One of the true legends in the sport, Dave has been called by Arnold "the original Golden Boy of bodybuilding" and by Serge Nubret "the nicest guy in the sport." He was a famous international star in the 60s and early 70s, with titles including Mr. Universe, Mr. World and Mr. America.
He built an estimable movie career and had a house on the beach - "the whole bit," as he says - but then voluntarily gave up all of this and moved to the Santa Cruz mountains. "I was always introverted and insecure," Dave explained, "so I felt happier living simply, away from the hustle and bustle, doing my training and custom woodworking."
Finally, just in the last several years Draper resurfaced, working at Harry Jenkins' Spa Fitness Center in Santa Cruz, representing Serious Lifting Systems and working with Dr. Carlin Venus' Super Spectrim Food Supplement Company. In what he calls "a stroke of good fortune," Laree Baker, a talented photographer and business manager, came to him at the Spa Fitness Center for 1-on-1 training.
They met, merged in business, and shortly thereafter merged in marriage. The union is a happy one, with each bringing out the finest qualities in the other. Their business, called "On Target with Dave Draper," includes:
In recent months, however, their efforts have all been redirected - "consumed, actually" - toward opening their own gym, the newly remodeled 10,000 square foot World Gym in Santa Cruz.
The gym opened in late Fall of 1989. Some of Dave's many friends in the business were at the opening, and others - including Tom Platz and Mike Christian - came by in the next few months. Arnold said the only time he could come was in February, so the Drapers held a party then "in honor of Arnold and the gym members."
The Arnold party was a real bash, with a packed house, tables of healthful food, and luminaries in attendance including Joe Gold, Ed Giuliani, actress Grace Jones, Scott Wilson and his World Gym partner Mark Reifkind, Ed Corney and Zabo Koszewski. Dave and Laree and their partners - John Ferrara and John Geringer - wanted the gym to be "solid, bold and mighty."
It looks that way, with gray, white, red and black decor, clean lines, tons of free weights, and plenty of machines. The popular favorite of the framed pictures and posters on the walls shows Dave with his face tremendously contorted as he's doing a press behind the neck, with Arnold spotting him.
Draper, still characteristically shy and retiring, says he's "very happy" with the gym. "It's not complete yet," he says. "There's still more work to do. And it's not a showplace. It's a place for serious training."
Talk to Dave even briefly and you sense not only his kindness and graciousness but also his deep love for bodybuilding ("inbred to the bone in me," he says) and his seriousness about the sport, the latter reflected in his motto "Get Serious" which is on his T-shirts and is the title of his book.
Certain key words and phrases keep popping up in Dave's conversations and writings:
- Positive Attitude
- Mind/Body Coordination
They're also imbedded in Dave's tips - or what he calls "keys" - to successful training:
DAVE DRAPER'S SEVEN KEYS TO SUCCESSFUL TRAINING
1. REALISTIC GOALS - Set realistic goals for yourself, based upon realistic, dispassionate self-evaluation. Yes, your goals should be lofty, but they also should be within reach.
2. PLANNED TRAINING ROUTINE - Plan an orderly, thorough routine to train your entire body. Don't just go into the gym and do things haphazardly. If you do that, your body development will likewise be haphazard. Plan and know what you're going to do.
3. 4-5 WEEK COMMITMENT - Make a commitment to stick to your training routine for four or five weeks. In that length of time you'll begin to see changes and realize some benefits. You'll also be developing perseverance and creating good training habits, including the following:
4. ENTHUSIASM - Recognize that your enthusiasm for training is the main, driving force that will help you perform successfully.
5. THOUGHTFUL NUTRITIONAL PLAN - Bolster your training program with a well thought-out nutritional plan. This is important, since the food you eat is your daily training fuel and building material. Just a few simple guidelines make good nutrition pretty basic and easy to follow:
Make intelligent food choices. You need complete protein for leaner muscle and tissue growth (Example: lean cuts of beef, skinless poultry, fish, nonfat dairy products, and beans), complex carbohydrates for energy (Example: whole grains, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables), and vitamins and minerals (found in all of the above foods) for the body's chemical activities. Avoid fast foods, junk foods, preservatives (particularly sodium nitrites), alcohol, salt, and refined sugar. Drink plenty of water.
Eat small meals during the day. This will improve your energy level, provide for muscle repair, minimize the storage of fat, and assist in the absorption of nutrients. Eat larger, heartier meals earlier in the day and leaner, smaller meals as the day ends.
Eat a small meal no less than one hour before your workout to provide the body with energy and muscle - building protein and carbohydrate.
6. REST - Get plenty of sleep and rest. Your body needs time for recuperation, repair and growth.
7. CONFIDENCE - Have confidence from the beginning and throughout your training that the application of these sound principles will produce the desired results. You will be slowly but surely building a foundation from which you will gain momentum, energy and spirit.
Dave certainly is not one of those "Do as I say but not as I do" individuals. He follows these principles to the letter. He trains with 100% concentration and intensity. "I won't accept anything less," he says. "I'm hard on myself." He characteristically begins each morning's session with some aerobics and ab-midsection work. "This gets the body warmed up and stretched," Dave explains, "raises the heart rate, and also gives me an opportunity to sort through the thoughts of the day and clear my mind."
Dave's Aerobic and Endurance Exercises
Dave's Ab/Midsection Exercises:
Roman Chair Situps
Twist and Side Bends
Hanging Leg Raises
The result of Dave's application of his seven keys to successful training is magnificently sculpted body, with muscle maturity and grace. "But I certainly don't know everything yet," Dave says self-effacingly. "I'm always learning. Even after 35 years in bodybuilding and over 10,000 workouts, I feel like I'm just now getting an education in the sport. I train hard, feel great and thank God."