Tuesday, June 30, 2009

..and now a word from Michael Jackson's trainer

Michael Jackson's trainer, one Lou Ferrigno, claims that Jackson was in fantastic shape prior to his death, according to abcnews.com. I see that the story has also been picked up by VG nett.

Lou Ferrigno...that name might sound familiar. In case you can't figure out exactly who he is, allow me to provide an approximately chronological resume for Mr. Ferrigno while you read the abcnews.com story (yes; it is relevant for the connection to Michael Jackson). His first bout with fame came through professional bodybuilding back in the mid 70's, where he was known as a true mass monster, going one-on-one with such notables as Ken Waller, Serge Nubret and some guy who went on to aquire a modicum of fame - Arnold Schwarzenegger. Notably, Ferrigno went up against Arnold in the 1975 Mr. Olympia - the Superbowl of pro bodybuilding - and got his ass handed to him. In case you're interested, this has been immortalized in the cult movie "Pumping iron", where Arnold displays the most impressive psych-out I have ever seen.

Losing to Arnold in his prime is no shame, and it just so happens that Ferrigno could've been the next big thing in pro bodybuilding. Ferrigno also tried his hand at the "World's Strongest man" competitions, but never reached the top echelons. He even had a stint in the Canadian Football League (League Futebole de Mexico Norte, or CFL for short) as a defensive lineman for some Toronto team whose name escapes me, but it didn't last very long. However, the moderate success of "Pumping Iron" lead to Hollywood giving him a call, and in perhaps the smartest move of his career, Ferrigno parlayed his physique and 15 minutes of fame into the role as "The Incredible Hulk" opposite Bill Bixby. Just to clarify; Bixby portrayed the mild-mannered scientist Dr. Bruce Banner, whereas Ferrigno took care of all the green scenes. Following the cancellation of "The Incredible Hulk", Ferrigno landed some lead roles in B-action flicks such as "Hercules" and "Cage" (plus all the sequels), where it became painfully obvious that he maxed out his acting skills by screaming and flexing with his clothes all torn up and with green paint on his body.

When in doubt, return to the well, and so Ferrigno's pro bodybuilding career was resuscitated through the short-lived World Bodybuilding Federation -a pet project of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, evil billionaire and supreme ruler of pro wrestling. Back in his element, Ferrigno was doing really well for himself. Until Vinnie Mac and then WWF got in trouble with the FDA for *gasp* suspicions of steroid abuse in pro wrestling. Even Hulk Hogan himself was forced to admit that he'd been on gear, and all of a sudden Titan Sports (WWF's parent company) was under severe scrutiny. As a consequence, the WBF actually instituted stringent drug testing of all their athletes. At the athletes' meeting where McMahon informed the bodybuilders of this fact, Ferrigno allegedly exclaimed "F*ck this; this is bullshit", and immediately left. He didn't go very far. The rival bodybuilding federation IFBB - where he used to compete back in the 70's - welcomed him back with open arms. Seeing as how Mr. Ferrigno now was in his 40's and he was significantly bigger and better defined than he was in his 20's, some naysayers claimed he must've injected a whole semetary's worth of human growth hormone for his appearance at the 1992 (I think) Master's Olympia. Those people claiming that pro bodybuilders re on steroids are probably just jealous - unlike the WBF, IFBB didn't actually test any of their athletes, but Mr. Ferrigno has since stated that he was clean for that competition, and what possible reason would he have to lie?

Following his second pro bodybuilding run, Ferrigno stayed away from the public spotlight for quite some time. Again, some jealous haterade-drinkers might have said that this absence from the spotlight was involuntary, but I'm sure Mr. Ferrigno just needed some time to replenish his creative energy. After all, when he reappeared, he did so in a spectacular fashion worthy of his A-level celebrity status - he appeared briefly on "Dancing With The Stars". That's not to say that Mr. Ferrigno sat on his hands for the better part of a decade -far from it. In bodybuilding circles (and ironically also among sci-fi fans), he's known as Mr. $20 due to his propensity for showing up at bodybuilding shows and expos (as well as sci-fi conventions) to capitalize on his "The Incredible Hulk" status and his former bodybuilding glory. Mr. Ferrigno will charge any and all $20 for a photo - even if someone has just paid for his autographed photo, a t-shirt and a DVD. If you want your picture taken with him, fork over the $20. In fact, he's even known for walking up to people who took crowd shots at expos and demanding his $20 if he suspects that he was in the shot.

Oh well - I'll conclude this short bio of the life and times of Lou Ferrigno by mentioning that he presently has a recurring cameo in "King of Queens".

So; have you read the abcnews.com story yet or what? Jeesh - how long can it take? That's ok though - read the abcnews.com story and get back to me. I'll wait.

Alrighty then; now that we're on the same page, you might have noted some weird statements from Mr. Ferrigno in that piece. Like "He might have been a little thin because he was under a lot of stress training for the tour, but when I put him through the routine and verything, I mean, he was just fine." So; in the professional opinion of one personal trainer, Jackson, being 5'10" (~180 cm) and weighing about 50 kilo, was fine? On the topic of Jackson's strict diet, he goes on to say "I think he was a vegetarian. And he only ate once a day. But I just told him the proper supplements to take" So lemme' get this straight since it's been a while since I've PT'd: Ferrigno, his personal trainer, for whom one would assume that knowing his client's diet would be of some priority - thinks his client is a vegetarian and that he only eats once a day? Considering that Ferrigno was the one suggesting what supplements to take (where again those haterade-guzzlers mentioned above might think that a former pro bodybuilder assigned to get an aging celebrity in shape for a crucial concert tour might suggest that said supplements don't come over the counter, and that some poor assistant had to make several trips to the mexican pharmacy), this is pretty bad.

Way to be a personal trainer, Lou.


Anders said...

Are you sure mr. Ferrigno really was mr. Jacksons personal trainer? From the description of the case and personality of mr. Ferrigno, isn't it plausible that his involvment is limited to a single shout-out of "Do some push-ups, Michael" when MJ passed him?

Wilhelm said...

It's plenty official, and he's been working in that capacity for some time.

Does he sound like Michael jackson got his money's worth?

Anders said...

Looking at the interview and the shape of MJ's body, no.