IT STARTED as pledge to ‘get in shape’ – but now Ian Stevenson is competing in natural bodybuilding at an elite international level.

And for the Hakin man, the hard work continues as he prepares for three major competitions in October, including the UKDFBA finals.

“About 15 years ago I was out of shape and overweight,” admitted the 46-year-old.

“So I got into weight training and one thing led to another.”

Indeed, things later got serious for Ian, and in 2010 he took the opportunity to travel with wife Sian to Dallas in America, to train with world famous bodybuilder and retired Mr Olympia winner Ronnie Coleman.

“He taught me so much and suggested I should start competing so in 2011, I entered competitions and quickly got hooked. I’ve since taken part in more then 20 events, including several major ones, and have won five of them.”

Ian is showing no signs of relenting, and this summer won both the Masters’ 40 to 50-years-old category at the NPA Championships in Yorkshire, and his regional round of the UKDFBA competition which has qualified him for the afore-mentioned finals. He was also second in the BNBF Welsh finals.

But above all, he qualified for the recent European Championships in Barcelona, finishing seventh in his category.

Ian’s success comes off the back of a strict regime that includes weight training five mornings a week, as well as between 1-2 hours cardio work in the evening.

He trains at Keyholder’s Gym in Pembroke Dock with friend Rikki Schroeder, and is full of praise for owner Jonni Gammon for helping him with sponsorship.

He is also coached by Renzo Algieri, another well renowned Pembrokeshire bodybuilder now based in Cardiff.

“I have to give special mention to my wife Sian as well, who puts a lot of time and effort into preparing the right foods and keeping me on a strict diet.”

And as well as his own bodybuilding career, Ian is now looking to help others by offering nutritional and diet advice, after himself dropping from 16 stone (last November) to 10 stone 10 lbs now.