I've been training people for more than fifty years. I started designing programs in 1954 at the Central Queens YMCA in New york. I had just gained 35 lbs of pure muscle in three months and every one wanted to know how. So I would write them up a copy of my workout and show them how to do it. After a while I started customizing the workouts to fit the individual. I was doing so many and achieving such great results the physical program director asked if I would be the weight room instructor in return for free membership. After a few years I was appointed to the Board of Managers I started an Olympic weightlifting team and we won the state championships. A couple of our lifters qualified and competed in the nationals. I also qualified but I did not go. But in doing so I got 5 points in my athletic ability which was to help me win the 1973 Mr. America in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Lon Hanagan was the preeminent physique photographer of that time, with many Strength and Health covers to his credit. I was flattered when he agreed to photograph me. We became lifelong friends.
I went into the Air Force in 1961. After basic I was sent to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska. The Squadron Commander asked if I would administer the 5Bx Fitness Program, which required every airman to pass a series of fitness tests every six months. Our squadron won the base competition. The base commander then asked if I would hold classes at the base field house open to the entire base.
I really enjoyed my four years in the Air Force. I remained in the Reserves until 1969 when I moved to Los Angeles. I left the Air Force only because I had a job waiting for me with the New York City Fire Dept as a fireman. The Firemen's hours were perfect for training and it was during this period that I started competing. I won every major contest on the East Coast including Jr. Mr. USA, which was my first national title.
In January of 1969 I went to Los Angeles to ask Bill Pearl's advice. I was so taken with him I moved to Los Angeles to learn from him. Bill taught me the mechanics of training and training others. With Bill's guidance I was able to win the Mr. America. Carnation Co., my employer at the time I won, sent me on a nationwide media tour.
I met Elton John at a party in 1973 in the Hollywood Hills given by the British director John Schlesinger for Paul Jabara the Grammy award winning song writer who I had known in New York. Elton had just signed a contract with MCA Universal for his first big American tour. His manager John Reid asked if I would be Elton's bodyguard. I was Elton's personal bodyguard for the next 15 years.
Between tours I would do private training. My clientele was composed mainly of record company folk and others in the entertainment industry I met through Elton.
Bodybuilding was and remains an art form for me. Jim French is the greatest photographer of the male physique and I am very proud of his photographs of me.
In 1978 I opened a gym in West Hollywood. Several competitors trained at the gym including Larry Jackson, James Joseph, Rufus Howard and Rory Leidelmeyer. Bob Paris is by far the most famous of all of the bodybuilders who trained there.
I sold the gym in 1985 and resumed personal training at World Gym in Marina Del Rey. I now train my clients at Gold's Gym in Venice at 360 Hampton. My clientele consists of mostly baby boomers and older who want to become more fit
I live in Venice with my dog Hope 13. Hope belonged to Joe Gold and she would come to the fence at Joe's apartment next to World gym and talk to me. So when Joe passed away in June 2004 she came to live with me.
I retired from competition in 1977 after the Mr Universe contest in London.
I decided to become a vegetarian in 1985 at age 50. In 2000 at age 65 I became a vegan.
In 1996 I came out of retirement and entered the Mr. Olympia Masters and won the over 60 class. I was 61. It marked the end of a 30 year competitive career.