by Matt Weik
It goes without saying that Erik Fankhouser is not a selfish individual. In fact, his choices in life have always revolved around family. Erik is known for his freaky size and conditioning come contest time—part of the reason his nickname is “The House”. He earned his pro card in 2007 after winning the North American Championships, making him the first West Virginia native to every become an IFBB Professional Bodybuilder. Some to this day still consider his wheels the best in the business, even though he stepped away from the stage and put away his posing trunks for a little while to focus on taking care of business at home. Some say his choice to come back to the sport is a “coming home party” but in Erik’s eyes, he’s never left. Don’t call it a comeback, but “The House” is about ready to kick ass and take names. While unsure when he will step back on stage, Erik is definitely someone to keep a very close eye on.
Before you left the stage it goes without saying that you had quite the fan-base. What was it like having people aspiring to achieve a physique like yours?
I never looked at it as a fan-base. I always looked at it like having supporters and friends with common goals. We are all in the game together. Everyone has fitness goals and I always tried to help motivate them just like everyone motivated me.
What is the driving factor for you getting back into the fitness and bodybuilding industry?
The mirror and trying to stay healthy. I have always worked out to stay in shape and stay healthy not for the competing. It’s not an industry to me it’s just a lifestyle.
How did the recent signing with Animal come about? It’s sort of like going home, no?
I really never left Animal and they really never let me go. It’s just I wanted to get out of the loop for a while. I will always be an Animal, they have been nothing but good to me and I started using their products when I was a teen and was hooked because the quality and what the stood for. All my Animal brothers and sister on animalpak.com are great.
What made you leave the stage and fitness industry to change careers and become a coal miner?
I needed a new job that paid better. I was an exercise physiologist at a hospital but the pay was not that great. So I live in a coal mining area and the pay is great so I decided to enter that line of work. Coal mining is an honest job, a damn hard job, and I enjoy the hands on labor I endure everyday underground.
Coal mining is a very physically demanding career as well as a dangerous one. How will the labor affect your training?
The labor does not affect my training. I train each day before work and suck the job up like a man. It’s long hours and days but I have thick skin and a family to support so I do what is needed to make ends meet. Yes, it is dangerous but I accept that.
You were an exercise physiologist before the career change. What was that like?
I enjoyed doing it because I like everything about exercise. Sometimes you got to give things up in order to get what others need.
What was it like not training to compete the past 3 years? Did you even have the energy after a long day mining to get to the gym?
It was great not being on a diet and training just to stay healthy. I believe that you always have energy if you want it bad enough.
Without the contest prep dieting and watching macros, did you find yourself keeping a close eye on your nutrition after you changed careers?
I still eat clean, but I don’t count anything if I want to eat I eat. If I feel I am getting too fat I just tighten down some things and it all balances out. It’s not hard if you keep away from the junk and workout you will be good for the most part.
What can we expect to see in 2016 from “The House”?
I am taking it slow. I am starting to train heavier and harder more for mass right now. Not sure if I will step on stage again. I am taking it one step at a time. I have no plans of competing in 2016 just getting me back into bodybuilding shape.
Is there anyone you’d like to thank before we close up this interview?
I’d like to thank my wife, my kids, my family, God and Animal.