Quite the body of work: U of M Asper student Matt Sherman’s story

Photo by Mike Still

Bodybuilder Matt Sherman has had quite a unique journey. The 24-year-old Winnipegger originally grew up in Oak Bluff, Manitoba, but was forced to move around quite frequently due to his father’s occupation as a freelance welder. Sherman left his hometown at the age of 12, splitting his education through middle school and high school at three different establishments. He spent grades 6-11 in New Brunswick and finished grade 12 in Ontario. His family moved back out east to Nova Scotia shortly after his graduation.

The erratic change in environments put a lot of pressure on Sherman. He had to continually make new friends and adjust to his new surroundings. This caused an enormous amount of stress, which Sherman dealt with by going to the gym.

“I had a lot of things taken away from me,” commented Sherman. “I knew that the gym always had structure. I knew that I could go in any province, doesn’t matter where it was, I had the gym. It was something that I knew was defined.”

Despite constant fluctuation, Sherman managed to stay focused academically. He had a goal of attending business school, and worked hard to maintain the required grades to get in. His only problem was money. He couldn’t afford to pay for university tuition, so he worked to save up for the necessary funds.

To make money, Sherman began detailing cars in Halifax. He hung around at a do-it-yourself carwash, and provided touch-up services for various customers. In the meantime, he continued to work out. At the age of 19, with the support of his local gym in Halifax, he decided to enter his first bodybuilding competition.

“People there were motivated by me, because I went there to relieve my anxieties and my stresses, and it motivated me so I worked harder,” noted Sherman. “I pretty much said, ‘Now what do I do? I’m in really good shape, and I want to keep in good shape,’ so I started competing at a really young age.”

Sherman’s reasons for getting involved in bodybuilding began as a way to release stress, but soon evolved into a means to motivate others and to make money. His first competition was in 2009, with the Nova Scotia Amateur Bodybuilding Association. Later that same year, Sherman competed in events put on by the New Brunswick Physique and Figure Association and the Ontario Physique Association.

“If I can go on stage in a speedo, I can do anything. So at a young age I really learned that nothing is impossible,” Sherman told the Manitoban.

Photo supplied by Matt Sherman

Photo supplied by Matt Sherman

Following his 2009 bodybuilding competition debut, he took four years off in order to focus on saving more money to pay for school. Sherman managed to acquire a job working in the mines, and travelled around Canada’s North – from Thompson to as far away as Yellowknife. While the work was exhausting, he never lost sight of his goal, and was able to earn enough money to come back home to Winnipeg in 2013.

He was successfully admitted into the Asper school of business in the fall of 2013, and also returned to the bodybuilding circuit – in impressive fashion. Sherman won the 2013 Fitness STAR Model Search, hosted in Winnipeg last September. His top overall score earned him an open invitation to the 2014 Fitness STAR Model Search World Championships, which takes place in Toronto on Aug. 9.

While his early accomplishments within the bodybuilding scene have been impressive, Sherman is still focused on balancing exercise with his academics. He hopes to one day own his own gym, and help motivate discouraged people to train and improve themselves.

“I’m not a doctor; I don’t know how to do surgery, but I do know the gym, and I know how to lift, eat, and how to train other people,” said Sherman with a smile. “People who have no idea, I want them to be able to come in, and just be like family.”