Here’s my problem with top level bodybuilding, we all know that you take a hell of lot of gear, big deal, elephant in the room, lets talk.
Today I had the pleasure of meeting arguably one of the greatest bodybuilders of all time, 8 x Mr Olympia Ronnie Coleman. Currently on the Cardiff leg of his world tour he was making a guest appearance at Cardiff Sports nutrition before holding a seminar in Cardiff Uni.
I met up with the Welsh Champ Kenneth Muddola and we headed up Whitchurch Rd to the shop appearance. Cues of around 50 hardened muscle fans plus some girls patiently waited outside in the heat. Ronnie was an hour late for his meet and greet, he was quickly ushered in with bags of merchandise and sat down at his table. His people explained how everything was going to run.
“You may take a photo from a distance on your own camera for free. If you want a photo with Ronnie it will cost £20. We take the photo on our HD camera and email it to you.”
Twenty quid!, I had already spent £25 on my ticket for the seminar. To avoid getting robbed for a second time Kenneth and myself swooped in and collared big Ron before the session started. Faster than you could say ‘Light weight baby” the shot was in the bag. We left soon after slightly disappointed at the scramble for cash. I expected the meet and great to be just that, along side promo for the seminar. Still CSN is a nice shop. I was pleased with my photo.
So home for a meal and a quick wash of the key areas and back out in the convertible to the William Hodge lecture theatre at Cardiff University.
The seminar was highly entertaining perhaps for the wrong reasons.
Again running late the VIP tickets where fist in, perhaps for a cuppa and a digestive with the MR O heavy weight. At 7pm the doors opened, an hour late but that gave us more time to view the new Ronnie Coleman Signature Series (more on this later). So having taken our seats to a sound track of 2 Pac, an introduction to the evenings events was given buy an irritating lady who keep encouraging us to shout ‘Yeah Buddy’ at every opportunity. First up was the Ronnie coleman quiz. I scored none but found out some useful facts about the big man. These included; he used to be a linebacker (American sports?) he has a degree in accounting and he runs a charity that feeds the homeless. With the quiz over we were treated to a posing session from a Ukrainian female physique model/bodybuilder. To be fair she was in great shape. The following talk from her husband was interesting, they had a nice story and she had won many titles. Lovely stuff.
Our next guest speaker was the only female of Muslim background to be competing in physique competition ever? I was irritated by her lack of fitness knowledge and even more annoyed by her constant book plugging. I’m not really sure why she was their? Its great that she is pushing boundaries for Islamic women but it highlights the many issues I have with organised religion which I am not going in to. Next.
Now for a brief interval before the main event. We were told if we wanted a photo with MR O we could pay £20 and have it printed and signed there and then. Daylight robbery. I went for a piss instead.
With all the warm up acts over and done with a Ronnie Coleman montage/greatest hits video was screened for 5 minutes. This showed his development from a teen football player into the roid busting HG snorting Olympian ox like figure we know today. Finally after this and lots cheering “yeahh buddy’
Ronnie Coleman appeared top off gut out hitting shots.
The famous gut!
Ronnie got dressed and greeted the masses (100 people). He began with a brief low down on his life story, his transition from footballer to powerlifter and then to bodybuilder. How he was famously spotted by the owner of Metro Flex and offered free gym membership for life. Lavish stories of Olympia’s gone by and so on. He then opened up the seminar to the crowd asking for questions. They came in thick and fast. What is your favourite body part? How many times a week do you train? what do you eat? Who do you look up too? We learnt that he trains 6 times a week every body part twice a week, powers through injuries, drinks vodka to dry out, lifts heavy ass weights etc.
Then the S bomb was dropped. An intrigued fan asked the very simple question ‘How much have substances such as steroids and growth hormone helped in your development as a body builder?’
The question already assumed he had taken steroids, we all know. You could hear people sucking there teeth. the mood quickly changed. Fair play the lad had balls to ask what is a very good question, would you have achieved Mr O without steroids? Ronnie quick to divert the question retorted with a response that credited his god given genetics to his Olympia success. He then got the room to applaud his lack of drug use.
This was quite a surreal moment. Many in the room have used/use steroids yet they are cheering Ronnie’s apparent lack of test usage? Bollocks! With the topic diverted he swiftly moved on to more standard bodybuilding Q and A.
Now for the interval. Time for a drink some fresh air and soak up the new Ronnie Coleman Signature series of products. The complete stack was a a bargain tour price (50% off) of £80, thats an rrp of £160 for 3 very small tubs of what looked like a pre workout, BCA and a nighttime supplement. Damn pricey, still the 50% off encouraged many. The most baffling product was the night time Resurrect PM. Wildly claiming that Ronnie Coleman trains hard and sleeps even harder (sounds rude). Therefore if you sleep harder you grow more. Agreed most growth occurs at night but the idea that you can sleep hard is an odd one. I take sleeping medication perscribed by a Doctor this knocks me out, I make no conscious decision to work harder at sleeping.
Part two. All back in our seats nice and refreshed it was time for some more Q and A. The questions were starting to dry up a bit, there are only so many questions you can ask about training before things get repeated. There were some really appalling questions, ‘Did you ever look in the mirror and think, I look shit today?’ One asked! More ground was gained on his apparent lack of gear usage, telling us how his nutritionalist would give him powders he knew nothing about, to cut him up and dry him out. Then the second S bomb was dropped. Dave owner of Peak Physique asked to be fair the best question of the night.
“At these events (bodybuilding seminars) you must know that issues such as steroid use are going to come up, do you think its good to discuss these issues?’
Ronnie replied saying that as he was no expert on the matter (horse shit, lies!) and did not want to comment in case he gave some bad advice. He then went on to tell us a story in which Flex Wheeler told him his secrets to success in his hotel room after a show, which he was not willing to share.
A quick posedown and some freebees and the night was over.
Overall I had an entertaining night. I was disappointed the questioning was held back from going deeper in to important issues such as drugs in sport. I found it hard to listen to a man with a vein on his bicep the size of my finger telling me he won the 1998 Mr Olympia clean. My point here is not to highlight Ronnie as a steroid user. Instead I would rather people in his position and with his wealth of knowledge be open about a subject that is too often taboo. On the flipside I understand that he has a reputation to uphold for his sponsors which may put his lively hood in jeopardy, but 8 x Mr Olympia? Come on.