It’s all my own fault, I know. I have nobody to blame but myself. I’m the one who decided to spend 20 years lifting heavy slag and stuffing myself with copious amounts of steak and potatoes to get to 300 pounds. So when I fly, I totally understand that I am the guy nobody wants to sit beside.
As I walk through the airport, I get the usual looks that a 300 pound bodybuilder gets, and I just ignore most of what is going on around me and keep my ear buds in. My travel soundtrack always makes my trips tolerable. However, as I arrive at my gate, and I choose a place to sit and put my cooler down, I see that the others around me are thinking “That guy’s on MY flight”, and I know they are hoping they don’t get stuck sitting beside me.
I always wait for most of the others to board first. It’s just easier since I always have an aisle seat, so I tend to board with the final group of stragglers. As I walk onto the plane, I can see every person with an empty seat beside them looking at me with hope in their eyes. As I get closer to them I can see them doing the math on me, versus whoever is boarding behind me. They know they are getting stuck with one of us. If I pass them, I can sometimes see the relief in their faces. It’s the exact opposite when I stop and take my seat.
Three feet wide at the shoulders. Six feet tall. My body radiating enough heat to make YOU sweat. Big elbows and knees sticking out all over the place, which you will just LOVE while I eat my meal beside you out of a giant glass tupperware dish full of chicken, rice, and veg (which I had heated up at one of the food court stops before boarding, so it’s steaming too). Hope you think it smells good because I’m a slow eater.
My hips fit in the seat fine, but the rest of me just explodes out of my “space” in all directions. Gotta have that aisle seat to stick my leg out so my knee doesn’t ache. After this many years of training, asking for an aisle seat on the right side of the plane, is just travel planning 101. My other knee might push into your space if my bottles of water and Diet Coke take up too much of the knee room when I stick them in the back of the seat ahead of me.
The arm rest is mine too. Not because I’m a jerk and I’m going to take it, but because it’s practically impossible to not have my elbows on both of my arm rests. Sorry for changing your channel 20 times while I slept, digging my elbow into your controls.
To prevent me from getting even hotter and making life miserable for both of us, it’s probably in your best interest to let me have your little air vent up above us. You know the little adjustable one. Ya, I’ll just point all three of them towards my head and torso, thank you very much. Trust me.
Now, of course there are passengers less desirable than myself to get stuck sitting beside, like the ones who are actually fatter than I am big. More often than not there are a few of them, especially when flying within the US. I used to almost always be the biggest guy on the plane, but rising obesity rates have really helped me out there.
Really tall guys, like 6’4” and up, they aren’t too popular. I was on a plane with an entire basketball team once. A real US College team. I wound up sitting with a dude who was 6”10”. I felt like I fit really well compared to him. He was terrible to sit with. About 30 minutes into the flight, a flight attendant actually moved some people and I wound up with a really petite young woman beside me, and he got to sit in an aisle seat across the way.
Obviously, anyone really sweaty (bad hygiene sweaty, not sexy hot yoga sweaty), smelly, or crazy looking is going to be on the list too. Sometimes I get lucky and there are so many undesirables that I actually start to look pretty good as a seat mate. Flights out of cities like LA and Vegas are sometimes like that.
One thing is for sure, I always fly clean. Showered and smelling as pleasant as possible. I’ve encountered some very inconsiderate travelers in that regard. I sat with a guy once from Vegas to LA that smelled like vomit and rum. On the flight home from the 2010 North Americans, I sat beside a guy who was at least 6’6”, 330 pounds of fat, dressed in a sweater with a shirt and tie underneath, and he smelled of B.O. so fucking bad I swear it was a mental endurance test to even sit beside him for takeoff. The flight attendant even came by soon after we took our seats, and gave me a look of sympathy and mouthed the word “sorry”.
As soon as we got in the air and leveled out, I stood up and went to the back to stand by the bathroom for the rest of the flight. I was horrified to realize that being pressed against the fat smelly guy soaked the shoulder of my shirt. It was gross, and he smelled terrible. My sympathetic flight attendant even let me sit in her seat for some of the trip.
Of course, no article on flying at 300lbs would be complete without addressing the one thing so many people ask me about. “Ron, can you take a dump on a plane?” Well, technically yes I can, if I NEED to. I have done what I’ve had to do many times, however, part of my travel ritual is to try to make sure that is avoided.
I remember one time I was in Calgary waiting to catch a flight to Montreal. I had an RCMP undercover officer show me his badge and ask me to step to the side with him. He started asking me where I was coming from, and where I was going. Immediately, the freedom loving, anti-authority part of me shut him down. I told him that since I had done nothing wrong and was not being detained, I was going to refuse all further questions, and did not consent to any searches. He immediately knew he had to let me walk. I spent the next few hours feeling singled out and angry. However, it did dawn on me that I was pacing around a lot while waiting at the gate. I also sat down in three different chairs, and kept getting up and moving due to annoying kids, or smelly people. Also, I made three trips into the bathroom.
Every guy knows the deal....you cruise into a public bathroom and you have that little conversation with yourself. “Should I try to shit here? There’s even a big clean handicap stall! Maybe I should wait and just do it on the plane when I’m ready. If I try now it might be disappointing and I’ll have to go later anyways. Maybe I should come back in ten minutes. I’ll go eat half a meal and drink some water, then come back before I board.”
I could see how I appeared suspicious to an undercover officer....however, I was just really hoping to take a good shit before boarding the plane!
Travel safe everyone......
If there’s one thing bodybuilding fans all have in common is their never ending need to bitch and moan about something. If it’s not a fan bitching about Kevin English winning another NY Pro, then it’s Toney Freeman calling out the entire pro league for being unjust.
Synthol in the biceps or Kai Greene snubbing Ron Noreman on contest prep all stir up controversy in the sport. But what really has the fans bitching and moaning is the great debate of 90’s bodybuilders vs. today’s bodybuilders. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, although mine is usually right, but what really separates todays pros vs. a 90’s pro isn’t striated glutes or lumpy calves Flex Wheeler, it’s good old fashion charisma. Love him or hate him, Mr. Big Banners/Bright Lights Shawn Ray knew how to stir up some shit. You would have thought the guy had a staff of WWE writers doing his material. He took shots at Dorian, Flex, Nasser, and Jurassic Paul Dilette and only spared those with physiques similar to his classic yet much smaller structure.
Before Shawn captivated fans, the sport only had the legend himself, Arnold, to keep people entertained not only with his iconic physique, but the personality that later made him one of the most polarizing international celebrities of all time. Arnold was the Muhammad Ali of bodybuilding. He would beat his opponents mentally long before anyone oiled up and stepped on a bodybuilding stage.
It’s hard to believe, but by the 2013 Mr. Olympia it will have been 8 years since Ronnie Coleman took home his 8th Sandow. Now talk about a guy with a charismatic personality. Only the Big Nasty comes out for his night show posing routine wearing a king’s robe and crown with the Lion King sound track in the background. Parking lot lunges in 110 degree Texas heat wearing bright yellow spandex still weighing 310lb just weeks prior to winning the Mr. O. And still years after even stepping foot on a stage the guy still has the longest line at any expo he attends. Ronnie has a knack for making any stranger feel like his old friend. Yeah Buddy!
And where do we sit today? Taking a look at the top half of the IFBB pro league there is a lot left to be desired in terms of charisma. I love physiques like Shawn Rhoden and Dexter Jackson, but man they might just be the two chillest dudes on the planet. Half the time you wouldn’t know if they were asleep even with their eyes wide open. Dennis Wolf has a lot of potential but half of his interviews I feel like he doesn’t really quite understand the questions people ask and ends up answering everything the same, “I need to eat more carbs sometimes yeah, and uh yeah it is good, and yeah I’ll be bringing up my lower back more, umm yeah so I make improvements, and uh get Top 3, yeah…haha”. And every time I listen to Branch I’m not sure if he’s going to choke slam the cameraman or throw a 200lb dumbbell at some kid for not being intense enough.
Now don’t get me wrong there are some characters amongst us in bodybuilding. Ben Pakulski tried to talk a little trash to Branch at the Olympia press conference. I’m not sure if it was all for the upcoming docudrama movie, Generation Iron, due out in summer of 2013, but it was an attempt at showing his personality. Toney Freeman has no trouble giving his opinion or showing his charisma, but sometimes I think he sees himself as the Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction of the bodybuilding world, “Say what again, say what again, I dare you, I double dare you mother fucker say what one more goddamn time.”
Kai Greene is incredibly charismatic with a huge fan base. As Dave pointed out on Heavy Muscle Radio, the guy almost thrives on controversy and drama. Only Kai would buy 2 rooms at the Olympia and shuffle back and forth to avoid his two guru’s running into one another. The problem with Kai is when the bright lights are on him he tends to shut down. When he gets asked questions at the Olympia presser such as, “Kai do you think you can beat Phil this year?” and responds with a solitary, “yes”, he is just provoking the fans to root against him. He has to seize those opportunities when they arise.
And then there’s Phil Heath. He’s very interesting if you’re curious about his new pair of Jordan’s, what color his Beats by Dre headphones are or when he’s going to be getting his mani and pedi for the week. But outside of being well spoken and gracious to his fans he could be much better in front of the camera if he chose to be.
The ironic thing is that the on-air personalities on RxMuscle, Dave and Aaron, have much more charisma than the vast majority of the athletes they cover. Imagine if Rx had the same deep pockets to spend on athletes that Flex and MD have. With their personalities they could almost groom the pro’s the way an acting coach or public relations professional would assist a celebrity in becoming more likeable to their fans.
Click over to MD, the once charismatic Shawn Ray now gives the least in depth and lackluster interviews and contest previews I have ever seen. Back when Flex Wheeler was doing interviews if you closed your eyes he sounded like Randy Jackson from American Idol – you know what I mean ‘dawg’, not exactly someone you can listen to for more than 3 minutes.
Maybe one of the fan favorites like Evan or Kai can take the lead amongst the charismatic pros, unfortunately, what draws so many fans to them is there enigmatic personalities. With any luck we’ll see a new side to the bodybuilders in next summer’s movie, but until then we’ll have to wait until Mike Pulcinella or Zhasni create another fabricated entertaining masterpiece of our athletes.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattMeinrod
They say the competition is won during the off season and in the last ten days. A simplistic statement, but it does bear some truth. Now, if I could only go from my off-season to 10 days out and win a competition I would be onto something!
Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that. Contest preps vary in length. Some preps last 20 weeks, some preps last 8 weeks. My prep goes for 16 weeks. In effect, I’m looking at 14 weeks and 4 days that aren’t accounted for in the insightful quote I started this article with. During these 14 weeks and 4 days the contest is also won, or lost. The power behind the quote lays in the fact that most people don’t “push” hard enough in their off season. They don’t eat enough. They aren't meticulous enough in their nutrition. How is this relevant to my prep? Well, the last 10 days… since starting on Wednesday, November 21st I will be 10 days out. The important thing here is to not do anything crazy. Keep on point, the hard work has been done, the mortar and bricks have been laid. Some people get caught up in crazy schemes to get “shredded” or to lose that “Water” - I got news for you… it probably isn’t water. That is how you can lose a show in the last 10 days.
What are my concerns you ask? I have a plethora of thoughts hounding through my skull at all hours of the day when it comes to this. What it boils down to are the following:
1. I want to be the most conditioned athlete at the show;
2. I want to maintain as much size and shape and still accomplish #1;
3. Win my class;
4. Win the whole damn show.
That pretty much sums it up. Everything else I place my trust in PJ Braun to dial me in correctly, as he has never failed me before. I place my faith in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I place my love for all my friends and family who have supported me and my lovely girlfriend Sabrina Taylor. My sponsor FUSION BODYBUILDING, whom I consider to be part of my family now. My new family at Rx Muscle (Dave, Aaron, Sally, Bryan) who I am looking forward to growing with in 2013.
It’s 10 days out and it is just a matter of following the plan laid out. I will bring the best Louis Uridel that has ever stepped on stage before.
Do Work, Stay Sexy… and always… Stay Sucka Free.
NATIONAL PHYSIQUE COMMITTEE AND GASPARI NUTRITION ANNOUNCE AUGUST ATHLETES OF THE MONTH
PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA (November 19, 2012) - The National Physique Committee and Gaspari Nutrition have selected seven competitors as NPC Athletes of the Month for the month of August. Mustafa Kabbani, Tiffany Upshaw, Crystal Wong, Janet Gerber, Jesus Burgos, Margie Martin and Angela Stueber all were honored for standout performances during the month.
All of the athletes will be profiled on the NPC News Online and will receive free product from Gaspari Nutrition.
Each month, NPC President Jim Manion selects the Athletes of the Month in each of the organization’s seven divisions – Men’s and Women’s Bodybuilding, Figure, Bikini, Fitness and Men’s and Women’s Physique – based on in-person analysis and on the information provided by contest promoters across the country and featured in the NPC News Online Contest Roundups.
For complete profiles and galleries of the August NPC Athletes of the month, go to www.npcnewsonline.com.
About the August Athletes of the Month:
- Men’s Bodybuilding: Mustafa Kabbani, 26, started bodybuilding at the age of 16 in Saudi Arabia. In two NPC contests since 2011, Kabbani has two class wins and one overall win.
- Women’s Bodybuilding: Former Marine Margie Martin of Temecula, California, won the Overall at the Pacific USA Championships. Martin, a mother of four, is working towards becoming a science teacher.
- Figure: Crystal Wong, 33, took an eight-year break from NPC competitions to start a family. In August, Crystal won her class and the Overall at the Pacific USA Championships in her first contest since 2004.
- Bikini: Tiffany Upshaw of Ft. Meyers, Florida, won her class and the Overall at the Dexter Jackson Classic. Upshaw, 25, is a communications major in college.
- Men’s Physique: Former football player Jesus Burgos. 21, won his class and the Overall at the Tim Gardner Extravaganza. Burgos was a backup quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes before an injury ended his playing days.
- Women’s Physique: Janet Gerber, 36, started competing as a lightweight bodybuilder in the NPC in 2009. Janet, who switched to Women’s Physique for the 2011 season, won her class and the Overall at the Tim Gardner Extravaganza.
Fitness: Angela Stueber won the Overall at the Dexter Jackson Classic in her first contest since 2007.
Ever since I can remember I’ve been an observant guy. When I see a person around town that looks like somebody famous I always point it out to the person I’m with. Even when I was little I can remember going to the mall with my grandpa and we’d sit on a bench and people watch while my grandma and mom were busy shopping. It was at a young age I really took notice as to how different people were from one another. And now, years later, most of my people-watching gets done in between sets of heavy shoulder presses, bent over rows and hack squats.
The gym is actually an awesome place to people-watch. Just in the past week I spotted a grandma doing one arm machine preacher curls with one hand, while talking on her cell phone with the other. Apparently she was getting a head start on the 40% off Black Friday discounts on yarn down at JoAnn Fabrics. I’ve noticed the creeper; he’s a middle aged man, often still wearing his Lance Armstrong cycling spandex, who spends 3 hours in the gym just so he can talk to every girl in her early 30s the gym has to offer. Then there are the pseudo powerlifters. You know these guys: bag of chalk, knee wraps, Inzer t-shirts, thick grizzly beards, and Chuck Taylors. The only thing missing was the double layer poly squat suit. All that brutal manliness so I could watch them squat 275lb – what a bunch of beasts.
One thing I can’t quite wrap my head around is why so many fit and well-endowed women in their 20s feel the need to train like they’re prepping to be an Olympic Decathlete or in one of Greg Plitt’s workout infomercials? I watched a girl the other day go from front squats to burpees to Bosu ball push-ups to jumping jacks all within a 2 minute time span. It exhausted me just watching her do this Chinese Fire Drill.
The other thing that really stood out to me was the lack of women in the free weight area. I guess they’re afraid they’re going to bulk up and look like dude. Yeah, heard that one about 100 times too many. You would think that if you’ve been going to the same step aerobics or Zumba class the past 3 years and still can’t see your toes over your saggy tits then it might be time to find something else a bit more productive to do, don’t ya think? I guess common sense isn’t really that common after all. How is it that bodybuilders understand the simple principles of getting into shape: consistently lift heavy weight, do your cardio when needed, and follow a diet closely related to your goals, yet most women at the gym think that the elliptical, salsa dancing, or P90X is going to get them to look like Nicole Wilkins? Sorry ladies, it ain’t happening.
And it isn’t just the women who have a funny way of getting into shape. Men these days have their head so far up their ass it’s amazing they can even scan their card to get into the gym. A day will not pass that I don’t see at least a few guys doing a good 10 sets of shrugs. These same guys have also never done a deadlift or bent over barbell row yet wonder why after months and months of useless shrugging their traps still look like a 15 year old boy.
The last thing and this is actually exciting to see is the amount of ripped old guys there are these days. I guess if Jose Canseco did one good thing it was to open America’s eyes to the health and anti-aging benefits of hormone replacement therapy. I saw a guy the other day that had to be 65 years old with a body of a 35 year old. Not only was it inspiring, but a real testament to the advances of progressive medicine. The guy would have been a great advertisement for clinics like Envision Medical. Imagine if they were able to reverse aging in women! Kind of gross to think somebodies grandma could be a piece of ass again!!
he best part about people-watching at the gym is that no matter what city or gym I’m in, it is as if the same people seem to be following me around. Hey, at least I haven’t seen anyone in Hot Skins in a long time! Although, I think I did see them make a cameo appearance in the latest PJ Braun and Jason Genova video down at Busy Bodies. Guess that’s how they do it in South Florida, ehh Singerman?
You can follow Matt on Twitter @MattMeinrod
Hurricane Sandy was rapidly approaching Long Island. Local officials urged residents in my waterfront neighborhood of Seaford, NY to evacuate, immediately, and my good friend Ron Noreman generously offered to put me up in his home to wait out the storm. After watching the tides rise to the front steps of my home I called Ron and his wife, Nancy, and I took them up on their offer.
You might be asking why does Ronnie’s leg look like he just finished one of his epic leg days two weeks out from a show when he is just sitting on a plane? You also may be asking where is Sam Jackson when you need him to scream something ridiculous and aggressive for no reason? I don’t have any reliable information regarding the whereabouts of Mr. Jackson but I do have the back story to the absurd state of vascularity in Ronnie’s leg… other than the fact that he is still a freak at 48. As Big Ron was packing for his South East Asia tour he had a small bag of unmarked capsules on his desk that he nonchalantly ask me to pass to him. Like any other industry junkie I had to inquire as to the origin of these mystery capsules (and try to score some for myself of course). “What’s in the bag Ronnie?” I asked trying not to sound too interested. “Our new N.O. pill dude… gonna test it out during my Malaysia tour and see if it meets my standards” Ronnie replied.