To some he is an incredibly inspiring role model. To others, he is that cocky musclehead at the gym you love to hate. No matter which camp you belong to, there is no question that Jeff Seid is a fitness phenomenon. In just a few short years he has become one of the most familiar, talked-about and widely photographed figures in the business. And he’s only 20 years old.
Jeff’s story is no secret. He’s broadcast it on countless YouTube videos, in Instagram posts and on Facebook where he has attracted over two million followers. As a young energetic kid growing up in Renton, Washington, Jeff was naturally drawn to athletics. He got into sports at age five. By the time he was 12 he was working out full time. His parents bought him a weight set that he used incessantly, a poster of Arnold Schwarzenegger on his wall to spur him on. Self-described as a nerd, Jeff spent most of his time reading fantasy books, playing video games such as Runescape and World of Warcraft, and dreaming of how he could one day become a superstar like his idol Arnold. Aspiring to go “from zero to hero,” he had a “desire and overwhelming passion to be different than everyone else,” he says. His goals knew no bounds. “It was this passion to be unique,” he writes, that “gives me the drive and motivation to be the best, and to accomplish all that I can so that one day, when I die, my name will live on forever.”
In high school, Jeff was a versatile athlete, tackling football, wrestling, baseball and track. While others were kicking back, Jeff would gravitate to the gym, preferring to pump iron. Even in 7th grade, he was “obsessed and dedicated” to his training. Looking at photos of him back then, his transformation was remarkable.
By the time he was 15 he already had the definition and size of an adult. By the time he was just 17 he was weighing in at a powerful 195 pounds. He was also insanely chiseled and ripped for someone so young.
Part of this is genetics. Jeff is gifted with a tall, lean frame, high metabolism, and tight waist that show off his physical assets to his advantage. Part of this was also his training as a wrestler where physical strength, speed and endurance are prized. Jeff’s skills and appeal were not lost on recruiters. A 2011 prep report in Washington State singled him out for praise: “Jeff is a terrific athlete and when he walks in the room the rest of the boys gotta up their game cause this guy gets the looks. A more defined and chiseled athlete does not exist in the Pacific Northwest right now.” A football scholarship seemed imminent. As far as Jeff was concerned, it was in the cards.
But then life threw him a curve. At the start of his senior year in high school playing football, Jeff tore his ACL and was sidelined. The scholarship hopes vanished. “It was a pretty depressing time in my life,” he stated. “Not only was my dream of playing sports in college shattered but all of my scholarship offers were gone, leaving me with no way to pay for college. I tore my ACL a second time a couple of months later and definitely thought my life was over.”
While recovering from surgery, Jeff happened across a website about bodybuilding and discovered the exploding new field of Men’s Physique competing. It was an eye-opener and a godsend. Suddenly he had found an outlet for his intense dedication and energy and a way to make the impact he so desperately craved. Fitness champion Tanji Johnson saw him at a gym in Washington and suggested he compete in the 2012 NPC Vancouver Classic Men’s Physique show she was promoting. Jeff, who is game for just about anything, entered and took top honors as Tall Class Winner and Overall Winner. Then at the NPC Emerald Cup he grabbed second place, followed by an impressive win at the Southern States Championships as Tall Class Winner and Overall Winner. The following year, in June 2013, shortly after his 19th birthday, Jeff won the US Jr Nationals, becoming the youngest IFBB Pro in history. “This is just the beginning of my journey,” he said, “that has taken me to various parts of the world and has introduced me to many incredible people.”
Off stage, Jeff has been creating a sensation with his wacky YouTube videos, social media postings, and impromptu street theatrics, posing on the streets of Vegas, for instance, in nothing but skintight shorts while flexing for tips. The fifty dollars he boasted of making in just twenty minutes then is nothing to the bankroll he’s been pulling in since by gaining sponsors such as Gymshark and ShapeYou, making appearances at expos, and selling personal training and diet packages to his fans. He also launched his own website with a paywall for exclusive content and SeidWear, a stylish online fitness apparel brand.
In the tradition of other top fitness stars, Jeff brings a showman’s talent to his shenanigans, alienating some with his goofball antics, the endless tongue-wagging selfies, and boundless braggadocio, but winning over a loyal audience of fans who seem to take his cheekiness in stride. Few figures in fitness rankle forum armchair pundits as much as Jeff Seid, but the majority of folks seem to cut him some slack because no matter what he says or does, he’s at least entertaining.
There’s no discounting the enormous effect he’s had on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter, spreading the message about healthy living, diet, and fitness to many people who might not hear about it elsewhere. From the get-go, people have compared Jeff to the legendary Zyzz, taking the “You mirin’?” act to a new extreme. But Jeff brings his own dynamic spin on aesthetic perfection that is winning over a new generation.
Meanwhile, Jeff Seid has been killing it with many of the top photographers in the business — Luis Rafael, Michael Anthony Downs, Justin Tayler, Wainwright Images, and more recently Ulrich Oehmen — gaining traction on Tumblr and other blogs. His sultry good looks, accentuated by his ever-changing hairstyles, make him a standout in any crowd. Likewise, Jeff’s sculpted physique has graced numerous magazine spreads, including Men’s Fitness, Gym, IronMan and Muscle & Fitness. Most recently he appeared on the cover of the new Menz Physique magazine, shot by Jason Ellis.
Jeff’s success has been a heady meteoric rise and one not without a few bobbles along the way. His fifth place showing at the Europa Show of Champions in 2014 was a disappointment. A video he did for a vitamin/supplement company in Germany seemed to demonstrate a lack of expertise about nutrition and was panned online. But the fault may have been the script he was made to read. It’s easy to throw daggers at someone who is working full-time in the spotlight. But at the end of the day what matters is whether they live up to their potential and continue to excel.
Lately Jeff has been showing a more serious side and coming into his own as a spokesman and role model. His postings on Facebook demonstrate a new maturity and respect for his audience. “Never forget why you began this journey,” he recently told his fans. “In sports and fitness, self motivation is everything… Your physique shows the type of person you are. Your character. Your mentality. Never lose sight of your goals and dreams. And always stay hungry for more.”
Just a couple of months shy of his 21st birthday, Jeff Seid appears to be delivering on his exceptional promise. He’s got what it takes and clearly knows how to use it. It will be interesting to see just how far he runs with it.
— by Peter Renault