Tuesday 12 December 2017

Pat Henry: How to join the champions' league

In this era of drug scandals and sporting mishaps, where do we look for inspiration in fitness and philosophy, asks our fitness expert

Arnold Schwarzenegger during his Mr Olympia days in the 1970s
Arnold Schwarzenegger during his Mr Olympia days in the 1970s

Pat Henry

Legendary LA trainer Vince Gironda is the man who trained Arnold Schwarzenegger, and every other top star in Hollywood. In 1973 I went to the States to train with Gironda, sharing a gym with Schwarzenegger in the process. I had never seen anyone in such fantastic shape: with a 60-inch chest, 34-inch waist, 22-inch biceps, 30-inch thighs and 22-inch calves, he was in perfect form for the Mr Olympia contest.

At training one day, three of Schwarzenegger's fellow bodybuilders asked him along on a trip to the beach with some girls and some booze. I will never forget his reply. He said: "When I win Mr Olympia, become the biggest movie star in the world, and marry American royalty, I will have all the time in the world to do these things."

Back then he was a broke, part-time bricklayer with poor English and an old Volkswagen - but he was driven. Nothing was going to take his focus away from his goal. Years later, I found myself back with Schwarzenegger, making a documentary about champions, and I reminded him of that day. I asked him what makes a champion, and his reply has become part of my daily lexicon.

Here are his answers in full, intertwined with the philosophies of other successful people I have worked with through the decades. Mull them over on those days when you need a little bit of encouragement to be your best:

1. Find your vision of where you are going in life. Are you on a ship with no direction that will pull in at any port that offers security and job prospects? You must mentally create your own future work out of life's blueprint. Find a hero, someone who will inspire you. If you want to be an eagle, you must fly with eagles.

2. Do you love your job or are you doing what you truly would love to work at? In a recent study in America, 74pc of people surveyed disliked their jobs. If this is you, you need a change.

3. Stay away from vampires and negative people; never let them stop you from seeing the bigger picture. Don't accept no, see no as a yes and keep going, ignoring the naysayers.

4. Work hard no matter what you are doing. When Muhammad Ali was asked how many sit-ups he did, he said he only started counting when he felt pain. Going to work and working hard every day is getting you closer to your goal. Do something every day to bring you closer to your dream, but like Arnold, you must have a master plan.

5. Trust yourself, you are responsible for you, don't blame anyone else for your problems. Practice solitude; dig deep to find out what you really want to do. What makes you happy? Spending time on your own, listen to the inner voice, seek guidance. There is a force much greater than us that is there to help, you only have to ask. In silence, the answer will be revealed to you. But you must practice silence every day - even if just for 10 minutes. It's sad to see so many people using headphones for hours each day, filling their minds with useless information and listening to noise. Why not listen to your powerful superconscious mind? What it has to offer is beyond imagination.

6. In yoga, it is said you only truly keep what you give away. Don't just take, give something back. Help someone in need, quietly. You will make a difference. Look beyond the mirror and see the real world and not just your reflection. This may open your eyes and help you really see clearly.

7. Strive to be your best and encourage your children and others to achieve their potential. It's the philosophy of champions.

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