Over the coming months, I will be covering a variety of topics regarding my journey from a 17-year-old runt to a high-level competitive bodybuilder, athlete, and trainer to thousands of clients over a 20-year career. I have seen so many mind-boggling situations, some very funny, some sad and tragic. Needless to say, the journey has been like a roller coaster. Some really high highs and some exceptionally low lows. I have seen lives enhanced and lives destroyed. I have seen people make extraordinary money, and I have seen others go straight to the poor house, or worse yet, the morgue or prison. I will share many of these stories over time, not just to inform, but also to entertain people. I have met brilliant people and absolute morons. I have met the most humble people and the most egomaniacal. Suffice it to say, when you get done reading this series, I believe you will have a better understanding of the fitness industry as a whole, performance enhancing drugs, and therefore, as a consumer, be able to make decisions about supplements that may save your life and your health.
How the Journey Began
I have been involved in the subculture of bodybuilding for close to 4 decades. During this time I have witnessed many changes in this arena when it comes to supplements and drugs. When I began lifting weights, it was to get bigger and stronger for football. I boxed from the ages 8-17, and as a result was only 162 pounds in February of my senior year in high school. I was certainly not an imposing man, physically, even though I was a skilled fighter. College coaches showed an interest in me, but said I needed to get bigger to play at that level. So the following Monday, I started doing upper body only workouts at home with the old Joe Weider sand weight sets my friend lent me. It was a rickety ass Marcy bench with about 250 pounds of weight. I measured myself in all the relevant upper body areas of interest to an 18-year male. No, I didn’t include my junk in there! I set about on what I now call my bi’s, flies, and tri’s training program. Low and behold, my body liked weight lifting. I swear to you, in 3 workouts, I measured again the following Monday and my chest was a full inch bigger and my biceps grew half an inch. Needless to say, I was hooked!
Small Fish Big Pond
So I continued on my program and was getting bigger and stronger almost daily. Within weeks, I got my first stretch mark. I thought I broke a blood vessel. Pretty soon, I outgrew my sand weights and it was off to Gold’s Gym to train with my friend’s older brother. He was a monster at 5’9” and 265 pounds. His chest looked like half basketballs. His biceps were 20” cold. I felt like a runt at 185 pounds. He took me under his wing and lets just say the rest is history. He was rough on me. He made me feel like crying a few times. Not due to the toughness of the workouts but more about using solid form. “Stop twisting on the bench!” “Quit arching your back!”, etc. I would try so hard and it just felt like it was never good enough. I left there so many times angry, but I always went back for more. So one day in June, I stepped on the scale and I weighed 204 pounds. I was ecstatic. Under 4 months time, I went from 162 pounds to 204 pounds when I graduated. It was a radical transformation. I owe a lot to big Steve, God rest his soul. I was thrilled at my progress, but I was comparing myself to Steve, and I was just not measuring up. I could bench press 365 pounds, but he did 405 pounds for reps on the bench. What was so different about him? I would later find out and it shocked me.