It was less than 10 years ago that Calum Von Moger was on top of the world. The Australian bodybuilding sensation had won international titles, went viral with YouTube, attained a massive fanbase, and was creating a legacy in the fitness industry. He even played the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Bigger,” which chronicled the life of Joe Weider.

“It seemed like me and Chris (Bumstead) were on the same trajectory at that point.”

Many people felt he was still climbing his mountain of success when he started facing numerous setbacks. It all started when he was filming a YouTube video with Bumstead and tore his bicep while attempting a tandem barbell curl with 405 pounds. Von Moger knew that he would need several months to recover, but he was prepared for the challenge.

“That was my first setback,” he said. “That was almost like a warmup for what was to come.”

Unfortunately, his road would only get longer with more potholes. While he was recovering from his biceps tear, he had an accident while scaling down a cliff and tore his quad. The bicep was also reinjured. At this stage, Von Moger had determined that the Olympia stage was no longer a reality.

“That was going to be off the table for me. That was a really hard pill for me to swallow.”

Lowering Expectations

Even after the second incident, Calum Von Moger worked for several months to recover and return to the gym because of his love for the sport and training. He was fully committed to competing in the NPC and earning his IFBB Pro card in 2020. Of course, that was the start of the pandemic when gyms and the world at large shut down. There were times when Von Moger may have felt doubt and was still dealing with criticism, but he was determined to do what it took to get his pro card.

“I may not have written IFBB Pro in my description, but I really wanted to reach that goal.”

That goal was achieved at the 2020 NPC Universe. With his pro card secured and life appearing to be returning to normal around him, one would think that he would go into 2022 with all the confidence in the world. What one may see outside of him and what he felt inside of him were two completely different things. Like many people who’ve struggled with mental health, Von Moger made a choice he admitted he shouldn’t have.

“I had my struggles with drugs and alcohol,” he shared. “Looking back, I had become a person that I despised.”

As many people that follow him know, other troubles followed. He was involved in a traffic incident that could’ve led him to going to jail. This period of his life culminated in an attempt to end his own life when he jumped out of a window.

“It was going to end in either death or jail. Thank God I was able to avoid both.”

How Bodybuilding and Bucked Up Saved Calum Von Moger

Calum Von Moger would eventually go to rehab for the drug and alcohol issues.  Even though social media could be given a large amount of credit for his fame, he completely tuned it out for almost eight months to focus on what he needed to do for himself and his well-being. When the time was right for him, he recommitted to bodybuilding and was ready to get back to work in the industry as well.

Two immediate aspects he gives substantial credit to for his recovery are the environment and the people he surrounded himself with. Both of those can be credited to Bucked Up. He said he couldn’t speak highly enough about them because of the chance they gave him in spite of all the struggles he faced.

Founder and CEO Ryan Gardner felt that Von Moger deserved an opportunity and support, both of which he and his brother Jeff were able to provide.

“I had known him for quite some time, but my family comes from a religious background. We believe that people can change, and they should be given as many opportunities as possible. People thought we were crazy for bringing him on, but we were ready to give him as many chances as it took. This is more than business. He is like family.”

By the beginning of 2023, he was ready to face the world and start moving forward, but he would deal with another setback through no fault of his own. While he was at the 2023 Arnold Classic, he got word that his brother went missing. His body would be found days later. Even after all the adversity he already faced, this was by far the worst for him.

“My nightmares had come to reality. He took his own life.”

Calum Von Moger’s Brother Found Dead From Suicide

Calum Von Moger admitted he had never been heartbroken like that. Even after everything else he’d been through, nothing could prepare him for that kind of news. That was he considered the “all-time lowest point.” He joined his family in Australia but was in another dark place mentally and had even considered “checking out” himself on more than one occasion. Obviously, he made the right decision. He returned to the United States once he received his work visa. One positive that came out of that experience was that he wasn’t alone while he grieved. Gardner and everyone at Bucked Up supported Von Moger throughout this phase as well.  This was more than a business venture for thme. They wanted to ultimately see him happy more than anything else.

“That was big for me. It showed that they really cared for me. My family was very grateful for them. If it weren’t for them, there’s a chance we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

He’s been receiving positive vibes and kind messages from throughout the fitness industry as well. Knowing there are loyal friends in your corner checking in on him from afar, even during the bad times, has been beneficial for him on those days that he may not feel so positive.

“It’s definitely been reassuring.”

Calum Von Moger Finds Strength In His Tribe

Von Moger found that positive and supportive people was very important for those that are facing similar struggles that he had. He called it finding his tribe. The right environment can also make a profound impact, which was why he relocated to Utah at one point to stay with Gardner and his family.

“I didn’t even tell my fiancée I was going. I just called Ryan and said that I was coming. He told me to stop in St. George and stay with his brother Jeff along the way. They are all lovely people.”

Thanks to the right environment and people and not giving in to negative thinking, Von Moger has managed to stay sober. Even though he still struggled with dark days at times, he has handled those issues much better than in the past.

“Confidence is going through the roof. It has been a beautiful thing.”

Fast forward to 2024 and Calum Von Moger is in a more positive place. He was at the Arnold Classic in March and greeted many fans and supporters, which was another boost he needed. His immediate goal at this stage is to make a more positive difference. We may or may not see back him onstage in the future, but his immediate focus is on sharing his journey and offering how he was able to get through it.

“There are many men and women out there struggling daily, My goal is to be someone who can speak out for the people going through different trials and tribulations or addiction. I want to speak out for them and instill that developing good habits and surrounding yourself by good people can help. Focusing on fitness and the gym is also important. You can rebuild yourself.”

Follow Calum on Instagram @calumvonmoger