Service with a Smile - and muscles

An interview with JP

By Dan Shearer

December 2014

In a Livingston coffee shop Jean-Paul Malabar seems at first glance little different from his colleagues as he serves cappucinos and muffins.

But the softly-spoken Livingston local is an elite athlete, the reigning world champion natural bodybuilder and even under his long-sleeve shirt it shows. Over just four years “JP” as he is known has gone from being a complete novice to the most imposing imposing person in his weight class. So Konect caught up with JP to find out how this impressive achievement came about.

JP making coffee

In a way JP's bodybuilding story starts as so many do when he met a Scottish lass in his native Maritius. Two years later, in 2004, he moved to Scotland and married, settling in Livingston where the couple still live with their two children. “I love it here” he says with a smile, “I wouldn't live anywhere else now!” The only sports interest he brought from Maritius was distance running, which must have had its challenges in a mountainous country two thirds the size of the Hebridies! “When I arrived in Scotland I made Mo Farrah look fat”, he says. “But one day a friend invited me to watch him compete on the local natural bodybuilding scene and I thought I might be able to do this.” The friend was another champion, Andrew Chappel of Aberdeen, and with others associated with the Perth-based British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF) he started training and appearing in local competitions.

The results from JP's hard work and discipline soon started coming in. In 2009 JP started training, in 2010 he competed in Scotland as a novice, in 2012 he was runner-up in the lightweight category, and in 2013 he won the Scottish and British championship. The event report for Scotland says amusingly “JP has stand-out condition from top to bottom... the shock on his face when he was called in first was priceless!” Then he went to Miami and clinched the championship of the Drug Free Athletes Coalition in the Open World Finals.

So what does it take to win at this level?

The 38 year old says “I'm just a normal guy but if there's one thing I could do it would be to inspire someone. If I can do this then anyone can. I wasn't young when I started but I was inspired to train hard and be the best I can. As a champion at various levels I am qualified to be a judge at the Bodybuilding Federation and I volunteer in events across Scotland. It's great to see people of all ages including young women and men dedicating themselves to becoming athletes. I'm not sponsored, so for me this is entirely an amateur sport I do for the love of it.”

Training in the gym is the way to become a bodybuilder of course, but the proper diet is utterly essential. Using so many calories in the gym means that JP's intake has to be high, and every day he eats a small fortune in a high-carb diet. 200g of oats each morning and throughout the day he consumes two kg of sweet potatoes, 400g of chicken or other white meat, plus potatoes and lots of vegetables, “but the veggies don't really count!”. JP does not make great use of protein and mineral supplements even though they are legitimate, preferring instead foods in its natural form. Like any athlete treating JP treats his body like a machine, changing his diet in the last few days before a competiton so that on the day he has exactly the right balance of body fat and water over those impressive muscles, giving JP the classical ripped look on stage.

JP has a varied and rounded routine, his favourite exercises being squats and deadlifts. He trains at a local gym 4-5 times a week and then once or twice a week go goes to The Body Academy in Perth for heavy sessions on back or legs. The Body Academy is also the home of the Bodybuilding Federation, and the owner Vickie McCann (also a world champion!) is always ready to help with tricky questions of diet. The picture tells it all, JP is an athlete just gathering steam after only four years in the sport and his is looking forward to more wins. As the Miami report from last year said “Jean-Paul Malabar showed up looking nothing short of spectacular.... amateur bodybuilding's Mr Happy!”

What is Natural bodybuilding?

The sport is all about respecting an athlete's health and genetic limitations, and in bodybuilding perhaps more than most sports the temptation for artificial aids can be very strong. All kinds of high-tech drugs such as steroids are available that enhance performance and size of an athlete but at a terrible cost to health. Natural bodybuilding rejects these drugs, and in the UK under the Perth-based British Natural Bodybuilding Federation (BNBF) every athlete is tested for drugs and must even submit to a polygraph test. 

© Lothian Publications Ltd