Flex Wheeler is a legend in the bodybuilding world. He has ranked at the top of every show he has entered, won shows that count, but somehow the Mr. Olympia crown eluded him. Many would argue he is the most symmetrical competitor of all time. If he isn't, he sure is close.
On a side note, I would like to say that I have interviewed IFBB Professional Male Bodybuilders in the past. None were as open and honest as Flex is here. I also want to say that while he is not the first top 5 or 10 pros I have worked with, he is the only one that was either NOT boring and I could use the interview AND the only one that said YES to the interview and actually pulled through.
Says a lot to reliability. And to think I sent him the questions only two days ago. He responded, I posted, boom, done. Either of the last two Mr. Olympias want to sent their questions answered back to me now? it's only been 12 and 18 months waiting on you two.
Let's meet a class act, Flex Wheeler.
Don Lemmon: Who was the
first person to tell you getting into bodybuilding was a crazy idea?
Flex Wheeler: My conscience was the first to tell me. The crazy part of bodybuilding seems to be the rather suspect judging, little prize money, and the monopoly involved, but the real danger is the level of drugs required to compete these days. Since the age of Dorian, things simply have gone way, way too far, man. It needs to stop. (ed. note: Dorian Yates was the modern Arnold Schwartzenegger who won several Mr. Olympia titles and was the first to truly be mosterous in muscle mass while competing...) While many have gotten bigger and freakier looking - and this may have some morbid curiousity type of appeal - but I don't think we really are better as bodybuilders despite the increase in size.
Everyone talks about how small we were back in those days, but we're only small by extreme, dangerous comparison. It's very ironic and sad when they say great athletes like Shawn Ray are considered only symmetrical and asthetic, yet no one mentions his size. He is plenty big, as we all were. I think they are underestimating what type of size is necessary, and neglecting things such as detail, separation, shape, balance and asthetics that go along with being a great bodybuilder. I don't know. I guess the freaky look sells more tickets, but people are getting hurt trying to achieve it. That's wrong.
Don Lemmon: In my opinion,
you are sort of the Frank Zane of this era. Frank wasn't as big, but he had
greater shape, however, he was not a small man either. What directed your attention
to the industry itself as a profession and how did you originally see your part
Flex Wheeler: I was encouraged by some local friends who were already into bodybuilding. They said I had good genetics and could do something in the sport if I wanted to. I hooked up with them, began training and it all started from there. I was 16 years old at the time. I saw my part as someone who could finally be able to support himself and his family through bodybuilding. I saw it as a way out of a very poor, depressing environment, and it has been a part of my life ever since. Probably always will be.
Don Lemmon: Your 5 favorite
Flex Wheeler: Mp3's are the bomb! I am still learning, but I like Morpheus and iMesh for those things. Napster was cool, but no one is on it anymore, so I bailed. As far as websites go, mtv.com is cool for the latest on music and stuff. I have to say nearly all bodybuilding websites really suck as far as celebrity sites go. That is one reason why I invested so many resources into my site, www.teamflex.com. It's time we set a new standard for up close and personal contact with the guys you see in the magazines, plus make things fun! Most of them are boring as hell and are never updated. Some sites are good for information, such as testosterone.net, maxmuscle.com, and stuff. Getbig.com has a decent message board. My overall favorite is 1wrestling.com for news on wrestling.
Don Lemmon: Got a secret
you want to share? Tell us something nobody knows but only because they havent
Flex Wheeler: Hmm... Well, I think the most shocking thing people encounter with me is when they see me at home and as myself. This whole Flex Wheeler thing is kind of like a game face. I really don't let anyone see me for who I am, and that being Ken Wheeler. Just a regular, private guy like everyone else. Don't let the hype fool ya! I try to open up on my website and stuff. Seems easy to hide behind a computer, but I try to be open. I am also now working on my own, tell-all autobiography along the same lines.
Don Lemmon: I think an
honest biography from a real bodybuilder would be a hot item. What's your craziest
experience while just out looking for a good time in the sport or maybe witnessed
happen but didn't participate in?
Flex Wheeler: Me and my wife, Madeline, were at a bodybuilding competition's after party in Vegas, and everyone was faded on Ecstacy, taking their shirts off as if they have He-Man bodies, and acting crazy!
Don Lemmon: Laughs. Anything
embarrassing ever happen when you were trying to look cool? What?
Flex Wheeler: When I was 16 and first competing, I jumped up on stage in my underwear! (Laughs) I had no idea what posing trunks really were. As you can see, things have come a long way (Laughs)! I have pictures of this, actually, and will soon put it up on my website.
Don Lemmon: Your biggest
lie ever is:
Flex Wheeler: Flex Wheeler. The persona. It isn't a lie, but it is misleading as to who I really am. I mean, lets face it. Once its all over and done with, when the next Flex Wheeler comes along, I'll just be a regular guy. I embraced the attention and all that for years, but lately have stepped away as far as taking it personal. In this business, your friends are only around when times are good. When you are down or retired, you are down alone. I am grateful I have my family and true friends. They care for me no matter what, or who I am.
Don Lemmon: What's the
grossest thing you ever ate? Was it because some one said "Hey, taste this!"
Did you get even?
Flex Wheeler: Fish. I have a three year old mentality in a way. I haven't graduated into different foods. I still eat the same stuff I did as a kid, but in 1996, my nutritionist, Phil Goglia, told me to eat Orange Roughy. I ended up hurling - from both ends! (Laughs)
Don Lemmon: That's interesting.
What's the hardest and yet easiest part of getting into the sport?
Flex Wheeler: When you say "sport," I assume you mean competing for money and making a career out of it, right? Okay. With that in mind, the hardest part is the lifestyle and the sacrifices we all make for what seems to be, in this day and age, a few years at most in the spotlight. I've been blessed to be able to maintain a successful career for nearly a decade now, but the fact is I am not the only one who suffered because of the sacrifice. My family suffered, and to me, that is unacceptable. Even though I am still competing, I will never alienate them again! To give you an idea, when I used to get ready for the Olympia, all I did was live by the three hour clock. I'd eat, sleep and train. That's it. There were many times where I would lock myself in my bedroom for hours and do nothing but think about the contest while staring at the wall. My children, Darius and Nia, were only allowed to come in and play with me for a little while. That is so messed up, man. What was I thinking? For a trophy and some money? My children are young. They don't understand, nor should they even have to experience that. Also, I have to be a husband to my beautiful wife, Madeline, though all of this. It's very hard on them. They simply do not deserve it. I am not proud of these things, and that is why I made some changes. Like I told you earlier, Don Lemmon Tree, they will be the ones around when this circus closes shop!
Don Lemmon: Don Lemmon
Tree? Laughs. What's the easiest part of it all?
Flex Wheeler: I'd say having great genetics from birth, and being able to respond to gear, nutrition, and training not only faster than the average person, but with much better results. We all have something to be thankful for from God, and my genetics are one thing I am very grateful for.
For the average bodybuilder, I recommend balance in life, and to focus more on doing things that last and will make you and others you love happy. Competing is fine. I won't tell anyone what to do, but definitely weigh your options. If you live by the sword, you just may die by it. Natural shows, such as the Muscle Mania, are always a great alternative where you really don't have to worry about your health. It's all up to you.
Don Lemmon: I have been
asked that 1000 times. Is professional bodybuilding healthy? I guess that is
the answer right there. Thank you for the frankness. Tell me, what is your most
frequently asked question and what question makes you crazy, but you somehow
manage to remain composed when asked?
Flex Wheeler: Easy! Drugs. "What drugs do you take?" I hear that so many places man, you wouldn't believe it. I hear it from all sorts of people from different walks of life. I understand why they ask, as many are very curious. People now know drugs play a very large role in all athletics, however, especially in bodybuilding of all things. What people don't understand is the ramifications of talking about it in certain mediums is. Kids ask me for personal advice, and I cannot nor will not give it. It's too risky on both sides of the coin, including ethically. Granted, I will be offering some unique, one on one consulations on my website where I am able to discuss these things, but it is strictly hypothetical and everything must be pre approved. That's as far as I can go.
Don Lemmon: I understand.
It's like answering a simple question can be miscontrued as advice. Is there
a job or a gig that you were offered but passed up in the past that we would
Flex Wheeler: Yeah. I wouldn't call it a job or anything, but I was propositioned once for gay prostitution. Ever since I have been involved in competition, weirdo's have offered to pay me money to do gay tricks. Well, it ain't happenin', man! (Laughs) Some of these guys have gotten out of control and won't take a firm 'NO' for an answer. They have stalked me, and everything. I ain't down with any of that, but they won't listen at times. I used to lose my temper towards them as I took it as an insult, but I keep my composure now. I am against prostitution in all forms.
Don Lemmon: Yes, you
see these people at every show too, just lurking about. It's freaky. Change
of subject (again), how does it make you feel to see people less talented or
not in as good of shape as you are handed something overnight? Does it give
the wrong impression to those on the outside looking in?
Flex Wheeler: Corruption is rampant in this world , and so is manipulation by some of the media. They pull these stunts by giving what at many times seems to be very suspect placings, and then justify it with some nonsense in a magazine. It's obvious to us what's going on, but for the people reading a magazine full of false info, the public will tend to believe it as truth. I do not like it one bit, because whether the mainstream media wants to embrace it or not, I consider bodybuilding a real sport! A little corruption is expected in every sport, but it's gone too far at times for my liking. Contracts and personal relationships seem to effect many things, bro.
Don Lemmon: It's all
in who you know or meet sometimes, I hear ya. Your crowning achievement in life
will hopefully be what?
Flex Wheeler: Watching my children grow into adulthood, and live happy, healthy successful lives. My family is my legacy. Not my freakin' symmetry. Feel me?
Don Lemmon: Tell me a
Flex Wheeler: Pull my finger. (Uproarous laugher)
Don Lemmon: I didn't
expect that! Favorite music album of the year so far and what do you listen
Flex Wheeler: It's impossible for me to say, but, Staind's "Break The Cycle," is good. I listen to all kinds. Dr. Dre, Method Man, Red Man, Marvin Gay, Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Tupac, and those cats. Whatever type of mood I am in at the moment. I even have listened, well watched, Britney Spears! (Chuckles) She is phat, but I only look! Madeline likes Christina Aguliera.
Don Lemmon: If you're
looking, that's what they wanted, laughs. Besides that, what is your favorite
probably regarded to as BAD music or an album no one else likes but you love
anyhow? You know, something a bit embarrassing but you just don't care!
Flex Wheeler: Backstreet Boys.
Don Lemmon: Too funny!
Tell me something about the industry you are in people forget.... and something
they do not realize....
Flex Wheeler: Some people forget that while many stereotypes are true concerning bodybuilders, not all of us are dumb, drug addicted, egomaniacs with no personality or anything. But, I am just as guilty at times at stereotyping too.
Don Lemmon: Once that
is off your chest, what other thing would you change about your industry if
you could without hesitation?
Flex Wheeler: A union and athlete representation to the promotors, magazines, and supplement companies to ensure we are taken care of fairly. The athletes make the least money of everyone in the industry, and in comparison for their efforts in a very short and risky venture that profits others who sit back and collect, I feel we need a union.
Don Lemmon: Who is the
most intriguing person in your business?
Flex Wheeler: Me! (Laughs)
Don Lemmon: Many would
agree there bro. Tell me the last good movie you can remember in a long time
that you saw in theaters, and the last video you rented:
Flex Wheeler: Man, I have kids! (Smiles) What do you mean what is the last thing I saw in theaters? I usually spend quite a lot of time with my babies, and I watch what they enjoy, such as TellaTubbies. However, when me and Madeline are alone, we watch other junk. Last movie I rented was Exit Wounds. It was the bomb!
Don Lemmon: What is your
favorite movie ever and video most watched?
Flex Wheeler: Impossible to say, but I'll ramble off a few. Unforgiven, any Arnold movie, Will Smith's stuff - just to much to say. Lots of stuff. What's my most watched video? Me on stage, foo'! (Laughs)
Don Lemmon: How often
do you see concerts and what was the last one attended?
Flex Wheeler: Prince in Fresno, CA back in the 1980's. I don't go to concerts any more because the risk of danger is just too high now.
Don Lemmon: The TV show
you most watch is:
Flex Wheeler: NYPD.
Don Lemmon: Tell me what
you ate yesterday (or today for that matter):
Flex Wheeler: Pizza , creme broulee', and tacos. My favorites! (Laughs)
Don Lemmon: What type
of aerobic schedule do you keep? Do you go for speed, time or distance?
Flex Wheeler: In the offseason, I usually don't do cardio. I have a very fast metabolism, so I really don't need to use cardio to drop fat unless I am doing a contest. At that point, I will do up to three sessions per day, with the first before breakfast. I'd say I go for time.
Don Lemmon: The worst
pickup line you ever heard was:
Flex Wheeler: "Come on, I am your wife!"
Don Lemmon: And did that
pickup line work?
Flex Wheeler: Yes. (Laughs)
Don Lemmon: If you were
anyone else who would you be (even just for a day, a good day) or who did you
emulate growing up? Do you still emulate or try to be like them now?
Flex Wheeler: I always try to emulate and live up to the Christian standards set by my Grandmother. She pretty much raised me and is the reason why I have any positive attributes. She kept it all together for me. I don't mean to sound square, but straight up, to be the best person I can be is a good goal my mind. Just because you are a believer in God doesn't mean you aren't cool.
Don Lemmon: What did
Flex Wheeler: I think we got it, Don Lemmonaide! (Laughs) Just kidding, bro. Thanks for your support, and thanks to everyone reading this. I had a good time. I hope to see everyone online or at my website. Later, man.
Well folks, he sure likes giving me smack (Lemmonaide? Why, I oughtta...) Check out Flex's stuff at www.teamflex.com He has some really cool photos for sale if you're a fan but what is really cool is the fact he offers counseling through the site. I mean come on, he is a true legend in the sport and how often will you get access to someone of that stature?Don Lemmon's Nutritional and Exercise Know How