2016-07-20 / Local News

Voorhees teen changed his life through bodybuilding


FAMILY: Parents Randy and Tracey, sister Reagan, 14

SYNAGOGUE: Temple Beth Sholom


FAVORITE FOOD HE MAKES: Protein pancakes

FAVORITE CHEAT FOOD: Ben & Jerry’s “The Tonight Dough”


Besides his bar mitzvah, a highlight of turning 13 for Rhett Zeid was finally being old enough to start lifting weights with his dad at the Katz JCC Fitness Center.

From his first few reps, Rhett was hooked. What started out as a vehicle to lose baby fat and get into better shape has become a way of life for the Voorhees teen who now trains six days a week, typically for 2-3 hour stints, while eating “clean” meals six times a day.

And in June—almost five years to the day he started his training—Rhett entered his first bodybuilding contest, where he came in first place in two divisions at the National Physique Competition South Jersey Championships. Although this was untested water for the Eastern High School freshman, Rhett said he went in confident he would do well. He considers it a testament to his hard work, dedication and consistency that he came up on top in the Teen Bodybuilding division and the Teen Classic Physique competition.

“It just felt natural for me,” said Rhett, who is working over the summer as a lifeguard at the Katz JCC pool. “I wasn’t nervous even though it was my first time on the stage presenting. I was excited I was doing it.”

Fresh from his success, Rhett is surer than ever that he wants to get more serious about bodybuilding. He plans to enter more competitive shows, starting with a contest that will be held in Medford in October, compete for cash prizes, and then move on to garnering sponsorships and eventually working in the industry.

“Weightlifting totally changed my life,” he said. “It boosted my confidence. It makes me happy and brought me to a good place in my life.”

Looking back, Rhett said the transformation began out of a strong desire “to change myself.” In middle school, he said, he would wear lose sweatshirts to hide his body and ate junk food with little understanding of nutrition.

Once he started weightlifting, he immediately started seeing results. This inspired him to dramatically change his diet, he said, noting that he cooks all his own meals, including delicious egg whites with coconut oil and spinach, grills like a pro, and makes many fish dishes.

The hardest part, he said, has been balancing his high school life with bodybuilding, since he has to shift focus from weight training to academics. He said that the discipline required for weight lifting has helped him maintain his GPA at Eastern while making time for spring track, where he throws javelin, and for playing his guitar.

He takes rest days very seriously, and will even make it a cheat day, where eating a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is not out of the question.

Dan Margolis, who coached Rhett in the last few months before the June event, said the competitions will get much more intense as Rhett moves on.

“He did amazing during his first competition, but once he enters the bigger shows, he’ll really see what this is all about,” said Margolis, who competed in the collegiate nationals when he was 21 and made it to the top 15 ranked body builders. “This is not something that happens overnight.”

Rhett said he’s willing to do the work.

“It’s really something I want to dedicate my life to,” he added. s

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