Our next profile on Beyond the Stage is Mr. Passion of Bodybuilding himself. He is a well respected person through out the whole bodybuilding community. Additionally he has succeeded in the most fields of the industry. He is a very good amatuer bodybuilder himself, a well credited writer, author and a high ranked certified personal trainer and nutritionist. Upon this he is a husband and a father.
Let us welcome Writing Icon Mr. Ron Harris for an interview.
RM: Ron what does bodybuilding mean to you?
RH: To me, bodybuilding is about transforming your body into the ideal vision of what you want it to be. If you are skinny, you can build muscle mass and become a bigger man. If you’re fat, you can lose the fat, build muscle, and totally remake yourself into a new image that you are happier with. You don’t have to compete to be a bodybuilder, and you don’t have to look like the men in the magazines, since few have those genetics anyway. Anyone who uses weight training and diet to manipulate and improve his or her appearance is a bodybuilder. To me, it has become the Fountain of Youth as well as a challenge I have relished and looked forward to since I was a kid.
RM: You have been in the industry for how many years, 20-30 something? What do you miss the most when it comes to the 80’s and 90’ decades compared with today? Additionally what don’t you miss from those years?
RH: I started working in this industry in January of 1991, when I came to Los Angeles and worked on the ESPN American Muscle TV show. I was lucky enough to be around the Venice Beach scene throughout that decade, when it still was The Mecca. I miss so much about that time. There was a real bodybuilding community out in Southern California back then. There were retail clothing and supplement stores that catered to bodybuilders, plus restaurants with healthy food we all ate at. The gyms were hardcore and full of competitors. We would all see each other at the many contests throughout the year from LA down to Orange County and San Diego. It was a unique time and place, although I will say that the Boston area I left behind also had a large and thriving bodybuilding community in the 80’s and 90’s too. What I miss most is that we were not outcasts back then, at least not the way we are today. Plenty of young guys wanted to get huge, while today the kids just want abs. We weren’t afraid of hard work and we were patient. Today, everyone wants instant results with minimal work. I also miss the mystique the sport had prior to the Internet. All we knew about the pro’, we knew from the magazines. The pros were mythical. larger than life figures to us. Even contest results and photos were things we had to wait well over a month to see in print, so there was more anticipation and excitement. Now, you have all of that available instantly online, and it’s taken the magic away. What don’t I miss from those years? In trying to find a negative aspect, I am drawing a blank.
RM: Who are your all time favorite bodybuilder and why?
RH: I can’t pick just one man. Arnold was the King, he is the one who first inspired me and millions of others around the world. I admired the rugged physiques of guys known to be the hardest trainers like Mike Mentzer, Tom Platz, Casey Viator, Rich Gaspari, and Dorian Yates. I admired the classic lines of men like Lee Labrada, Frank Zane, Francis Benfatto, and Flex Wheeler. And I have also been inspired by the freaks like Ronnie Coleman, Sergio Oliva, Markus Ruhl, and Vic Richards. So I can’t say I have a favorite. Many great champions have inspired me over the years for various reasons.
RM: Same question but now your favorite writer / columnist in the industry:
RH: Again, I have a few: Peter McGough, Lonnie Teper, TC Luoma, Greg Zulak, Julian Schmidt all come to mind.
RM: Who survives in this bodybuilding industry according to you?
RH: Who survives, as in enjoying long and successful careers? I would say it’s those who have a combination of talent, a strong work ethic, reliability, integrity, and the ability to work well with others. In this industry as with most others, you do have to work and get along with all types of people. Most are easy to get along with, but there are some who will test your patience and your temper. Most people will give you their word and take it seriously – a few will lie to you and tell you only what they think you want to hear.
RM: This is one question that I like to ask people who are highly involved in the industry. Where do you see bodybuilding and fitness progress in 20 years?
RH: That’s a good question, and I’m not sure of the answer. We have already seen that the Ms. Olympia is gone, and I do believe women’s bodybuilding will probably be completely phased out after the 2015 season. Men’s Physique and Women’s Bikini have been the fastest-growing divisions for the last couple years, and the fact is that bodybuilding entries now make up only a fraction of all pro qualifying contests such as the USA, Nationals, and North American. I don’t think men’s bodybuilding will ever go away, but I don’t see it really growing much either. Men’s Physique is a more attainable look that requires far less time and far less pharmaceutical assistance to acquire, and as I said before, people want things fast now. People do one contest now and they feel they are ‘ready to go pro.’ You can do that fairly quickly in Men’s Physique and even faster in Bikini. A pro-caliber bodybuilding physique is going to take most men about ten years to build. Very few guys getting into the industry now want to spend that much time reaching their goal. So I see Men’s Physique and women’s Bikini eventually becoming the main attractions at most amateur shows, at least in terms of competitors and who buys tickets to see them.
RM: Ron it is time for the last words of this interview. Thank you for the great and inspiring answers you gave. I hope we can do a part II in the future.
If there is something you want to add or someone you might want to thank please feel free to do so:
RH: I would like to thank first and foremost my wife Janet aka The Cuban Missile. We have been together for 25 years, married 23 with two great kids ages 20 and 15, and she has been with me through thick and thin. Next, I have to thank Steve Blechman for allowing me to live my dream as a full-time writer for Muscular Development for the last 13 years. John Balik and Steve Holman were the first to publish me back in 1992 at Ironman, and that led to me publishing over 5,000 articles and columns since. The late Don “The Ripper” Ross, former pro bodybuilder, pro wrestler, and editor of MD, was a huge inspiration for me to pursue writing for the magazines. There have been numerous friends and acquaintances over the years who have all made a difference in my life and helped me get to where I am today. Let me just say I am grateful to be doing what I love every day!
To contact Ron Harris:
Facebook: Ron Harris Writer