Post-competition life with fan-favorite bodybuilder Gunter Schlierkamp.
By Mike Carlson
Gunter Schlierkamp has always turned heads. People noticed him a decade ago, when he was a well-conditioned 300 pounds and battling onstage against Ronnie Coleman and Jay Cutler, and they notice him today, at a lean 245 pounds, riding his bike to the gym he owns, Bionic Body in Hermosa Beach, California.
Since he retired from competition in 2006, the 6’1” German has been living the California dream: cast in Hollywood movies, has a house near the beach, and married to former fitness competitor-turned-multimedia celebrity Kim Lyons. Together they own the gym, a line of Bionic Body workout gear, and have a six-year-old boy named Jake.
Schlierkamp owns a unique bragging right in bodybuilding history. In 2002, just three weeks after the Mr. Olympia, he beat Ronnie Coleman at the Show Of Strength in Atlanta. It was the first time a reigning Mr. Olympia was beaten.
Mike Carlson: Do you still get recognized often?
Gunter: I do get recognized. It’s always pretty random. Yesterday I walked into Office Depot to get some stuff printed for the gym. The guy behind the desk was like, “Gunter?”
MC: What was your last show?
GS: Mr. Olympia 2006 was my last pro show. The year before I was fourth and didn’t get compared to the top three. It was one of my better conditions, and I thought there were a few guys in front of me who were not that great. Even Arnold came backstage afterwards and said, “I can’t believe you placed like this. You were in shape, you were conditioned, your posing was great.” That took some of the wind out of my sails. I always said, “If I don’t enjoy this, I won’t do it.” 2006 was a turning point. I wasn’t the same. I thought it was time for me to go and look for something else.
MC: What is your best memory of bodybuilding?
GS: Probably in 2002 when I beat Ronnie Coleman at the Show Of Strength. Even at the Olympia three weeks before I felt I was hands down the best guy onstage. I still get e-mails and people telling me, “You are the true 2002 Mr. O.”
MC: What is your training like?
GS: I go to the gym three to four times a week and throw some weight around. They’re not heavy anymore. But I do love working out and training. I still do my five to six meals a day and take some extra protein and vitamins
MC: I see a lot of functional fitness at your gym. Do you ever tell the trainers they need some old-school bodybuilding?
GS: Oh yeah, I always say that. The trainers we hire are really good and really educated. I train from experience, and I know what works. I tell the functional guys, “If someone wants to put on muscle, it is all about breaking the muscle down.” Some of the trainers, all they do is functional stuff. It’s all box jumps. They know a lot about training, but it seems like they are not attacking the muscle. I like to attack the muscles and give them results with muscle growth and increasing their metabolism.
MC: Here’s the reason we wanted to talk to you. Older bodybuilders like Darrem Charles and Stan McQuay are trying the new Classic Physique division, and they are dominating. What are your thoughts about making a run?
GS: At my height, to be competitive it’s hard. The taller you are the harder it is too keep up the size. To look way I want to, I’d have to go 100 percent into bodybuilding, and I can’t do that right now. I have too much going on.
I can see Darrem Charles doing well. With his look and his tight waist, he never had to push the weight that heavy. I have big joints, so I had to put a lot of meat on to make my joints look small. Darrem didn’t need to do that. If you look at symmetry, he was more gifted than anyone else. If you’re a big guy, you have to put some muscle on your frame.
MC: Do you have abs right now?
GS: No, but I do feel them under that layer [laughs]! I have upper abdominals, I’ll put it that way. I’m not fat, though. When people see me in a tank top they think that I’m in shape. But I have a different shape in my mind. I’m not shredded.
Kim and I always look in the mirror and we think we’re fat. Other people think we look good, but we feel fat. We are so used to being shredded and dialed in. There was a time when that was everything you had to worry about. That was great [laughs]!
MC: You have bigger things in your life now, like the business and your boy, Jake.
GS: I tell you what, I love that little Hosenscheisser. That means “pants pooper” in German. When he was born his whole body was as big as my meat hook. Now he has big feet, big hands, a six-pack, and he is stronger than an ox already. It’s insane what he can do with his athletic ability! He’s a miracle. IM