Skip to main content

After 10 years of 'sacrifices,' Sask. body builder earns elite pro card


The first time Chris Buhr seriously considered pursuing bodybuilding, he was hooked.

The grueling discipline and preparation, the hours in the gym and the posing were all a big draw. After his first show, he figured he could dedicate himself more to the craft and set a goal of becoming a professional within a few years.

Flash forward 10 years later and Buhr was finally able to realize his dreams after finishing as the overall winner at the Vancouver Pro/Am show last month to earn his International Federation of Bodybuilding pro card, one of only three opportunities in Canada each year.

"I spent a lot of time just reflecting on everything that it took to get there. All of the hardships and the sacrifices and it was a really, really good positive weekend," Buhr said.

"Just the high of the weekend and the excitement. I don't think I didn't have a smile on my face the whole time."

Buhr, the co-owner of Forged Fitness gym in Martensville, had to endure plenty of sacrifices along the way to accomplish a dream that took twice as long as he initially intended.

Through it all, his mother Sheila Buhr has been supporting every milestone along the way. But for the first time, she was unable to stream and watch the Vancouver event.

"This time I didn't pay to watch it and I thought, 'Maybe he'll win this time if I don't watch it,' she said, hoping her absence is not the good luck charm Buhr needed to go pro.

"It is so nerve-racking watching, like my stomach is churning. It's harder on me than it is on him probably."

Sheila never imagined her little boy would one day become a hulking 200-plus pound bodybuilder, but she knew early on his determination and will set himself apart from his peers.

"He's the type of person that anything that he sets his mind to, he will do," she said. "The mindset that he has just to say no to all the outside influence"

After joining hockey with no formal training as a child he could barely stop or skate backwards. By the end of the year he was one of the best players on his team. When he ran track and field, other parents marveled to Sheila at his speed.

When injuries forced him to step away from track and field more than 10 years ago, she knew it was a matter of time before his pro bodybuilding aspirations would become a reality.

Buhr said it's the discipline, sacrifice and determination that makes the difference between first and second place at any competition.

After winning Mr. Saskatchewan in 2015 and 2017 before going to the national level in 2018, Buhr realized what level of competition he was up against with a discouraging eighth overall finish. It provided him a wake-up call of sorts to push his training to the next level.

"You can't miss meals, you can't cheat on your diet. You can't miss workouts. You can't miss cardio sessions, you have to nail every single aspect of it to gain every single pound of muscle from point a to point b," Buhr said.

"What I am now is the vision that I had 10 years ago. I didn't know it would take 10 years to get there, but through the process of just enjoying the milestones along the way it really helps the time go by."

Buhr learned to completely ignore any outside distractions that could take his attention off bodybuilding.

If his workout schedule deems he will be at the gym all day on Christmas, that's where you will find him. People may not realize the effort that takes. He doesn't stray one spoonful away from his diet. One meal or one bite would just put him one day behind his goals, so why even entertain it?

"Anything that you're thinking you're missing out on is actually a distraction and a step back from the goal that you're working towards," Buhr said.

Buhr said that effort took about three or four years to master. Now, he considers food for function and not for taste. He brings containers of food with him at any family event or holiday. At first, his family members made fun of him for it. Now, it's accepted as who he is.

Even the process of eating becomes a full-time job during the competition offseason where bodybuilders are trying to gain any ounce of available muscle. That can involve eating up to 7,000 calories a day.

"That's six hours of eating a day because your appetite is so bogged down that you're literally just sitting there sweating, gagging trying to eat chicken and rice all the time," he said.

"There's lots of late nights that you're up till one in the morning trying to get your six meals in and there's lots of early mornings that you have to get going on with your day."

Sheila used to have trouble peeling Buhr away from her lasagna. Now, she doesn't even offer it, knowing Buhr would never accept the offer.

"I think it sat in the freezer for six months before his wife finally ate it," she said, remembering the last time she cooked Buhr the dish.

With his major milestone now behind him, Buhr has shifted his focus to become one of the bodybuilding legends painted on the upper wall at his gym. Now that he's among the pro ranks, next up is winning an event and competing for the Mr. Olympia trophy.

"I know that 10 years ago he had dreams of winning the Olympia so there's no stopping him," Sheila said. "There's no stopping him." Top Stories

Stay Connected