“No. I’ll talk to them. I don’t mind. Sometimes, what’s frustrating…I was training this rich guy in Chicago. Driving up, it looked like the White House. A huge fountain in the front yard. He asked me if I wanted to see his two Rolls-Royces. And then, he was trying to negotiate the price for training. He was a little cheap. And other people that don’t have much money, they don’t do that. They just pay me without complaining.”
Our food arrives. And I’ve never felt so guilty for what I’ve ordered. I think maybe I’ll only eat half my panini. Not only does Guillame’s tuna fish look gross, but it’s such a small amount on a small plate. He picks up a bread stick, and I can see the veins in his hands bulging, as if it’s a 50-pound dumbbell he’s lifting. He scoops some tuna onto the bread and puts it in his mouth. He says, “You work out, right?” I laugh so loud, the entire restaurant looks over. I’m definitely not taking my leather jacket off.
I tell him that other than daily racquetball games, and the occasional basketball, I don’t touch weights. He tells me that cardio is important, but so is weight training.
Mustard is dripping off the sides of my mouth. As I wipe it away, I change the subject from my eating habits and ask, “When you walk down the street, do people cross to the other side? Or do they comment on your build?”
“When I used to roller-skate at Venice Beach, everyone would comment on me doing steroids. I hated it. They are just assuming that. I hear everyone say that when I walk by.”
Do you go up and explain that you don’t?
“No. I just ignore it. If I confronted them, then they’d say I had ’roid rage. I can’t win.”
I mentioned that I’d seen a workout DVD he sold online.
“That was only supposed to be sold in Europe. A friend in Switzerland did it. Then a company in London started selling it on the Internet. I’m not making a dime off that video. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to make money that I didn’t pursue. I’ve had companies asking me to advertise their supplements and products. I turned them down since I don’t use the products. They didn’t even care. They still wanted me to.”
What about the products we see on TV, like Suzanne Somers and her ThighMaster? Or the weight machines Chuck Norris advertises on infomercials?
“I call those things ‘dust collectors.’ If you get one, that’s what it will do at your house. When you see a muscular person lifting on those, I guarantee you, they got that way by working out in the gym. That’s the best thing you can do. You are more motivated by other people being around. It pushes you, to see others working hard. And you can also work on cardio there, which is important.”
When you compete, what is involved before a competition?
“You shave your body, lie out in the sun, practice posing, and pick a song the crowd will like. The wrong song will put them to sleep.”
How often do you work out? And what is the best way for people to work out?
“I work out six days a week. I enjoy it. I run a lot, too. People shouldn’t just focus on their arms, or their legs, but all the muscles. Add cardio with the lifting. And people should work out for themselves.”
Should people wait between days of lifting?
“Each muscle should be worked out every 48 hours. I especially like working on my legs. I’m always amazed when I see someone run really fast.”
What was your worst injury?
“I’ve hurt my back before. The worst was my first time using a T-bar. You roll the weight down using your wrists. I did 15, and when I tried to do 2 more…that’s when it snapped and I got injured.”
Can you tell by looking at someone if they take steroids?
“No, you can’t. The only way to tell is testing the hair or urine. I would always let them test me. Some people mention lie-detector tests. But those aren’t accurate. What if you are nervous?”
I wanted to ask some people at fitness places about the things I discussed with Guillaume, so I go to Bally’s on Mira Mesa Boulevard. I see they are going out of business next month and can’t talk without permission from the main offices. I drive over to the 24-Hour Fitness on Miramar Road and talk to Jason Felix, who I’m told is one of the top trainers there.
He tells me he’s been with 24-Hour Fitness for ten years. When I tell him about my conversation with Guillaume, he says, “That guy has to be on steroids. Anyone covered in muscles like that usually is. I’ve been in this game too long. I’ve seen it all. You can instantly tell when you see someone. Sometimes it’s their skin color or the temper tantrums. Or, if someone comes in benching 225 pounds and are doing 300 a month later. I see some people with what is called a ‘blow gut,’ which looks like they’re pregnant.”
I tell him Guillaume seems legitimate, and when I mention him competing as a middleweight, Felix says, “Oh, well…I was thinking more about those heavyweights, covered in muscles. You just can’t get that big. When I went to SDSU, I read a thing about how Samoans had the highest levels of testosterone. And these weight lifters have a lot higher levels than them. It’s off the charts. It’s not normal, and it’s not healthy.”
What about injuries?
“You have to learn to lift properly. The back injury is number one. People have poor posture, and they sit all day. You also have to do enough stretching.”
Well, two things I wondered about in your lobby. The first is a sign that says “No kids under 12.” Is that because it’s dangerous for them?