Friday nights are usually reserved for ‘quality time’ for My Champ and I. 9 out of 10 times this usually involves watching something on Netflix. This past Friday I had suggested we watch ‘Pumping Iron’. For those of you that don’t know, Pumping Iron was documentary-style film made in 1975 showcasing the then-bizarre world of bodybuilding. The film’s main star, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the highlight featured as he was in preparation for his 6th Mr. Olympia win in Pretoria, South Africa. He was then, and arguably still is the most famous bodybuilder in the world. This was My Champ’s first time seeing the film, and likely my 6th or 7th. It still gives me goosebumps when I watch it.
Growing up in my childhood home, my bedroom had this very large bookshelf. My parents kept many of the family photo albums and cherished books in this shelf. I distinctly remember being about 10 years old, and snooping in the section of the shelf where the books were kept. There I found my Dad’s copy of the 1977 version ARNOLD: The Education of a Bodybuilder. I flipped through the pages in complete awe. I loved how muscles looked! Although I knew absolutely nothing about bodybuilding in my tender youth, I knew that Arnold had quite the aesthetically pleasing physique. The attraction was not of a sexual nature, but more of a keen interest and admiration in how one could transform their body in such a way. Not only was I impressed with his appearance, I also became intrigued with the information provided regarding exercise and nutrition. Though there have been many changes to what constitutes a ‘proper’ bodybuilding diet over the years, it was obvious that to look like a beast you would have to eat and train like one! Even today (as I still have the copy in my possession) I admire the confident, no-bullshit approach Arnold had toward his craft. In order to be the best, you have believe you are the best: feed yourself with the best, train with the best, practice the best, sleep the best, always question ways you can be BETTER. I believe this applies to anyone and everyone trying to get ahead in life, no matter the goal.
It was around this same point in time that I also became infatuated with Madonna. For a female singer/actress, the girl was RIPPED! I actually remember watching one of her music videos while my cousin was baby-sitting me, and I uttered “I want to look like that when I grow up.” Sure, Madonna has done some things in her past that are maybe questionable for a young girl to view her as a role model- but the impact she had on me as a confident, strong, independent female was huge. She was fierce. She was intimidating. I just remember loving the flow of the muscles in her arms: the visible delts, the separation of biceps, the veins in her forearms… I wanted all that. I loved that she made no secret that her appearance took much discipline through diet and training.
Many people have celebrity heroes from their childhood, and mine were Arnold and Madonna. So I guess it makes sense that I would eventually fall into the world of bodybuilding and fitness. I knew I’d never be a model for Vogue or Elle, but I knew in my heart I had what it took to be a fitness competitor. It was my desire, my passion, my everything to pursue the sport I grew up admiring. And although I’m not being displayed on a stage anymore, I’m still very much all about challenging myself to my absolute physical limits. Everyone has a ‘why’ as to how they started, and it’s important to always remember what that ‘why’ is. Keep going, because truly anything is possible 😉