Hello there! Thanks for visiting and welcome to Mirror Friendly. It is my honor to have you here.
This is just a little story about my life in sports. I am Andrew from Malta, born in November 1984. Fitness is the biggest passion of my life, it is who I am.
It all started at the age of 7 while competing at my first school sports day. That day I ran the 100 yards sprint, placing first and beating my opponents with a large margin to the delight of my parents. Having discovered my talent in sprinting they subsequently enrolled me with the leading local athletics club, Athleta Pembroke, where I could nurture my talent and measure myself with the best athletes on the island. I believe that this was one of the best decisions my parents could have ever taken on my behalf. Here I built the character and discipline that have fuelled me on through all these years and made me the person I am today. Here I have embodied the ‘no excuse’ and the ‘can do’ attitudes, rain or shine.
Growing up in athletics I have won many national 100 metres titles setting national records along the way through the Cadet, Youth and Junior categories. During these years I represented Malta internationally in a number of competitions including the FISEC Games, Youth Island Games and the more prestigious World Youth Championships and World Junior Championships. I eventually made the senior national team and competed in the 100 metres and 4×100 metres relay setting a new senior national record in the latter event. My personal best at 100 metres clocked 10.91 seconds which I ran at the age 20. Unfortunately during my early 20s I was regularly being hampered by injuries which eventually forced me to abandon athletics at the age of 24 albeit the promising potential I had.
Luckily enough while training for sprints I was required to conduct weekly weights sessions at the gym. I recall how much I used to look forward to these workouts. Under the supervision of my sprints coach, Jivko Jetchev, himself an ex professional pole-vaulter for the Bulgarian national team, and whom I consider to be my father in sports, I learned proper form and technique. Being naturally gifted in quick muscle growth and encouraged by my close friends, bodybuilding was the most clear and obvious way forward after retiring from athletics.
Once having shifted my energies completely onto fitness my main motivation was to see my body become more muscular and lean, developing into a stronger natural version of myself. At that point I never really thought about taking it to a competitive level. I considered training at the gym as a sport which I could perform and enjoy without the restrictions and the strict regime I lived during the athletic years which were the direct consequence of competitions.
My initial months at the gym started with a 5 day week training program which was working great and which I also found fulfilling. In fact it quickly became a 6 day week training routine which I still follow today. In a matter of months I could see good results on my body, so evident that other gym members where often walking up to me to ask for my input and advice in their own training. In the process I also enhanced my knowledge in nutrition through many hours of reading and also through paying attention to the response of my muscle and fat composition to different foods by trial and error.
The more hours I spent at the gym, the bigger my fitness network became. It was a year after I had quit athletics that I decided to participate in my first bodybuilding and fitness competition, the national championships of the Malta Bodybuilding & Physique Sports Federation (“MBPF”), one of the minor fitness federations on the island, which was more out of spontaneous curiosity rather than a premeditated plan. In fact I had only submitted my application 2 weeks before contest day without having ever attended a bodybuilding event, not even as part of the audience. I had no clue how to pose but I was aware that my physique was in pretty good shape. I recall reverting to my gym mate and trainer Joseph Galea, who had previously successfully competed in bodybuilding, to guide me on a pre-competition diet and also on posing. Until this day I remain grateful to him as thanks to his advice my competition went very well. That time I had placed third in the Physique category which was a great result considering I had very poor posing, one of the most vital elements a competitor must display on stage. Most importantly that day showed me that my disappointments in athletics were not an end to themselves but a means for me to move on to something which was more than a sport, but pure passion.
Training sessions at the gym following this contest took a new dimension. Rather than just training for the fun of it, the nature of my sessions also came along with a direction, a motive i.e. planning my training and nutrition around peaking at selected competitions and reaching higher levels year on year. The fact that I could train without the injury worries I experienced during my athletics career made my sessions even more effective and less stressful. The more I trained and refined my workouts and food, the bigger and leaner I became. I competed again at the MBPF Championships in 2011 and 2012, placing second and first respectively.
In July 2013 I contested and won a well-attended photo competition by one of the leading nutrition stores in Malta. I recall having entered this shoot in super condition, even better than my own expectations. It was through the latter event that my recognition in local fitness started gaining some momentum. In fact a few weeks later I was approached by Ralph Decelis, president of the International Federation of Bodybuilding (“IFBB”) in Malta, the biggest fitness federation both locally and around the world, to compete in the IFBB 2014 National Championships. I quickly figured this as a great opportunity since I knew that these championships would allow me to measure myself against the cream of local fitness.
Without hesitating I gave my word to Ralph on competing and on the 19th April 2014, following a few good months of hard training and strict nutrition, I contested the sell-out event and on that night I became National Men’s Physique Champion (Short Category). In a matter of a few years I had gone from being a national sprinter to a national bodybuilder which today fills me with a sense of accomplishment.
The victory at the National Championships booked me a place at the IFBB European Championships in Spain a month later, in May 2014. There I contested the Men’s Physique 1m 70 category against the various national champions of Europe, which following some controversial judging saw me being placed in 10th position. Needless to say I was aiming for higher and I believe I could have easily placed top 6. For a short while I was disappointed with my placing but on the other hand the European Championships were a confidence booster in that I could see at first hand that my level, which I can proudly say to have strictly achieved the natural way, can compare to the best athletes in Europe.
A boost which was multiplied in 2015. If 2014 had been a groundbreaking year for my career in fitness, 2015 was proof that the previous year’s achievements were no fluke. For the second time I contested the IFBB Nationals, yet again winning the Men’s Physique title 1m70. A few weeks later I flew to Spain to take part at the Europeans, this time with more confidence due to the experience gained the year before. This time I was placed in 8th position, bettering my placing from 2014. To say I was satisfied would be incorrect since I and the IFBB Malta crew were expecting a better placing in the final lineup but at the end of the day placing in the European top 10 is something to be proud of.
While over the past few years my sporting career was flourishing I also hit a lucky spell in meeting Martina. Martina is from Slovakia and apart from being my girlfriend for 4 years, she is even a nutritionist. Martina and I quickly clicked and as we spent more time together she grew fonder of my passion for fitness. In return she was helping me refine my knowledge on nutrition. Through these years Martina managed to transform her body by embracing resistance training and in doing so today serves as a source of inspiration to those ladies seeking to get fitter and look better. In Martina’s hard work and dedication I saw a priceless asset and to this effect in December 2014 I crowned her as my right hand on Mirror Friendly, exactly one year after having launched my blog.
A great source of satisfaction comes from the fact that the many individuals whom we have assisted in undergoing lifestyle revamps have all achieved significant results in losing fat, building muscle, becoming fitter and more confident. They have commended us for being great mentors and motivators as manifested in these testimonials. This success led to the launching of our online shop whereby we have been offering personalised nutrition plans and training programs to reach out to more people who would like us to guide them in improving their body through lifestyle tweaks.
To those people who are under the impression that in order to carry a fit physique and live healthily one needs to live a boring lifestyle, I say that a life in fitness is far from being boring. It leads to a better quality of life in decreasing stress, feeling stronger, improving confidence, sleeping better, looking younger and as a result being happier. As to those those youngsters who look up to me and to other athletes like me I say: Your body is a powerful machine and can work wonders if treated respectfully; so say no to steroids, always.
On a side note, along my sporting career I thankfully achieved professional success, graduating with a Masters in Accountancy at the University of Malta and working in the financial sector as an auditor, accountant and CFO for a good 8 years… until I decided to follow my dream and fly to Australia in September 2015 to further my studies in fitness together with Martina. Fast forward an amazing year later, during which I became a qualified personal trainer at the Personal Training Academy in Melbourne and collected lessons and experiences travelling around Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
Upon wrapping up this priceless journey, Martina decided to settle down in Slovakia to be closer to her family while I chose to return back home to Malta, soon after which I was offered the role of COO at my previous workplace which I happily took up. Naturally, my passion for fitness remains as strong as ever and I continue running this blog on the side together with Martina’s continued support. Furthermore my team wouldn’t be complete without my cousin Tanya, a registered Holistic Nutritionist & fitness aficionado based in Toronto, Canada. Tanya plays a vital role in the Mirror Friendly mission by writing quality articles which you can find on this website.
The events narrated above have stamped my life in a manner and sequence that led to lighting up and fueling my desire to share my passion with you out there. Mirror Friendly allows me to convey the perspective of an accountant and ex-sprinter turned natural physique athlete into owning the body you desire because as I keep confirming every day of my life, the majority of us want to look and feel better every time we catch a glimpse of our reflection in the mirror.
To fitness with love,