RIVER EDGE, N.J. — Adam Dubanowtiz of River Edge catches a glimpse of his abs through the cut of his tank top in the mirror at the gym and pauses.
He paces toward himself admiring what he sees, but never for a second does he forget where he came from.
Two years ago, the 26-year-old model lacked the confidence to even step foot in a gym and instead resorted to push-ups and pull-ups at home.
Things have certainly come full circle for Dubanowtiz, who is prepping for an elite body building competition on April 1, the John Kemper Classic, and he wants more than anything to earn his pro card.
But there's more to fitness than what meets the eye, Dubanowitz explained.
"I finally believe in myself," Dubanowitz said. "Working out gave me guidance. I feel like I've found true happiness."
The personal trainer's fitness journey began when he was 18 and looking simply to "move some heavy weight around," he said.
"I used to be really insecure.
I had no confidence and had no idea who I was as a person."
Exercise soon became a stress reliever for Dubanowitz, who dropped out of William Paterson University when he was 20 for a full-time job at ShopRite in Paramus.
Dubanowitz had built enough confidence by 2015 to join Retro Fitness Hackensack with a week guest pass, where he met the photographer who he said changed his life.
"[Bart Ruzik] approached me and wanted to do a test shoot," said Dubanowitz, formerly of Ringwood and Garfield. "I was extremely flattered. He saw something in me. I inspired him."
Things began snowballing after the shoot, and he enjoyed seeing his hard work in the gym transpired onto film.
But he was still working more than 70 hour weeks at ShopRite and realized his quality of life was slowly fading because of it.
"It gave me good life experience but I felt like I was getting beat down every day," Dubanowitz said.
I knew one day I was going to wake up and hate my life.
And so, he quit. The first few months of unemployment were tough. But after Dubanowitz built up his portfolio and threw himself into working as a personal trainer, money started coming in.
The model has been began landing photo shoots across the country for several magazines including "DNA Magazine," "Fashionably Male" and more. He's even picked up more than 25,000 followers on Instagram.
Dubanowitz says he's living true freedom, but his goals have shifted to helping others achieve the same.
"You have to find what you're passionate about and let it take you somewhere," Dubanowitz said. "I want to make people feel good about themselves."
EMAIL ADAM DUBANOWTIZ FOR INQUIRIES AT ADUBANOWITZ6@YAHOO.COM.