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It’s the People

As I write this, I am in recovery mode—three days after the IRON MAN Pro/Los Angeles Fitness Expo—and my mind is refocusing on the magazine. As usual the last three to four weeks before our yearly event, which is 20 now, felt like being in a time warp—what day is it? Anyone who’s been involved with a seven-days-a-week project that stretches over an extended period of time will understand. All of my eating, sleeping and working out routines are altered. What did I do at my last workout, and when was it? Go back to the workout log to be sure.

What always keep me going are the people. When you do an event the way we do, what makes it really satisfying is sharing your obsession with a group of people who are as addicted as you are. When I first started reading Iron Man 53 years ago, I sensed that within those pages were a group of special people—a group I wanted to belong to. I was right. This past weekend just underlines that fact.

The bodybuilding community is populated by a group of individuals. I use the word individuals because they are all one of a kind, but they have facets that intermesh. This year’s group of sponsors for the IRON MAN Pro ranged from people I’ve known for almost 25 years to those I’ve just met. Let me start with Rich Gaspari, former pro bodybuilder and head of Gaspari Nutrition. I met Richie when I photographed him and his training partner, Lee Haney, at World Gym in Venice, California. I was struck by his intensity and focus and his sheer love of what he was doing. Today he’s taken that love of bodybuilding and expanded it into a very successful sports-supplement business. is successful in our world for several reasons, and one of them is the patriarch of the family, Russ DeLuca. You don’t have to be around him very long to be swept up in his torrent of ideas and enthusiasm for bodybuilding.

Abbas El Moussawi is the newest addition to my community. His company, Pro Fight Supplements, was our title sponsor. With Abbas you immediately become a part of his extended family—warmth is the word that jumps to the forefront. Again, he cares about bodybuilding—wants it to grow—and believes everyone should be doing it.

Very few industries today are made up of individuals sharing a common bond, but those in bodybuilding I mentioned are different. They aren’t faceless corporations selling widgets but people who do what they do because they care.

I had many conversations this weekend that brought the above thoughts into deep focus. The following are a handful of people I saw and talked with at our event who make the journey so much fun: Bill Grant, Shawn Ray, Flex Wheeler, Kent Kuehn, Cory Everson, Brad Craig, Dean Tornabene, Jerry Brainum, Tony Novak, Teagan Clive, Joe Wheatley and Wayne Gallasch. They’re all people I would never have met without bodybuilding. Thanks for making the journey fun.

Editor’s note: The big IM Pro photo report will appear in the May IRON MAN. See the flash results on page 293. IM

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