When he was 21 years old, Johnny Quinn was in a serious motorcycle accident that left him a paraplegic, unable to move from the chest down due to a shattered T9 vertebrate. His injuries following the accident were so extensive that he was given only a 10% chance of survival.
Johnny was never one to let the odds beat him. Now, he’s placed third at the highest level of competitive bodybuilding in the world, the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB). His journey has been fraught with stumbling blocks and challenges, but he has emerged a stronger person, not only physically, but spiritually, as a result.
A fitness enthusiast who has been a competitive bodybuilder for the past 12 years, Johnny had a very difficult time adjusting to life in a wheelchair. Not only were his physical limitations frustrating, he quickly realized just how easy it was to put on weight and become lethargic when confined to the chair all day, every day. Like many people with disabilities, Johnny had a desire to return to his idea of normalcy and a strong drive to get back into the gym to start working out again.
This wasn’t an easy task. Developing a workout and bodybuilding routine that would not result in injury due to his disability required a lot of creative thinking. For example, while he does many of the same exercises he previously performed, he now must do them lying down. Since his spine doesn’t work properly, he has to maintain the prone position to keep it fully supported.
After some time feeling his way on his own, Johnny was introduced to the concept of wheelchair bodybuilding through a magazine article and was immediately hooked on the idea. It took him only a year of working out using the new methods he discovered before he entered (and placed) in a local bodybuilding competition, receiving a standing ovation from the enthusiastic crowd. He has now gone professional, one of only 17 wheelchair body builders in the entire world who have done so. He has even landed a cameo in a film—Mark Wahlberg’s Pain and Gain, wherein the star gives him a high five.
Johnny credits his faith and his focus on bodybuilding for keeping him going when his original prognosis was so thin. Bodybuilding, he says, has enabled him to focus on what he is capable of doing, rather than on the limitations placed upon him by his disability.
“I want to use bodybuilding as a way to inspire people to be the best they can be,” he said. “To never give up, no matter what the situation looks like. I’ve accomplished more in my life being in a wheelchair then I ever thought would be possible.”
He hopes that his experience will serve as an inspiration and motivator to others, helping them see that you can accomplish great things while living with a disability. Hear Johnny tell his story!