Body-for-LIFE: the original 10 champions (Where are they now?)

The original 10 Body-for-LIFE champions with Bill Phillips
The original 10 Body-for-LIFE champions with Bill Phillips

I tried to do the Body-for-LIFE challenge when I was eighteen. I lasted about a month before I went back to binging on beer and pizza. Tried it again a couple times in my twenties with the same result. Each time, I stuck with the program for less than a month.

It’s a strict program. If you go to websites that grade diets and health programs, it is usually near the bottom–mainly because it is so demanding that only a fraction of the people who start actually make it the full three months. Well, I recently decided to do the program one last time. If I fuck it up this time, I guess I’ll just resign myself to being a fat POS forever. Wish me luck.

Anyway, for now, at the start of the program, I’m reading Bill Phillips’ book, watching some of the videos he made, even leafing through some of my old issues of Muscle Media. My favorite of these is the video that documented the very first Body-for-LIFE challenge: Body of Work. It takes you into the lives of the 10 winners of that challenge. And their stories are very inspiring. But, as I wander down EAS memory lain, I keep wondering: Where are they now?

Well, I decided to find out.

The original 10 champions were Abb Ansley, Meredith Brown, Porter Freeman, Lynn Lingenfelter, Drew Avery, Everett Herbert, Anthony Ellis, Jeff Seidman, Ralph Zangara and Brad Wadlow.

Where are they now?

Abb Ansley

I had a hard time finding anything on this guy. Looks like he’s a consultant in Denver and still big into healthy living. He’s also still married (sorry, ladies).

Meredith Brown

According to her LinkedIn account, she’s ‘Managing Director’ of something but has the business listed as ‘confidential’. According to a discussion forum comment on the Body-for-LIFE website, nobody, including the other winners, has heard from her since the awards ceremony for the 1997 challenge.

Porter Freeman

Porter, as most folks know, stuck around at EAS longer than the other winners. I remember when I used to buy Muscle Media issues back in the day he had an advice column in there. Like Drew (below), he has his own website which he uses to promote his books (Finally Fit at 50 and A Bite of the Bait Ain’t Worth the Pain of the Hook) and offer his services as an inspirational speaker.

Lynn Lingenfelter

Lynn, unfortunately, isn’t doing so well. According to a 2013 blog post to his wife’s healthy-living website, he was recently diagnosed with a rare and incurable brain disease. This is the guy who won in the “inspirational” category after getting his body and life together after being shot in the back by a friend and recovering from that only to learn that he got HIV from a blood transfusion. Ouch. Lynn lives in Orlando, Florida now. That’s actually not too far from me. Lynn, wanna grab a drink some time, buddy?

Drew Avery

Drew seems to be eking out a living as a fitness consultant of some sort. He has his own website which he uses to hawk various bodybuilding supplements and services. He has definitely at least maintained if not improved his fitness.

Everett Herbert

Everett was over 50 when he completed the challenge in 1997. So, no surprise that he doesn’t have much of an internet presence. As best as I can tell, he’s retired and spends his days riding his Harley and playing with the grandkids (sorry about Facebook stalking you, Ev).

Anthony Ellis

Anthony seems to be doing well. He’s definitely stayed the course with his fitness. He, like several others on this list, has his own website which caters to skinny guys who want to bulk up. However, his website doesn’t look particularly well executed. For example, an annoying pop-up tells you to enter your email address to learn how Mr. Ellis “Packed On Over 300 Pounds Of Muscle in 3 Months”–three hundred? Really? I think you mean 30, dude. Spellcheck, anyone? That said, his website, while shoddy, does provide some useful info (if you can find it amid all the requests for your credit card number).

Jeff Seidman

Jeff seems to be doing quite well for himself (considering he was a valet when he entered the challenge in ’97). He owns HIPERFIT, a Miami Beach gym that is structured around principles very similar to those described in Bill Phillips’ Body-for-LIFE book. Good for you, Jeff.

Ralph Zangara

I found absolutely nothing on this guy. Sorry. He was a cop when he took the challenge. I’m guessing he stayed a cop. I’m surprised by this one. He was very assertive in the Body of Work video. I really thought he, of all the winners, would figure out a way to make a living off of fitness.

Update: In July 2014, a local newspaper published an article on “overpaid” local government employees. In the top 10 was Lt. Ralph S. Zangara of the Buffalo Police Department who had made over $183,000 in FY13. If that’s our Ralph, I’d say he’s done pretty well for himself. Maybe if more cops were compensated like Ralph, police forces could recruit and retain quality professionals and we wouldn’t have so many nuckle-dragging assholes with badges crippling and killing unarmed civilians.

Brad Wadlow

Could’t find much on Brad. He was a personal trainer and had his own website at one time, but it doesn’t exist anymore and he doesn’t seem to have an internet presence at this point.

To sum up

Here’s how I think these 10 Body-for-LIFE champs are fairing in the, shall we say, Continuing Life Challenge:

  • Abb Ansley
    • Fitness: Maintained
    • Personal: Maintained
  • Meredith Brown
    • Fitness: No idea
    • Personal: No ide
  • Porter Freeman
    • Fitness: Better than at the end of the challenge (taking age into consideration)
    • Personal: No idea
  • Lynn Lingenfelter
    • Fitness: Worse (but, considering his health problems, better than most of us would be doing in his shoes)
    • Personal: Better. He’s married now. How many HIV-positive folks swing that? He’s also promoting various fitness challenges and products via social media.
  • Drew Avery
    • Fitness: Better
    • Personal: Better (seems to be making it as a fitness consultant)
  • Everett Herbert
    • Fitness: Maintained (as best as I can tell)
    • Personal: Better. This man looks super happy.
  • Anthony Ellis
    • Fitness: Better. He’s ripped.
    • Personal: Better. Really, I don’t know what he was doing before the challenge, but it looks like he’s managed to make a living promoting fitness. Sounds good to me.
  • Jeff Seidman
    • Fitness: Better
    • Personal: Better. He went from being single and working as a valet to being married and owning his own gym by the beach. I think he, of the 10, is the Continuing Life Challenge winner. Woot.
  • Ralph Zangara
    • Fitness: No idea
    • Personal: With an annual income of nearly $200k, I’d say he’s doing pretty good–especially for a cop.
  • Brad Wadlow
    • Fitness: Maintained… maybe. Presumably if he’s working as a personal trainer, he’s at least maintained his fitness.
    • Personal: No idea

So that’s it. If you know something about these folks’ whereabouts and activities, let me know or leave it in the comments. If you’re doing the BFL challenge, I’d love to hear about it.

Thanks for reading.

10 thoughts on “Body-for-LIFE: the original 10 champions (Where are they now?)

  1. Andy Carrier

    Meredith left her physician husband for a competitive bodybuilder not too long after the BFL ’97.

    Ralph is still a Buffalo police officer and has gained every ounce of fat back and then some. He is now a great “before” picture.

    Porter is a police officer in Augusta, GA and still does a lot for the fitness world. He still keeps in contact with the company that purchased EAS.

    1. Mike

      Just watched body of work tonight.. been a good 15years since I last watched it. Glad to see you’re looking so good Jeff! You’re an inspiration

  2. Jake

    It’s funny, I just watched Body of Work today and also looked up all of these guys. Looks like Porter Freeman stopped updating his website a couple years ago, as well as hasn’t made a Facebook post since 2015. Hope he’s ok.

    Looks like Abb Ansley and Jeff Siedman are business partners now, and both still look great.

    Lynn seems to be hanging in there. He’s active on Facebook and looks reasonably healthy in recent pics.

    I can’t find anything on Anthony Ellis, other than his extremely outdated website.

    1. helvegr Post author

      Thanks for the update. Just did a brief search for updates on Anthony Ellis and Meredith Brown and still can’t find anything new. Ah well.

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