PILGRIMAGE TO THE MECCA

 Reflections on the 2012 IFBB Titans Grand Prix Pro Physique and Training at the Mecca of Bodybuilding

 It’s been several weeks now since my trip to California to compete in the 2012 IFBB Titans Grand Prix Pro Physique and I still have a lot to share about my experience there.  This trip was a pilgrimage for me in several ways, a sort of return to the stage and a reconnection with a lifestyle my family and I pursue with so much passion.

On Stage with Titans

 It was, of course, rewarding to bring my body back into the physical condition necessary to get on stage and competing is the impetus to get me there.  It was equally rewarding, though, to be in the company of such great women who share this passion with me.  We come from different walks of life and from every corner of the world (from Thailand to Alaska to Brazil in fact) but we all have at least one thing in common – a bond with health and fitness and a drive to shape our bodies into the best version of ourselves and that bond is sealed with iron.  I find it reward enough to continue to compete if for no other reason than to stand on stage with these fine athletes.

 The IFBB Physique Pros With Promoter John Lindsay after the Athletes’ Meeting

 With Mr. Olympia, Phil Heath 

Where it All Began 

There was no way I was going to go to Venice, California with my husband and trainer and not get in at least one workout at Gold’s Gym in Venice Beach – the Mecca of bodybuilding!  We were close enough to walk from our hotel and what a beautiful walk it was.  The streets of Venice are beautiful, quiet and filled with quaint little houses that are all immaculately maintained. 

 

 Just one of many immaculate houses in Venice Beach.

Arriving at the gym was a little anticlimactic as you walk across an old parking lot into what looks a lot like a warehouse from the outside.  The only thing hinting at the significance of what waited inside was the logo painted on the wall near the door with the date, 1965, underneath.  There was even a sweet, quiet German Shepherd tied up near the door, patiently waiting on its owner.  This reminded Shawn of photos he had seen of the Original Gold’s Gym just a few block from here where Joe Gold’s Great Dane could be seen sitting in the shade of the door. Once inside you immediately get the sense this is a serious gym – no fluff necessary!

 

 Outside the Mecca with a New Friend

We were there to work back and there was plenty to work with.  It didn’t take long for Shawn to begin recognizing people and we were blessed with the company of some greats including Charles Glass and Mike O’Hearn. 

 Charles Glass — IFBB Bodybuilding Legend and Training Guru

 The Always Super Friendly Mike O’Hearn

At one point we were looking for the T-bar row set up and couldn’t find it anywhere when Shawn spotted Hidetada Yamagishi and said, he’ll know where the T-bar is.  Hide laughed when I asked him, saying, “Yeah, hard to believe but the only one is outside.  No body ever finds it.”  After a quick pic with Hide we went out back to the yard and located the T-bar and enjoyed training in the sunshine. 

 

 Japanese Bodybuilding Icon and Super Nice Guy — Hidetada Yamagishi

 T-Bar Rows Under the Sun!

Working out at the Mecca, I could really see why so many come here from around the world.  To train there, surrounded by enormous photos of the best in the history of the Physical Culture, I felt truly in touch with the roots of the sport that is so much more than a sport and so much more than a physical endeavor.  I too had now worked out where they all had and I knew I would definitely be back!

Working Out Under the Watchful Eye Of Legends 

 Out Back in the Yard at Gold’s Gym Venice

Out Back in the Yard at Gold’s Gym Venice