’s dedication and discipline have vaulted him into the elite echelons of Canadian men’s bodybuilding.
Burhan won first place in the light-heavyweight division at the Canadian Bodybuilding Federation (CBBF) National championship at Laval University in Montreal last week. As an added bonus, he was also awarded his Elite Pro Card from the International Bodybuilding Federation (IBBF), and for Pourmokhtari, winning gold was big, but earning his Pro card even bigger.
“It’s everything I ever wanted,” the 27-year-old athlete said from his home in Calgary. “Now I’m a professional, which is really cool, I’m a professional body builder, so now I get to compete at professional shows, with other high-level professionals that have been in the game forever. I get to compete against the best-of-the-best from around the world, which is really exciting.”
Pourmokhtari won the Alberta Bodybuilding Championship in Edmonton in June 2018, and knew he had to step up his game in order to take it to the national level. He skipped the national competition in Aug. 2018, and spent the year preparing for the 2019 CBBF National championship.
“Since I won Mr. Alberta, I’m eligible every year for the rest of my life, so we chose to skip the first one and focus solely on next year to recover and focus on building for next year. We identified a lot of holes in my game, so we wanted to fill those holes so we could compete at a higher level than that.”
The path to the top of the national podium was not without its share of bumps. A natural athlete, Burhan grew up in Trail playing minor hockey and soccer, and went on to play for the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and then with Selkirk College. But the compete level in hockey lost its lustre, and he became more interested in personal fitness.
Burhan entered his first bodybuilding competition in Kelowna and came fifth out of 25 entrants. He was encouraged, and also drawn to the performance, where aggression and power mingled with grace to mark the best of competition.
He entered provincials, where he placed fourth, yet, just missing the top three made him take a closer look at his training regimen.
Body building is judged based on size, symmetry, proportion, and conditioning, but presentation also plays a significant role.
“It’s the coolest part,” said Burhan. “You have to work the angles, and see which poses work for you. Some work better for some people, but you have to find your style – it’s the best part … you want to exemplify power and beauty.”
In March 2015, he entered the Leigh Brandt Muscle Classic in the light-heavyweight category in Kelowna and won.
“I decided I wasn’t happy with the top-three. If I’m going to do all this work, than I should only settle for number-1.”
He completed a degree in Kinesiology at UBC-Okanagan, and went on to study nuclear medicine at SAIT in Calgary. Despite juggling his studies and training, while completing a full-time practicum at a Calgary hospital, Burhan’s dedication to his craft earned him a national title and his pro card.
“Whenever you get into competition, you feel like you’ve perfected everything, filled every crevasse, and then afterward, you’re never happy with it. You have to be proud of how far you’ve come and you’re headed in the right direction, which is good, but never satisfied.”
Pourmokhtari’s rise into the professional domain, will demand even more commitment when he competes alongside the best in the world. Yet, discipline and the intense workload required to achieve those lofty aspirations are the easy bits for Burhan.
“My coach is going to throw everything at me this year, he’s going to really destroy me. But once you get into that groove and that momentum, and your sights set on that target, it’s actually not so difficult. The hardest part is just waiting for it to come.”
This coming year, with his practicum complete, his schedule will afford Pourmokhtari more time to commit to his work in the gym. He is not, however, going to rush into an event like the upcoming World Championship for the sake of competing. Burhan intends to be prepared and has his sights set firmly on the professional body builders Mecca, the Arnold Classic 2020, in Barcelona, Spain next September.
“I really just want to see how far I can go, realize my full potential and just give everything I’ve got. I pour my heart and soul into this, and there’s no better feeling than planning something out, executing a plan to a tee, not skipping a single rep set, a meal or even a workout. To give every ounce you have and be rewarded at the very end – it’s surreal.”