They Inspire

These Olympia Competitors Are Spreading Inspiration Everywhere They Go

Kathryn Maloney

For Charjo Grant, the military runs in his blood. 

Raised by countless family members who served in the United States Military, Grant knew he always wanted to serve his country in some type of capacity. After playing football at Newberry College and enrolling in the ROTC program there, Grant later became commissioned as an officer in the Army National Guard. Since 2002, Grant has been fulfilling his dream of serving his country and now serves at the National Guard Bureau. 

Photo credit: Charjo Grant's Instagram

On top of his involvement with the military, Grant became a professional bodybuilder, although at first, he didn’t necessarily want to do bodybuilding. Grant enjoyed going to the gym because it helped him replace the role of football in his life, and when his father was tragically killed in 2017, he knew he needed to find something to help him focus. Grant now credits bodybuilding for taking him out of a dark place in his life. 

“That first year, I had no idea what I was doing,” Grant said. 

That didn’t last long however as Grant recently placed fourth overall in the Men’s Physique category at the 2022 Olympia and is now excited to continue competing. When asked what advice he would give to potential bodybuilders and people in general, Grant explained,

“I would definitely tell them to do some soul-searching. And you really have to want to do this. Not just doing this for the glam and the fame, because that can kind of cloud people's judgment.” 

Julia Waring, another IFBB bodybuilder, was also inspired by their family to join the military, but it wasn’t exactly Waring’s motivation to join herself. Waring’s passion to commission was sparked after joining JROTC in high school. The discipline was something that really appealed to Waring, and she ended up attending the U.S. Military Academy. Once Waring got out of the military, Waring turned to bodybuilding. 

“So when I got out of the military, I was looking for something to kind of keep me on a competitive edge,” Waring said. “I was going through a pretty hard time losing my grandfather and my trainer was like, ‘Well, let's do something that you can channel all that energy into.’”
Photo credit: Julia Waring

Waring worked hard in her new bodybuilding career and made it all the way to the “Olympics” of bodybuilding. Known as the Olympia, Waring qualified for this super bowl of bodybuilding by winning four different pro shows in 2018, and 2020-2022, but the road wasn’t always easy. Waring faced many obstacles along the way, including “learning to appreciate my body in every aspect of the sport.” Waring faced judgment from those who didn’t understand bodybuilding and expressed the difficulties she faced. Fortunately, by surrounding herself with more like-minded people, Waring was able to combat this issue. Although Waring is taking 2023 off to focus on the judges' feedback, which is to put on more size, expect to see her back in 2024.

Photo credits: Courtesy of Rob Wilkins, Julia Waring, Charjo Grant’s Instagram