Muscle Sport Magazine

Mr. USA John DeFendis – A Relentless Pursuit & a Focused Vision

By Mr. USA John DeFendis – When I started my journey in bodybuilding, almost 42 years ago, the Ed Butler quote above would have meant nothing to me. After all, who would have thought that little 10-year-old Johnny DeFendis would have the ability to pursue a goal and then maximize the results of that goal for over 40 years?

I certainly didn’t.

My father handed me my first barbell and I took to it like Tiger Woods to his golf club at that tender young age. At only 13, I made it my goal to win the Mr. USA title and I wrote it down in one of those black and white notebooks that you get at a ‘Back to School’ sale.

I started competing at 15, lost my first nine contests, but refused to be weakened or quit. I then incorporated the Coaching, Training and Mentorship of Mr. America Steve Michalik with Bob Gruskin handling my nutritional needs.

It was at this time that the knowledge and fortitude that I acquired from these two greats paid off and I went on to be the only teenager to ever win the Teenage AND the Overall Mr. Metropolitan New York title in the history of the contest. At 20, I placed third in the Mr. USA Contest held in San Jose, California and 10 years later I won the Overall Mr. USA title and accomplished a goal that most people laughed at when I shared it with them prior to winning.

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But the achievement of what many consider a lifelong goal was only the beginning of my journey. You see, it is not our personal achievements and the accolades that we receive, that make us a success in life. It is how we utilize those achievements to improve the lives of the ones around us.

My definition of a champion is as follows:

A person who has excelled and conquered any worthwhile and hard earned goal or title, who uses his knowledge, experience and celebrity status to help others establish their own personal goals and then relentlessly pursue them until they create their own personal success.

The first thing that I recognized before and after I won the USA title was that God was instrumental in my plan and my success and that I had a responsibility to Him to use it to glorify his name. What better way to glorify his name than to help others, as God would want us to?

I began helping and training people when I was 18 years old and I have traveled this path for over 33 years now. I gained momentum with each testimonial and my efforts and blessings enabled me to be awarded the Trainer of the Year Award in Florida for nine consecutive years, The Hardcore 12 nomination for most Intense and Dedicated in the sport of Bodybuilding and finally the Induction in the Fitness and Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 2007.

Fast forward to 2009. As I sit here, I look back over the years and I am amazed at how God has worked in my life. I have a beautiful wife named Sherry and everything that a man could ever ask for, and I have enjoyed a career that I love and one that I am passionate about. In 1982, I designed my Ultra Fit Program for Weight Loss Success and combined it with my Intensity or Insanity principles to build and manage a team of more than 350 trainers since then. Together we have helped tens of thousands of people to lose weight, build muscle and live healthier and happier lives.

In 2006 I relocated from South Florida to Greenville, South Carolina.

I currently manage an incredible team of Ultra Fit Trainers at Coop’s Health and Fitness in Greenville and Anderson and together, we are saving and changing lives. My team consists of talented, educated and caring trainers who want the best for our clients. Their commitment is unparalleled in the industry and I am so proud of their work.

My goal for 2010 is to be in my best ever shape at 52 years old, to walk the walk, to inspire others throughout the world and to help thousands of people with Ultra Fit and through great avenues like MuscleSport Magazine.

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Weight Loss and Fitness Hall of Fame Inductee John DeFendis is the Founder of the Ultra Fit nutrition and exercise program. In addition to international recognition as a weight loss and fitness expert, DeFendis has been a spiritual and motivational speaker, professional athlete, and performance/lifestyle coach for over 32 years and has guided thousands of Americans in the definition and achievement of their professional and personal objectives. His philosophy of “Relentless Pursuit” can best be illustrated by his defined objective of a Mr. USA title, committed to paper at age 13 and ultimately achieved in 1988 at age 30. More than a generation of short-term emotion, DeFendis initiates sustained, quantifiable achievement with the individuals and organizations with which he works.

DeFendis developed Ultra Fit 26 years ago and executes the program through a national team of personal trainers. Ultra Fit is the most comprehensive weight loss, toning and shaping, and anti-aging program available and since its development, has produced tens of thousands of success stories.  The program is responsible for results which include the loss of 100 pounds or more by hundreds of Americans in the last 2 years alone and has been featured on a number of major television programs and networks including Hard Copy (four times), ABC TV’s 20/20 with Barbara Walters, Fox News, CNN, CBS, and ABC News, ESPN, The Joan Rivers Show and NBC Sports.  

Utilizing his “T.E.A.M”. philosophy (Training, Education, Accountability, Motivation), DeFendis consistently and flawlessly delivers on his promise of guaranteed results, which include not only the achievement of individual weight loss, fitness, and lifestyle objectives, but also:

  • The potential elimination of prescription medications for cholesterol, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes and their cost.
  • Improvement in work productivity.
  • Reduction in lost time injuries and absenteeism.
  • Improvement in professional and personal relationships due to increased self-esteem and self-confidence.

DeFendis’ clients and accomplishments include:

  • Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and 17 Senators & Congressmen at the Congressional gym.
  • Clothing designer Calvin Klein.
  • CEO of American Express Jim Robinson.
  • Professional ballplayers Mike Piazza and Luis Alicea.
  • Professional boxer Andrew Golatta.
  • Numerous seminars for the Atlanta Braves, St. Louis Cardinals, and the Phoenix Suns Basketball team.
  • Personal training of over 300 champion titleholders in Figure, Fitness and Bodybuilding.
  • Appearance on 24 national and international magazine covers
  • International Fitness Hall of Fame inductee along with fitness superstars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Lalanne.
  • “Trainer of the Year” for nine consecutive years for the state of Florida.

In addition to the above, DeFendis has hosted radio talk shows on fitness and nutrition, as well as in general interest. Additionally, he has written a syndicated newspaper column, which was published in 28 newspapers and currently writes a newspaper column entitled “Your Personal Trainer.”

DeFendis is the Director of Exercise for the International Sports Sciences Association, the premier personal training certification agency in the country and is currently writing their Personal Training course.

John DeFendis maintains his health and strength at over 50 years old and is a representative and example of fitness over 50 and how the lifestyle can benefit us as we mature towards our senior years. For more info, please visit

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  1. Pingback: Mind Over Muscle: The ‘Intensity/Insanity’ Training Method | Muscle Sport Magazine

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