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.
If you’re like me you closely follow bodybuilding, almost too close. I listen to Heavy Muscle Radio, watch the prejudging and night shows on the Bodybuilding.com Olympia and Arnold webcast, and scroll through 15 pages on the message board play by play just to get Dave or Chris’ up to the minute opinion if Toney Freeman is ‘on’ or ‘off’ in the 1 of 12 different contests the 46 year old does in a calendar year; it borderlines on obsessive compulsive. But being OCD is what all bodybuilders can relate to. In our own little short bus kind of way, we’re all completely nuts.
When we go on vacation we can’t just pack a bag, book a flight and hotel room, and off we go. We have to plan! “I’ll be gone 5 days so that’s 5 regular shirts, 5 gym shirts, extra underwear and socks, strategically saved ‘my strong day’ for the first day at the gym so everyone can see me lift more than anyone else, should I pack my supplements with my clothes or in another bag?” Then there’s the food. “What am I going to do about food? Should I precook all my meals and put them in Tupperware, no that’s too bulky, plastic bags it is. Five days gone so I’ll cook 4 chicken meals per day, 10 ounces each in Zip Lock bags, but will they let me on the plane with the food? I need to save at least 1 bag of chicken for at the airport because I don’t want to be starving on the plane. I guess the other days I’ll just order something out.” And we can’t just sit in a regular seat. “It has to be an exit row seat. Aisle seating would work too, but I just trained legs and my knees are aching and the tray table won’t rest flat because my quads are too big. Oh and don’t even think about taking the middle seat you fat ass old lady I will eye gouge you and drop a huge protein fart without thinking twice about it.” And just the thought of vacation alone gives me anxiety. “Once I’m there I can’t be out doing something that makes me go longer than 3 hours without eating. Don’t make me be too active, insert hiking, kayaking, skiing, and scuba diving, I might burn too many calories which would lead me to have less energy at the gym later.” No wonder my idea of a vacation is going to the Olympia and Arnold Expo.
The bodybuilders OCD goes beyond vacations. I can’t even go to the movie with my girlfriend without having to sit on the left side aisle to stretch out my arthritic knees. And oh wait, I’m on a keto diet, guess that means I’ll have to eat my fajitas at Chili’s without the tortilla. And before we even get to dinner I’ve got to have a chicken meal before I leave the house so I’ve pre-exhausted my appetite. What’s worse is these weird bodybuilder quirks are so normal that we forget we do them in public. I’ll never forget when I saw “Raising the Bar” the first time. Dave Pulcinella at a family dinner and they all look at him as though he’s an alien from another planet. After all, there’s a reason “The 6 Foods That Work” has almost 400,000 YouTube views, whether you’re Jay Cutler or just a gym guy, we’re all in the same spectrum of weirdness. Evan Centopani won’t eat from a plastic Tupperware, it has to be glassware because somehow the plastic will contaminate him more than the tren? Hmm, sure thing Ev.
And how do you know we’re weird? Go to Christmas or a Fourth of July outing with your family and they’ll tell you. My Mom still thinks I’m nuts for eating on schedule, going to the gym on Christmas, and having the same exact meal, 6 times per day for nearly half my life. Ok, the last one is a bit of a stretch, but you get the point. Our families just do not understand what and why, we do what we do.
The madness continues, I’ve watched nearly every Jay Cutler, Kai Greene, Ronnie Coleman, Phil Heath, and Zhasni Bodybuilding Motivational YouTube video known to man – especially preworkout while I’m sipping on Jack3d or NO Xplode. Yeah don’t lie, you all have too! I can’t understand how my girlfriend can go all day without taking a shit and I am on the pot 5 times a day. Ironically I’ve heard Guy Cisternino writes down in his journal the smell and texture of each dump – true story. I can’t figure out why watching Broke Back Mountain is gay, but watching bodybuilding and men’s physique isn’t. And why do I go through a skillet every 6 months, but my grandma has had the same one her entire life?
Bodybuilder OCD is what makes bodybuilding special. It’s what separates us. I know I’m weird, but at least I know I’m not alone.
Justin Compton- Heavyweight
Justin Compton came back to Nationals this year with fifteen additional pounds of conditioned muscle, and I believe that will be enough to win the heavyweight class… and possibly the whole show. Last year Justin emailed me for my critique because I wrote in the play-by-play that he has tons of potential, but his excessive sweating cost him dearly. Lucky for Justin he was able to hold off the sweating till the very last moment this year!
At a very young 24 years old Justin has tons of muscle for any age. I asked Justin if he always knew he was genetically blessed to be able to gain muscle, and he told me, “I started lifting weights when I was 15, and I bloomed really fast. I blew up. I was the biggest guy in high school, so I knew I had good genetics for this.”
Justin tells me that he is interested in things that not every bodybuilder would be. He definitely isn’t a hermit. When I asked Justin what he did for a living I was surprised to hear that he is a mortgage loan officer. “I sit at a desk, so I get time eat, air conditioning! I get picked on a little for being so big!”
Chris "The Real Deal" Cormier
I bumped into the Chris “The Real Deal” Cormier backstage here at NPC Nationals as he was running to go make sure his client, Brad Rowe, was doing alright. After he finished with Brad I pulled him aside to talk about his training business, and life at the Mecca, Gold’s Gym Venice Beach.
Chris says Team Real Deal Training is growing rapidly, and he is quickly becoming the go to guy for training at Gold’s Venice. “I have a great time training people, doing diets, and helping people with their posing. I get a ton of satisfaction seeing my people do well.” Cormier said.
I had to ask Chris about the craziest thing he’s ever seen at Gold’s Gym Venice… That he could tell me on the record anyway! He said, “Man, there was a posing room that was closed down. It was kinda secluded. I don’t know who or what or not, but some people were having sex in that posing room. You see some condoms left in there. Lol!”
Steven Silverman- Middleweight
Last year Steven Silverman placed 2nd at NPC Nationals. He was so close to that IFBB Pro card that he could practically taste it. That placing caused him to reevaluate his prep, and his commitment to the sport. “Going out and partying killed me. I was going out up till four weeks out and drinking. I would look good, but not for the national level. Last year, after that, and I knew I didn’t give it 100%, I had to come back this year and really show them.” He said.
Steve didn’t go out once this year, and the dedication has paid off because Steven is bigger this year, he says 8lbs, and his condition is as good or better.
Steve is a barber by profession, and got into cutting hair during high school. He took a cosmetology class and liked how it put his artistic side to use. Plus, when he got a job cutting hair in high school and was making some good money, he was sold.
Ariel Alberto- Lightweight
Two years ago Ariel Alberto was in a club when his friend got into a fight. His buddy was in serious trouble since it was just him versus around ten other guys. Ariel jumped in to help his friend, and didn’t realize till after the fight was stopped that he’d been stabbed fifteen times! That landed Ariel in ICU for three days, almost cost him his life, and he ended up staying in the hospital for three weeks. “That incident motivated me to change my life, and how I was living. I focused 100% on fitness, and it led me to competing in my first bodybuilding show six months after I was stabbed.” He said.
Ariel won his class at the NPC San Francisco 4 weeks ago, and after talking to Dave Palumbo, decided to give it a shot here at NPC Nationals.
Before I ended the interview, Ariel made it point to tell me that he views the stabbing as a blessing. That it put his life into focus, and showed him what’s important. He believes if it wasn’t for that night, he would never be doing what he is now.