I have written many articles and talked on many of Ric's Corner about our training and diet but this is a different perspective of Arnold and how he was back in the Golden Era of Bodybuilding.
I'd like to briefly start at the beginning to establish how and when I met Arnold. In 1970, mid year I had been training at Bill Pearl's Gym in Inglewood and getting great results. I didn't know much about Gold's in Venice as it hadn't really been put on the map yet, but a few of my friends suggested that we go there and train. After maybe close to a year at Pearl's I decided to make the leap, move to Santa Monica from Torrance and join Gold's Gym.
I remember walking into the door and seeing some of the greats and coming face to face with Arnold. At that point he wasn't really very well known except for some photos in the magazines. We quickly became friends and started doing some chest and back workouts together. We were on the same page with training and even better than that with humor as well. Those there were, Giuliani, Draper, Zane, Waller and many more.
Although the workouts were hard and grueling we also had fun kidding around during our training. Training is supposed to be fun, so we made it that way.
Arnold trained hard and there were no secrets to making gains other than pounding out the sets and reps with some good heavy weights. Of course those days were prior to injuries so it was much more pleasurable to train. People think we had secrets to our training but it really was just basic exercises for each body part, however the sets and reps were intense and heavy.
Arnold liked to vary the exercises and sets and pretty much throw in various exercises weekly to change things up, however the sets and reps pretty much stayed the same. We would compete in Bench Press since Arnold always liked to be the best but I always had a slight edge on that lift and my best was 455 and I think his was around 440 lbs.
ARNOLD & RIC doing BENCH PRESSES
Supplements were limited so most was based on eating real food and good food. High protein, high fat and limited carbs. There were no cardio machines and cardio was pretty much maybe a run on the beach at times.
Arnold had the personality and charisma to attract people and loved every minute of it. He was very good at getting attention and very attentive to others, which made them feel comfortable. Although he was huge and imposing, his personality was the opposite. Arnold had that winning personality and I don't believe losing was even in his vocabulary. He tackled everything with confidence and the expectation of getting what he wanted. When he would walk into the back door of the gym, everyone would notice. I think at that time he was around 260 lbs and huge!
Arnold was also very generous in helping others. He introduced me to Rheo Blair who at that time was the Guru of supplements and famous for his Blair's Protein which was the best around and the most expensive. He set me up with Blair to do modeling with product ads in exchange for free supplements. Every month I could load up and this was due to Arnold.
One day Arnold had mentioned to me that he had a movie audition in Burbank that night and asked if I would go with him, as there may be a role for me. I agreed and later that night we drove up to it. The dialogue was more or less complicated as if biblical and hard to read. Arnold stumbled over the words and laughing as I was.
The producers didn't really care because they liked Arnold anyway. We got back into the car and Arnold asked what I thought about it and I told him that he sucked and should forget acting or work on some lessons. Little did I know what he'd develop into. I don't think that particular film every came about.
Arnold wasn't shy but a little concerned with his English and always liked to have someone around him. Rheo Blair set him up on a date with this girl and again he asked me to come with him to the Café Figueroa in West Hollywood. I went along and she was very stunning. He dropped me off then took her home and the next day told me that she didn't turn him on physically, as there were a few things wrong with her body. I laughed and won't repeat what he said, but I would've taken her at that time.
He wouldn't take no for an answer on any level and had extreme confidence when asking for something I took ride with him out to Joe Weider's office to collect some money from Joe for expenses. When we got there he asked Joe for a check and Joe basically tried to hold him off, when Arnold reached into Joe's jacket, pulled out the check book, filled out a check and then said, 'Joe, sign it." Of course Joe did. Arnold was very persistent on what we wanted and Joe loved Arnold so it worked out ok.
Arnold was a great negotiator and would make deals with companies around the world to use his name as it grew. He'd get supplements, cars and just about anything he'd ask for. He was basically the only bodybuilder that I knew that could pull it off with charm. His charm was the key to his greatness. He could charm anyone out of anything and people really liked him. Bodybuilders today could really learn from this, as I haven't seen anyone like him since.
He was also good about helping people out in the gym that he didn't even know. However his sense of humor would get away from him. He took one of the gym members up to the dressing room and had him pose somewhat naked, screaming when he'd flex his biceps and growling going into a most muscular shot. It was really funny and to boot, he also had the guy pose and rub down with motor oil. He really liked to goof on people. It was told me that in Europe he suggested to someone if they wanted to gain to use a tremendous amount of salt every day on their food. I believe this guy ended up in the hospital. All of this was meant in fun and not to hurt anyone and I don't think anyone knew the repercussions of jokes like this. This is just what we did back in those days.
The way acting came up was there was a pay phone on the wall at the gym. This was basically the gym business phone but it was a pay phone. Calls began coming in from the studios looking for bodybuilders. At that time, I'd answer the phone and take the calls and tell the guys about auditions. Arnold, Me, and several others booked a Chevy commercial which shot in Malibu. They cut our hair for the spot, which we shot in one day for $1000. This was a lot of money back then. From that point, Arnold and I out of everyone else got agents and pursued other auditions, booking some and others not. Many TV and film jobs came from that pay phone and we were the only bodybuilders around at the time so the job was always ours.
I think Arnold found his love at that point and thought that acting would be the thing for him. He had a vision of where he could take it and rubbed shoulders with the right people. Doors opened for him and again his charm got him through those doors to greater things. He studied his acting and put his best effort into it. His popularity grew and he grew with it. Bodybuilding was his main love and he still competed in the Olympia while pursuing acting but could handle the multi-task very well. His drive and focus and discipline were beyond the average person and these were the attributes that put him over the top.
He would attack everything like he did with his training. He trained hard, ate right and saw the big picture he was going after. Discipline was the key because the end result was so good. He paid his dues and worked hard towards every success that he had. It wasn't just handed to him. He had a language barrier and had to become a citizen of the U.S. He was new to this country and had to fit in, but he made it work and the gym was the starting point for him.
On the week ends we would all go to the Marina for the nightlife and meet girls. He stood out among the rest due to his huge size but we also did as well as there were very few bodybuilders around. Women would come up and talk to us and his accent really caught them. They were entranced by it. Our hang out was Zucky's Deli and everyone there knew us and he began dating the hostess at the time. His sense of humor was really sharp and very quick. Every night we would go for a cheese omelette to finish off the evening with protein.
Success in bodybuilding went to success in films and meeting influential people that he befriended that were impressed with him. He worked his way in with the Kennedys and married one of them. Who else would be able to do that and then begin a career in politics? At that point there was a divider in the road and he went off in a different direction and a different group of people around him, just as it changed again with the politics. Every once in a while he would show up at a memorial for one of our friends, and it was the same old Arnold around us as just one of the guys. That side of him stayed the same, which was refreshing.
He's the only person that we know that has succeeded in all three things, from Bodybuilding and had one of the best bodies in the world, to film with one of the largest box office draws, to Politics and become a Governor. This took a lot of work, study and knowledge. No one handed it to him, he worked hard for it. Whether he was good at or not, he did it and got the attention of the world. His name is a household name anywhere on this globe.
Now after all those years and all the accomplishments, Arnold has always kept his roots, friends and love for bodybuilding. He's back at it promoting the shows, fitness lifestyle and doing what he loves best. He's an amazing man to accomplish what he has and a motivation to many in the world. Every now and then he shows up down in Venice on his bike and kids with the people down there. It's nice to see that he still knows his roots.
My Mom who lived till the age of 97 always told her friends of the time that I brought Arnold over to her house and she made dinner for him. He and my grandmother were from the same city and it was quite a fun night and they had a lot to talk about.
Everything goes full circle in life and here I am writing about my former training partner and hopefully in the the near future I will also interview him on my show, Ric's Corner and we will have many memories to talk and laugh about.
ARNOLD & RIC doing TBAR ROWS
ARNOLD and RIC at the JIM MORRIS MEMORIAL
HISTORY OF THE GOLD'S GYM LOGO