Brian Bourkland, trainer and bodybuilder. Photo by Naama Levy


Personal trainer Brian Bourkland is a serious bodybuilder. His clients generally aren’t, but that’s fine with him. “I’m mostly interested in working with people in my generation—40s, 50s, 60s,” Bourkland says. “Everyone should be building strength and bone density to feel better long into their retirement years.”

Then again, Bourkland, 52, is happy to help clients at any age if they get interested in bodybuilding. He only got serious about it himself when he was 47.

“I was working out at the YMCA,” he recalls. “I wasn’t thinking at that point about competitive bodybuilding, but I wasn’t satisfied with the way I looked. I found a trainer, and I stopped trying to lift heavier and heavier weights and focused on more repetitions. That actually built more muscle mass.”

Now he competes at shows sanctioned by the Indiana chapter of the National Physique Committee. “It takes about 16 weeks to get stage ready,” Bourkland says. “You have to practice posing to get the muscles to flex the way the judges want them to.”

Sketch courtesy IU School of Art, Architecture, and Design

In addition to a growing clientele, Bourkland’s physique got him an invitation to model at the Indiana University School of Fine Arts in an Anatomy for the Artist class. “They were looking for a muscular male,” he says. “I’ve been doing that since spring 2016.”

Bourkland came to Bloomington in 1993, originally to study at the IU Jacobs School of Music. He changed course, following an interest in health care. He worked at Bloomington Hospital for 18 years before deciding to focus on personal training.

“I’d been training with weights to de-stress since I was 14,” Bourkland recalls. “I see a lot of stress in my clients.”

Other clients have sought training to help relieve specific conditions like fibromyalgia. “I’m pre-diabetic myself,” Bourkland says. “Weight training lowers blood sugar.”

Most clients, though, just want to look and feel better. “I’m in it for life,” Bourkland says. “When I’m 75, if I take a fall, I want to be able to get up.”

Bourkland trains clients at Fitness and Strength Training 4 U (1960 1/2 S. Walnut). For more information, call 812-345-0804.