I’m Somair Alam—lawyer in Washington, D.C. by day and pro natural bodybuilder by night.
I was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, the middle of three brothers to Pakistani parents. I moved to the United States with family when I was 11. I’ve always been involved in athletics—played soccer in Sweden, wrestling in high school, and I’ve been lifting weights my entire life.
Lifting in particular is in my blood! My dad was a bodybuilder in Pakistan and in Sweden. My older brother is a serious lifter who used to own a prominent gym in his hometown in Sweden. Both my father and brother have influenced my own bodybuilding journey.
In 2005, when I had turned 21 and started my first semester of law at Villanova University, I was diagnosed with a rare intestinal cancer called GIST. The diagnosis was frightening to say the least.
In the recovery phase, I turned to bodybuilding to gain strength and get back up on my feet again. I began with light weight training and slow cardio. Each day I built upon my body. Each day I felt more strength in my limbs and more positivity pulse through my veins.
The cancer scare made me swear that I would push myself to be the healthiest, strongest version of myself. But it wasn’t until 2014 that I became interested in the idea of competing. I was increasingly dissatisfied with my daily work grind. I wanted to reach for something more. I wanted to train to my full potential and to compete on stage.
After 6 months of focused training I competed in my first show. I had solid muscle on my frame. But it turned out I wasn’t as lean as I needed to be. I also hadn’t practiced posing until the very last week before the show. I lost.
It was disappointing, but a great learning experience. I realized how different competition ‘lean’ was from day to day ‘lean.’ I fine-tuned my diet, cardio and posing.
I competed again after two months, placing 6th. In the third show, I came in 4th. Placing in the top 5 expanded my mindset as to the possibilities. I knew I was going to win 1st place soon and become a pro natural bodybuilder. I practiced my posing until I moved fluently.
I felt supremely confident going into my 4th show. I visualized my every move. I saw myself winning 1st place. When I stepped on stage, looking over at my competition I already knew I was the winner. I hadn’t felt like this ever before.
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When pre-judging was finished, I knew the judges had placed me in 1st place. I still needed to perform well in the finals to hold onto my 1st place spot. This made for an intense day. But when the show was over at 10 pm, I was awarded the 1st place trophy and qualified as Physique Pro. It was an incredible moment.
In reflecting on the journey, bodybuilding has been about building upon what I have been given—to reach towards becoming the strongest version of myself. To visualize goals and push through physical and mental barriers, to reach for my full natural potential.
Bodybuilding is one of the pursuits through which I fulfill my human need for continual self-realization. When I’m not in the gym, I can be found enjoying family dinners, traveling to Sweden or other spots around the world where I have family and friends, or exploring new places locally, especially in DC and NYC.