Sunday morning, after a night of the Mr. Olympia finals, and Craig Titus' party, I awoke around 10am, showered quickly, eat a protein bar, and taxied my way to Gold's Gym of Las Vegas, which is about 3 miles away from the Mandalay Bay Hotel. Got there a little after 11am, and walked into the fitness aerobics room for Shawn Ray's All Star Seminar, featuring Lenda Murray, Lee Priest, Susie Curry, Flex Wheeler, Vince Taylor, and of course, Shawn Ray.
I always enjoy seminars, or better yet, the Questions and Answers sessions at the seminars that lets you get to know more intimately the competitors, and their thoughts and knowledge. Sometimes, they can be one of the highlights of the Olympia weekend, especially since many of them competed in the contests, and have their own opinions of why they placed where they placed. This one was no exception, and when I walked into the room, I am surprised at how many people actually come to the seminar. I personally had to sit close to the back of the room.
Here are some thoughts from the seminar.
- Regarding Flex Wheeler: Flex has turned more religious than in the past, having been baptized about a year ago. Flex wanted to prove to himself that he can do the Olympia without the drugs, regardless of whatever people said about him as he was training for the Olympia. Regarding the Olympia callouts.
"I was pissed off that I did not get called out until the 4th or 5th callout. But it was God's will, and that gave me the strength to accept that. I was afraid that people would not be able to accept me the way I was. I got called out with people that I normally do not get called out with, but I accepted it. I went into the show thinking I would place in 2nd, then after the callouts, I came out thinking 4th or 5th."
"It was a double whammy when I got called out in 7th place. It was unreal. Everything stopped for me, like I was in slow motion. I kind of freaked out before I took my first step, but then that moment passed, and I started to walk, an accepted it. I praised God, and started laughing and smiling. God really caused me to look inside me with the 7th place finish. He tested me. I went in 100% drug free. Regardless of what anyone says, Jesus is with me all of the time. Everywhere. I did not take any illegal drugs, and He would know."
Currently, Flex is working on a new video, and also a new book, titled 'Flex Appeal', which will talk about various issues in his bodybuilding and personal life. Flex is also a grandfather, with 4 kids, and 2 grandchildren.
- Regarding Susie: Curry: Susie currently is competing less often, but still winning every show. She is the number one fitness competitor, and probably, the number one of all time with her three Fitness Olympia wins. Susie enjoying spending time with her family, and she is a very competitive person, and she would have been happy with 2nd or 3rd place also. Susie trains all year round, as she is in a gym all day long. Susie has chosen to be in that lifestyle, and it is a year round commitment.
- Regarding Lenda Murray: Lenda promoted her first show this year. Regarding the prize money, and women's bodybuilding, Lenda does not agree with Wayne DeMilia about the sport, and there should be a way to revive women's bodybuilding. For preparing for the Ms. Olympia this year, Lenda worked with Chad Nicholls. Regarding the Ms. Olympia.
"I did not come back just to win a record 7th title. To do this, it has to be in your head. You have to be hungry. Eating 5 times a day chicken breast and green beans is not very appealing. I needed to take a step back. I took time off to be with family and friends. It was great. But to get back into the contest mode, you need to focus on just the contest, create a sort of tunnel vision to reach your goal."
As soon as I see any veins, I think to myself, that it looks too much masculine. It is hard to get ready for the contest, mentally, to be in that perfect shape."
- Regarding Vince Taylor: Vince was asked a question about the tempo and momentum of his training. Vince answered by saying that he has no clock and no reminders. Intensity is what he has that day. The training should be flowing naturally; time is about no speed, it is about just taking his time to get it down. There is no set training times for Vince.
Vince also talked about the stage presence of a competitor, and why he is such a good poser. It is because he feels the vibrations of the audience; and he flows with the power. When you have the attention of the audience, you can do wonders. Vince also expressed his dismay at Kamali's Terminator routine, noting that he had used a similar routine in the early 1990's.
- Regarding having your name associated with a brand or a product. How real is that?
This, of course, is a tougher question to answer because these athletes are normally sponsored by various supplement companies. The opportunity to survive in this game is endorsements, so ridiculing the company you are sponsored for is not a good things. Therefore, you need to be sponsored by a company that you believe in. Which, when you need a sponsorship, is sometimes difficult to do. An ethics issue.
"It is hard when sometimes a company that you are sponsored with says you did something when you did not; said you used some products when you did not. A protein is a protein. Most athletes will not lie to you about the products".
"To get a contract with a sponsor, a supplement company, you need to be marketable, and learn marketing skills. You need to have some value for the sponsors to want to work with you."
- Regarding the Judging Criteria and other issues:
Shawn Ray believes that having a wide range of champions from various shows, as we did in 2002, is a good thing. Each contest can have a different style with lots of different judges, which makes for a more interesting Olympia. At one time, before Ronnie Coleman was Mr. Olympia, Shawn said that he was 100-1 odds of winning the show outright. Ronnie Coleman proved Shawn Ray wrong. You just never know, and never go into a contest prejudging a competitor.
"People should also give the competitors constructive criticism, not just someone sucked. Regarding Nasser El Sonbaty, Nasser is a great competitor, but he just burned himself at the Olympia. Nasser should just take a step back and relax for a while."
"It is absolutely amazing that the judges at the Olympia contest sit 20 rows back from the stage, after photographers, and other people. It is the only pro bodybuilding show that they are so far back. They need to be closer to compare details, etc."
- Afterwards, Flex Wheeler, Lenda Murray, and Lee Priest got into a posing match for us, just to show the fans up close how great they really are. Then Lee and Flex took off their shirts (Lenda declined), and put on a show for us. It was really cool. All of the pro competitors took their time talking to the fans and took pictures.
A few personal items were raffled away, including Shawn Ray giving someone there a trip to the Ironman in Los Angeles in February 2003! That was pretty cool. In the end, it was definately worth the time and admission cost to listen to these great athletes.
Of course, there was a lot more questios and answers, and stories that were told, but you need to go to the seminar to hear all of them. And thank god for the juice bar at Gold's, where I got a great chocolate banana protein shake. It made my morning!