My 25 Years of Arnold Schwarzenegger

by Kilo on December 20, 2010

arnold schwarzenegger bodybuildingMy first memory of seeing Arnold Schwarzenegger comes from New Mexico when I was about 7 years old. I was sitting on the floor in our living room watching TV with my dad. I can’t remember if it was a promo for Conan The Destroyer, or if it was the movie itself, but my mouth fell open. I had never seen anyone so muscular. Up until that point I thought my dad was the biggest guy in the world. He’s big, but he certainly doesn’t have Arnold’s muscles. Nobody did.

My parents didn’t let me watch violent movies, and if you’re a fan of Arnold’s, you know that back in the 80s and through most of the 90s, violent movies were about the only thing he did.I made up for it later, of course. With the exception of Jingle All The Way, I think I’ve seen every movie the governator has put out.

Speaking of “nators,” Terminator 2 is still my favorite action movie of all time. I doubt that will ever change.

When I entered the gym in my early 20s for my first serious run at consistent lifting, Arnold was still in everyone’s consciousness. There was a poster of him next to the squat rack in our little gym.  He was doing barbell squats, appropriately. I watched Pumping Iron with my dad later and felt an intriguing mixture of inspiration and intimidation. The movie made me feel like I’d never be strong or big, but not to the point where it made me want to quit trying. The movie is hilarious, by the way. Highly recommended.

It seemed impossible to have a conversation about weightlifting or muscles with anyone without Arnold coming up. This man had conquered the culture. He was a fixture–and probably always will be–whenever these topics arose in macho, testosterone-laden conversations.

I have always been fascinated by people with what I’ll just call presence. There are people who, when they are on a television screen, blot out everyone else. It doesn’t matter what else is happening or who else is standing with them–I just can’t see anyone else. For me those people are Yul Brynner, Christopher Walken, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arnold in particular just seems larger than life to me. It’s mind-boggling now to think that some of the monsters who followed in his bodybuilding footsteps could have snagged his unofficial most muscular man title away from him had they been competing back in his heyday.

I still love to watch his movies. I still like to read about his training. It wasn’t until I saw his cameo in The Expendables that I realized just how long he has been part of my life. I’m glad. I really am.

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