Greenwood Native Nathan Epler Wins USA Bodybuilding Championship In Las Vegas

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Greenwood resident Nathan Epler has reached a major milestone in his four-year journey as a competitive bodybuilder.

In July, Epler took home Heavyweight Champion honors at the 2019 National Physique Committee (NPC) USA Championships in Las Vegas, earning his professional bodybuilding card in the process. And at age 25, he’s just getting started both as a competitor as well as a personal trainer and coach.

Born and raised on the southside of Indy, Epler graduated from Greenwood Community High School in 2012 and from the University of Indianapolis in 2016 with a degree in sports management and a minor in business administration. His journey into bodybuilding came by way of participation in wrestling through his middle school and high school years, which he says served as a fitting segue into the world of bodybuilding he now inhabits daily.

“By the time I started my college career I knew I wanted to pursue bodybuilding, and my background in wrestling with the discipline I had learned prepared me pretty well for it,” Epler explains. “I didn’t know what direction I wanted to go with it, but I was only 132 pounds my senior year in high school and I knew I needed to get bigger.”

Daily weightlifting sessions and a structured diet eventually led to an interest in competition, and by 2015 Epler had entered his first show and, as he puts it, “Caught the bug.”

“Going through all the training and preparation is difficult, but once you get up on the stage it’s pretty indescribable with the adrenaline and excitement,” he says. “I was hooked at that point.”

However, it would be more than two years from that first show until Epler competed again, in March of last year at the NPC Midwest Battle of Champions at the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Indy Pro event.

“I knew I needed to grow and develop, plus I finished college in that time and got married,” he says. “I knew I’d be getting back into it though, and I won both of those shows in 2018 at the Midwest Battle of Champions.”

Epler’s championship run this year began with a first-place overall win at the NPC Junior Nationals in Chicago in June, which set the stage for the Las Vegas USA Championships.

“After winning both local shows in 2018, it was a 15-month plan that my coach Matt Kouba and I had, to win Junior Nationals and go into USAs with some momentum,” Epler says. “It was very strategic the way we planned it, and everything lined up the way we wanted it to so I’m thankful for that. I connected with Matt through social media and he’s a great coach. We clicked right off the bat as far as how we approach dieting and training.”

He describes the moment when the results were announced in Vegas as surreal.

“There were 21 guys in my class which is a big Heavyweight class — typically you don’t see that many guys in a class,” he says. “It was very nerve-racking but exciting. When they called my name all I could do was smile and think back on the 15-month run and all the hours in the gym I put in and focusing on my diet 24/7.”

Epler recently left his job as a loan officer with Bailey & Wood Financial Group to pursue personal training and bodybuilding full time, and his first professional show will be at the 2020 IFBB Indy Pro next spring, in the 212 weight class.

“Having won the Battle of Champions Heavyweight class here last year, it’s pretty iconic to come back home after winning my pro card and do my pro debut at that same show,” Epler says.

While training for the Indy Pro event, Epler plans to continue growing his personal training client base with an eye toward opening his own facility in Greenwood in a few years.

“My personal training and coaching really took off two years ago when I started winning some big shows, and I’ve always been good at coaching people,” he says. “Within the last year, I’ve gone from five clients to about 20. After I won USAs this year, I knew that coaching and training was my passion, and it coincides with what I’m doing with my bodybuilding.”

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