A walking inspiration

Published 4:43 pm Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Washington resident Mayhew Cox is pictured as he poses during the 2011 NPC Gold’s Classic Championship Bodybuilding competition held in Wilmington on June 11, at the Wilmington Convention Center. Cox took first place in the Masters 60+ division. (Contributed Photo)

Mayhew Cox is a 60-year old walking inspiration. Though he has been a life-long fan of body building, it wasn’t until roughly five years ago that the Washington resident began picking up weights. He hasn’t put them down since.
Cox recently took first place in the Masters 60-year old-plus division at the 2011 Gold’s Gym Classic National Physique Contest held in Wilmington and has provided proof that it’s never to late to get in shape.
It was around 2006 that Cox steadily began going to the gym. At the time, he wasn’t seeking physical benefits as much as he was looking for spiritual ones. It had recently been discovered that Jean Cox, Mayhew’s wife of 32 years, had cancer, and going to the gym provided an escape from the pain.
“I started when my wife was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. I was doing some working out at the time but I found it to be a good stress reliever. I had to go to the gym and beat up on the weights; I was pretty mad at the world,” Cox said.
Jean, a retired school teacher and mother to Laney and Kati Cox, passed away three years ago. For Mayhew, weight lifting continued to serve as a coping mechanism until it eventually became a part of his life.
“It was a relief for me. Knowing that she was diagnosed with terminal cancer you feel kind of helpless, so I did have to take it out on something,” Cox said. “Without even noticing it I saw results. I always wanted to workout but with a wife, kids and work it’s very hard to juggle your time.
“After her death, I tried to channel my free time into something productive without even noticing what I was doing. I found a lot of new friends at the gym and they pushed me. Being one of the oldest guys at the gym, working out with the young guys motivated me and for some reason they think I motivate them. So they’re as good for me as I am to them I guess.”
At the urging of some of his friends, Cox finally participated in his first body building contest in 2008, and though he felt like a fish out of water, he made a big splash in his debut as he took first place.
“The first one I was petrified. For one thing you are out there in a very small Speedo, which they call posing trunks,” Cox said. “ You feel completely naked but you do get used to it because backstage everyone is dressed the same way  so you don’t feel like an oddball. When you walk out on stage, you do all of the sudden realize, ‘I don’t really have any clothes on.’
“Of course, you also have to get a fake tan and that’s usually painted on. Then you have to get pumped up for the competition with small weights backstage. Surprisingly enough, they use Pam to oil you up. You stand on a tarp and hold your hands out and some person sprays Pam on you and get’s you all greased up. The grease highlights the muscles.”
For Cox, those muscles were developed via working out all year round, but they get refined and sculpted during a rigorous pre-contest training regiment.
“In preparation for the contest I usually start about 16 weeks before the contest. I start cleaning up my diet and monitoring all the food that I eat,” Cox said. “Before the last contest I weighed 211 pounds and I weighed in at the contest at about 175 pounds. I like to have nice, slow weight loss, about two pounds per week … I have an assistant and nutritionist in Greenville named Joe Romaine, he works with Body Sculptors and he helps me out with my diet.
Cox, who works as a real estate agent, still manages to keep up his grueling pre-contest routine.
“I workout about an hour at a time, but in that 16-week period I do workout twice a day,” Cox said. “The first thing in the morning my feet hit the floor and I put on my clothes, go to the gym and I do cardio. I start out with 20 minutes of cardio four days a week and I work up to 45 minutes of cardio five days a week.”
Between the gym membership, proper food and nutritionists, the sport can be a costly one, that’s why Cox is now looking into getting sponsored.
“I have friends who are trainers who think I can go further in this. It can be as expensive as any sport so I am seeking sponsors to assist me in competitions,” Cox said. “They can get in touch with me through my email address Mayhew@therichcompany.com … I feel like as far as sponsors go, vitamin companies or clothing companies would be good.”
As of now, the 60-year old Cox will continue to defy logic, and Father Time, as strict workout regiment continues to inspire those around him.
“I workout with a lot of guys in their 20s. Like I said, they feed off of me and I feed off of them,” Cox said. “It’s a competition to me. Yes they are younger and stronger, but I’m not going to let them win. I’m gonna beat them or at least try. I am a very competitive person, I didn’t realize that until late in life. These guys are 20 years old and they are bench pressing a lot more than I am but it’s my personal goal to stay with them and keep up with them even though they beat me every time.”