Profile in Crohn’s Courage: Peter N. Nielsen

To close out Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness week, I’d like to mention another person who serves as an inspiration to me as I learned (and continue to learn) how to live with my Crohn’s even though I’ve never met him: Peter N. Nielsen.

I was already somewhat aware of Peter the day that I  browsing through the Border’s in downtown Ann Arbor sometime in the mid-nineties, I had seen him on television with the local NBC affiliate with who he had a regular fitness segment on the news, when I discovered his book “Will of Iron – A Champion’s Journey.” I picked it up because I wondered why I should be interested in his story. Sure, he was clearly fit and a former champion bodybuilder but he was not Arnold or Big Lou. But after a quick look at the book’s cover I discovered that like me, he had Crohn’s – but he sure didn’t look like me. I bought the book and quickly learned of his life story.

He was formally diagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of 15 after being small and sickly most of his life. Shortly after his diagnosis he had surgery to remove a portion of his colon (he has had several more surgeries since then and possibly more) and after the surgery his doctor suggested to his parents that he needed to gain some weight so why don’t they get him a weight set. Well, his dad did and the next thing you know his life was changed.

In his book, Peter explains that he did not think he would become a bodybuilder or be a celebrated trainer – this was the late seventies after all and such lifestyles were still looked upon with suspicion, but that weight set changed a lot of things. Slowly, other influences crept into his life. First, he lived in Brooklyn, NY just a couple miles away from were Lou Ferrigno, already a neighbor “legend” and about to become more so as the “Hulk,” grew up. A cousin who played football at Boston College who was also an avid weightlifter left some “muscle mags” around the house and Peter would find them and at first laugh at why anyone would do that to themselves, let alone get on stage all oiled up. Then he took a weight training class in his last year of high school and he admits that he didn’t try to hard. Illness forced him back to the hospital though and when he got out he made a decision to build himself back to “normal.” He began working out in small basement of the apartment building his family lived in. The bug had bit and soon, he built himself back to normal and then some!

Peter went on to become a successful competitive bodybuilder and after dabbling in that lifestyle for sometime he made the decision to move to the Detroit area and through hard work and dedication found himself as a local fitness celebrity and inspiration to many people, including myself.

Peter has quite a web presence and can tell his story better than I can. If you’d like to learn more about this remarkable man his web site is:



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