Reprint From Gear UZR Magazine, Issue #8, Fall 2003.
Since the mid 80's I have been a fan of bodybuilding... I was always a "tomboy" and enjoyed playing sports with my brother and his friends. As a young girl, with only one sibling, an older brother, it pissed me off that I was a girl because the kids in the neighborhood were mostly boys and they always used my girl status against me, especially if I was better than them at something. They even made unique nicknames for me when they realized I was a girl and didn't have breasts yet... the joys of childhood!
I didn't care about the names then and I certainly don't now but we sure do laugh at nature's little joke of correcting that status which, for myself, happened even before I decided to get breast implants for lifting purposes. However, nature is no longer necessary for any correction of childhood nicknames as plastic surgery has changed that forever.
I watched Oprah interviewing top female celebrities the other day and she asked them to recall their favorite memory. They all went blank. I did too. However, as I write this I am recalling a camp moment when I was 12 where the baseball team was co-ed and I was chosen to hit clean up! The decision was a success and I was a champion that day. It felt great, especially because I was better than my older brother that day.
I'm sure he could care less and maybe even disliked the whole thing, but it made my day! Anyone with a sibling close in age can certainly understand the rivalry. My brother and I are 22 months apart with one school year difference between us. Rivalry would be a mild statement until high school when we realized we could help each other out... he could drive me places and I could introduce him to the girls I knew. Anyway, back to my point.
Reading the 2002 GNC Show results I realized that this sport we call Bodybuilding changes so often. Or does it? Is it just the names that change? Is there a difference between today's bodybuilding and the legendary yesteryears? I think there is for a number of reasons but I also think it is important to understand that so much else goes on behind the scenes that people don't know about. I certainly did not know it before we moved to Venice, California and Trevor Smith started Nuclear Nutrition.
I'm not interested in being a rat or sharing dirty little secrets but more in sharing my realization that in bodybuilding, just as in life, many things are not what they seem to be on the surface. So I decided to write an article about bodybuilding myths... some are true, some are false and some are true and false. Nevertheless, let's take a look at some of the myths that seem prevalent to many in the "outer" circle of the sport.
There is a lot of money to be made in bodybuilding.
False! Yes, if you review the winning of top slots, the money seems great, but let's remember that everyone is on top for a limited time only. Let's face it, $100,000.00 is not what it was 20 years ago. Investments are poor, banks offer a max of 2% return on your money on a good day and an average home in a top suburban area is at least $250,000.00. What about the guys that don't place in top slots? They have to spend approximately $5,000.00 to get ready for a show that they may not make any money from.
The contracts are not huge dollars and if it weren't for Mr. Joe Weider, a lot of athletes would not be getting any money at all. And now, with the recent sale of Weider, all of that has changed, and unfortunately, not for the better as there are fewer contracts around than ever before and the amount of money given is much less than it was even 10 years ago.
The problem is, many do not realize this because many bodybuilders-driven by ego will spend whatever money they do make on a cheap apartment, or live off their girlfriend or wife, and spend the majority of their $50,000 dollar contract on a $1,500.00 per month lease for a $100,000 dollar automobile to give off the image of a superstar.
This is sad for many reasons, but the reason I mention it is so people realize that becoming a pro card does not equate to making so much as a single penny in the majority of cases and certainly is not a method of getting rich. The number of "upcoming" national competitors that have this logic is staggering.
Women have an opportunity to make a lot of money competing in Bodybuilding and/or Fitness.
False! There is hardly any money for the women and fitness competitors. Photo shoots usually don't even pay the models. If models are paid, it doesn't usually pay more than $200.00. Many shoots require the girls to bring their own clothing or suits. Fitness stage outfits can range from $100.00 - $500.00. As a fitness model you have to keep your hair, nails, tan and physique ready at all times which can be very costly.
Additionally, many competitors and models are not even getting paid to be at booths signing autographs. If one is under contract, they have to be there and many have to give their photos away for free. I have not heard of any female contract being over $50,000.00 and I believe that those paydays are over now. In fact, Fitness, Figure and Women's Bodybuilding all lose money on their own and are all subsidized by the men's shows, yet there is a whole new slew of girls out there that think, because of the institution of the figure division, are going to get rich and famous by posing in a bikini. These girls need to wake up and smell the coffee.
You have to live in Southern California to be a Pro Bodybuilder.
False! You have to very rich to live in Southern California! A 1,200 square foot house within the 5-mile radius of Gold's Venice will cost you a minimum of $500,000.00 with 1,800 square foot of property! The amenities in the home will be over twenty years old and there is no bargaining!
Bodybuilders get to train for free in all Gyms.
False! Many gym owners, counter clerks and reps don't even know who the pros are and most pay annual fees just like we do! I used to be awestruck when Lee Haney walked into my gym in Maryland and we all knew who he was... we would have paid just to be next to him! I think the gym owner should have rolled the red carpet out for him, not make him get his wallet out! I understand that gym owners need to make money but I do believe a discount is in order...
Even a small company like Nuclear Nutrition cuts breaks to the pros... we certainly can't afford to give product away especially when these athletes are sponsored by other companies so we can't even get publicity for their use of our product, we discount for them purely for respect and courtesy. Unfortunately we don't gain anything from it financially.
Show promoters make boatloads of cash at every event.
False! So much goes into putting on a bodybuilding/fitness event at any level. The only people making money are those that have lost money by making mistakes! My point being that they have all, literally, paid their dues learning the right way to smoothly and successfully run a show. Even then, if people don't buy tickets, the show can lose money. It costs a lot to rent a facility, pay staffing for lighting, photography, ticket production, advertising, stagehands, etc.
I often hear people complaining that the shows are a monopoly and others don't have a chance to do it. This makes me laugh! I strongly suggest they do me a favor and look into it, I promise they won't want the job! For amateurs looking to start competing, I would suggest checking out www.lindsayproductions.com on the West Coast and www.BevFrancis.com on the East Coast.
Only very big supplement companies advertise in all the magazines and all companies who advertise in the major magazines are highly successful with tons of money being made by the owners.
WRONG! If you look through the magazines over the years, you will see that a number of companies don't exist anymore... why? Top magazines cost $10,000.00 per one color page advertisement. That is quite costly for a smaller company. And, yes it may work in the beginning to get people to buy a product one-time. However, if you have limited money and you use is to buy advertising and not on product, the people will not stay with you. It is costly to use supplements and no one wants to spend money on crap. However, I am not saying that the big companies make great products; I am saying that they make enough money to buy the big advertisements and stay in business.
Let me just leave it at this, many of those big company sponsored athletes use Nuclear Nutrition products. These companies know all about our products and have tried to take ideas from us and we use our legal teams for this nonsense, but the bottom line is the larger money-making companies will NEVER spend the per unit cost that we do to produce a product. It does not make dollar sense. I have a degree in business management and I know it does not make dollar sense but our product will never be cheapened for the sake of profit because of Trevor. And look at any other company and tell me that the owners use the products and put on mass weighing 430 lbs. using their product?
Tell me that cancer patients use their product to stay alive? Tell me that they give away product to help needy people? Tell me that they spend 20% of their profits giving back to the sport sponsoring shows instead of advertising? I can honestly say that all of these things I described above exist with Nuclear Nutrition. The supplement industry is a market spending over $2 billion dollars. Do the math and see what companies are sponsoring pro and/or amateur shows. It certainly isn't the number of companies you see with adverts in the big magazines each month and there is a good reason for this.
Sex and bodybuilding... Homosexuals... Swingers... Money for sex.
This area I feel is none of anyone's business. How people live is their own choice. But let's think logically here... if you work hard to make your body beautiful, sculpt it like a fine piece of art, it would make sense that one would be more of an exhibitionist than someone who doesn't work on their body. If a man or woman is gay, wouldn't it make sense that he or she would like to view beautiful physiques rather than an out of shape bodies?
Will that affect the sport? Yes, it will probably add to the fan-base and revenues! Moving to Venice, we were privileged to see and hear many of the rumors not read on the gossip pages. Trevor and I never cared to participate in making fun or taking cheap shots at anyone. We simply don't care to go that route. I think it is important for everyone reading this to realize that everyone is entitled to his or her own private life.
Unfortunately, when you are a bit public in what you do to make a living, your private life is under a closer watch. I can leave it at this... living in Venice is not what you think it is in the bodybuilding scene. It is no different than the Entertainment industry. It is a small group and everyone knows each other... much the same as high school. I went to a large high school and I still managed to know all the gossip. I cared more in high school because I was a teenager, at this point in my lifeâ€¦ Who cares?
Be sure to check out Eric Sattterwhite's article 'You Are A Prostitute!'
Pros are Pros because they get the best drugs for free and use tons of themâ€¦ Male and Female.
False! The 1990 Steroid Prohibition Laws have forever changed the availability of top pharmaceuticals. Some have used a lot of drugs and some have not but the one truth I can say is that NO ONE ever tells the truth about their drug usage and most pros have no concept of training naturally or being off.
I recently spoke to one fitness competitor who said she was "on" for almost four years straight and did not menstruate for four years! Yikes... it cannot feel feminine to exist like that but it is a choice that one makes and becomes a way of existence for many.
Pros Love to Party with fans after Big Shows.
FALSE! After dieting, depleting, being stained from tanning products, signing autographs, attending mandatory meetings and press conferences, competing in pre-judging and routine rounds, the last thing a tired and depleted athlete wants to do at the end of a 14 hour day concluding a stress/anxiety induced weekend is cut loose next to people that don't know them and comment on their physiques or placing's especially when their loved ones have flown in from numerous places to spend time and support them!
You will most likely see the pros eating with their family and friends, having gastro-intestinal cramps from eating foods they have abstained from and going to sleep with their partner. Now the day after, well that can be another story! And after guest appearances or photo shoots that is an entirely different story, too! But please don't be too disappointed if you do not see your favorite competitor living the party life after a show. You may catch the retired athletes and those that didn't compete that day or place very well, but you should remember the emotional and physical stress the competitors endure during this time.
Craig Titus likes to party it up after the shows!
Just attend the show and wish them well, buy a photo to support them and go out and have a great time with your friends! Anyone who has attended the club scene knows that you are only around the small group you came with and that will dictate whether you have a good time. Living in Los Angeles, we have attended parties with Rod Stewart, Lawrence Fishburn, Keanu Reeves, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, Dennis Rodman, Mike Piazza, and the list can go on and on... did we party with them? Technically, yes... but they were in their zone and we were in ours. Had they not been famous names I would not even know they were there and I certainly don't delude myself thinking they cared that I was there.
Animosity and Disrespect for the athletes towards each other.
They all have to train, diet and prepare for a show. They are all part of a fraternity/sorority and hopefully have a level of respect for one another. Hopefully they don't back stab, try to offer lower rates for guest appearances and don't hurt one another. Hopefully, it is all a publicity stunt and way to earn a living. Hopefully they can all go to sleep and feel comfortable with looking themselves in the mirror. I am not here to judge.
I am not an athlete but I can honestly say there have been a number of people whom I think are not nice and unkind takers waiting and expecting to get their just dos. Have they used me? No, I have allowed them to have a part of me that they may not have deserved but that is my learning experience. I don't operate like a street rat because I am not starving like one for money or attention. However some people are starving and never feel like they have enough, so their behavior acts as such. On the other hand, there have been some really nice, warm-hearted people that have made solid footprints on my heart.
After witnessing many competitors training at one point or another in Gold's Venice, I can't say that I have ever been impressed by many or that any stand out in my mind as training so intensely. It may be unfair for me to view one's size and be unimpressed because I am next to my husband so much and at his height and weight (6'1" and well over 400lbs) it is hard to be overwhelmed by anyone's size. But it seems that the general rule for male bodybuilder is to wear two to three shirts while training, add 20 lbs. to their competition weight, add 45 lbs to their off season weight, and two inches to all measurements and subtract five years from their age.
I don't want to even mention the number of hats, bandanas and do-rags in their arsenal to cover the loss of hair they try to hide from everyone! It's so silly! Most would not have lost their hair if they didn't abuse the drugs but its part of the price paid and... I know that I take off my rings and only wear a small watch and tiny wedding band for my minimal weight training. How do these guys wear huge necklaces, bracelets, rings, etc. while they are training? How can they lift effectively in these get ups or move in the five shirts?
In closing, I believe that the yesteryears of bodybuilding are gone and gone for good because of progress... progress in certain areas that have overtaken all other areas. Things change and bodybuilding has changed. Years ago, there weren't any tanning products or steroid prohibitions... the work ethic was different and the rewards were less... the heart and passion were more prevalent. Today's bodybuilders are different. They seem to have a different mind-set.
I am sure that psychologists may have a number of reasons to explain why. I am saddened that it is different because I feel it negates from the integrity of the sport. However, if this is the journey your heart has chosen, you will always feel fulfilled and rewarded regardless of the changes in bodybuilding. I have said this before and remain true to the words that bodybuilding is a solo-flight and is about you comparing yourself to your own gains and goals.
You can contact Trevor with your questions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
For More Information About Nuclear Nutrition, go to www.nuclearnutriton.com
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