Erin Banks is poised to repeat as Arnold Traditional Males's Physique Champion

Imagine you are standing on the edge of a bodybuilding stage waiting for the announcer to call your name to exit. You've prepared for this moment for months and practiced hundreds of hours to hear the crowd cheer and applaud you as you strike that first pose in front of the judges.

Erin Banks is different. He doesn't even hear the crowd and he said he developed tunnel vision on race day. Going on stage is a completely different experience for him.

“I hear nobody, I see nobody. Everything is blurry because I'm so focused, because I've prepared so much. From the posing routine to the food, the water cutting, everything else that goes with it. That's my spotlight and I have to concentrate fully and present my body as best as possible."

Per Bernal

Banks didn't just show up on stage, he was dominant in a short amount of time. Banks is the reigning Arnold Classic Men's Physique Champion and won the 2022 Men's Physique Olympia in Las Vegas in December. That makes him the number one men's physique athlete in the world today. He was the first man to win both titles in the same year. w he wants to repeat that feat, beginning with the 2023 Arnold Classic in Columbus, OH on Saturday, March 4th.

With all that success, it's hard to believe that Banks only got into bodybuilding in the last five years. He worked as a personal trainer in 2018 and competing in a bodybuilding show wasn't even on his radar until a former trainer he knew talked him into taking the stage.

"I was just a personal trainer, never thought about bodybuilding," he revealed. "I wasn't a fan of bodybuilding before I started bodybuilding myself. I didn't know anything about it myself. She begged me to try it and I finally did.”

Banks would attend his first show in 2019, the NPC Fresno Classic, which he won. By the end of the year, he earned his pro card at the NPC USA Championships. After skipping the 2020 season, he made his professional debut at the Houston Tournament of Champions, where he finished second. A month later he won the New York Pro and qualified for the Olympia.

At the end of this year's Olympia, he stood side-by-side with champion Brandon Hendrickson, waiting to hear who was declared the winner. It would be Hendrickson that day, but Banks was on the right track and he knew how to take advantage of this new spotlight that shone on him.

"When I got into the sport, I wanted to be a guy like Jay Cutler. He had a huge presence on stage and he still has a huge presence off stage. Jay is a social person and that's a model I'd like to follow."

One Arnold Classic and one Olympic win later, Banks was in the lead, but he didn't have much time to celebrate or celebrate the win. Banks fell ill after the Olympia and immediately had to prepare to defend his Arnold Classic title alongside his trainer Ariel Cutz.

“I was only able to enjoy the moment for about a day and then had to immediately switch back to competitive mode. So it went straight back to the drawing board," he explained, "we're bringing a different package. The goal is to get to the same stage weight but with more muscle density. It's going to be a better overall package from top to bottom.”

Erin Banks trains at the gymwings of strength

Banks will begin his title defense at the Greater Columbus Convention Center where the prelim will take place on the Expo stage. He will then focus on the finals that evening at the Battelle Grand Ballroom in the same building. In a surprising switch between those times, he planned to meet with fans at the Celsius booth during Arnold Expo that day. Make sure he enjoys a can of Watermelon or Arctic Vibes flavored while he's there. If you go to the Arnold, he invites you to grab a can too.

Banks thinks it's important to shake hands and take selfies, even under pressure from the competition, because he wants to meet his supporters and people who look up to him. He enjoys these moments as much as the fans do.

"It's been great so far," Banks said. "I'm a human being. I've been able to meet a lot of people, encourage a lot of people, and I want to give back to my community back home. Also, these fans paid money to see Erin Banks compete or to meet me. It's my opportunity to give back, at least for an hour.”

The Fresno, Calif. native may not have been a part of the sport long, but the former triple athlete is here now and he has no plans to go anywhere for long.

"Right now I'm just in it and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to win both shows in the same year. w I come back with the opportunity to defend that Arnold title and as a reigning Olympic champion it's a blessing again. We are in a good place.”

Follow Erin on Instagram: @e_bankssss and Celsius @celsiusofficial.

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