Written by Peter McGough
11 December 2015


The Arnold Schwarzenegger MD Connection is 48 Years Strong


With the 2015 pro season over we now look forward to next year with the major contest of the spring being the Arnold Classic being staged in Columbus, Ohio on March 3-6. With that in mind it’s timely to revisit the MD/Arnold relationships that commenced 48 years ago when the 19-year-old Oak graced the August 1967 cover of MD. Thus MD became the first North American magazine to put the future Mr. Olympia, Hollywood superstar and Governor of California, front and center.

In that 48 years he’s made the cover of MD another 11 times and obliged with countless interviews. In fact many in the MD stable have interacted with him. Both Shawn Ray and Dan Solomon have recently interviewed him and our Bob Cicherillo has for the past few years been the moderator (not that Bob does anything in moderation) at the annual two hour Arnold seminar held in Columbus the morning after the Arnold Classic. Yours truly has done numerous interviews with bodybuilding’s number one son over the past 20 years, so you see the MD crowd is used to rubbing delts with the guy.

And of our boss and driving force, Steve Blechman, Arnold has gone on record as saying, “One of the guys that (receives) a lot of credit is Steve Blechman from Muscular Development. Those guys have done an extraordinary job for years and years and years to promote health, to promote strength, to promote bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting and all those kinds of things.”


An indication of the Arnold/MD connection came at this year’s Arnold Sports Festival last March. Twenty-four hours before the Arnold Classic ace videographer Jordan Blechman and I waited with about six other film crews to interview the contest’s namesake. Arnold was running late and the interview co-coordinator told me the focus of our attention only had time to do two interviews and MD would not be one of them. I said I’d wait. Arnold duly arrived and in tandem with co-promoter Jim Lorimer decided the two interviews would be with the WWE crew and MD. And so we got the interview.

Personally over the 20 years of working with the seven time Mr. Olympia two occasions stand out. The first took place in February 2005 in Sacramento when I was invited to spend a day with him as he went about the business of being the Governor of what he calls “The greatest state in the nation.”

I went to most of his meetings, did an hour long interview in the gazebo housed outside the Capitol building, which was erected so he can smoke his stogies. That evening we went to a special premiere of the movie Be Cool, starring John Travolta, Uma Thurman, The Rock and Vince Vaughan. I was sitting next to Arnold and as the film opened he asked, “Who’s that?” The object of the question was the rearview image of a gorgeous 30-foot blond wearing only bikini bottoms lying facedown on a sun lounger.

“Uma Thurman.” I replied. He nodded slowly, a slight flicker of the eyebrow indicating perhaps surprise, admiration, alarm or a combination of all three, that I could immediately identify, from that angle, the contours of the actress who puts the Um! in Uma. As a reward he offered me some popcorn.


The other stand out memory was the photo shoot we did for the July 2007 issue of Muscle & Fitness to celebrate his 60th birthday. The concept was for Arnold to interact with life-size cutouts of images from his past. The cutouts were of him as a 16 year old, as a 20 year old, one from 1974, one from 1975, one as Conan The Barbarian and one as The Terminator. From the time he swept into the studio the whole experience was a blast.

The initial set-up was with an image of him flexing as a 16 year old. Perusing that teenage image he laughed at the trunks remarking, “How d’ya like the world’s shortest kilt?” Then he checked out the calf and arm development in the cutout and sighed, “Well we all had to start somewhere.” When the Terminator image came on set Arnold immediately asked for a pair of sunglasses, popped them on, set his jaw and “zap”, he went from Governor to Terminator in an uncanny instant.

But the highlight was when the 1975 single bicep image of him winning the 1975 Mr. Olympia made its entrance. He immediately mimicked the shot and struck the pose “bang” perfectly. The left leg was slightly bent at the knee, left foot positioned correctly, left wrist turned and tucked into the hip. Right arm thrust forward with wrist bent inward, and damn if the bicep development wasn’t clearly visible through the business suit. Topping it all off was that charismatic smile that has wowed, captivated and charmed audiences in different arenas for decades. (See accompanying photo of cover.)

In that snapshot scene for the ages, when the then Governor of the largest state in the nation reached back across time to re-live a Mr. Olympia moment, the whole studio – camera crew, Governor’s aids, stylists etc – burst into ecstatic applause. It was a magical moment.

It was a microcosm of what Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life has been about. How all the lessons he learned in the gym have stayed with him forever and have shaped his character and philosophy. How he prizes and rejoices in his bodybuilding roots and is still at heart – deep, deep, in his heart and in every fiber off his being – the greatest bodybuilder, and the greatest advocate of bodybuilding who ever lived. On behalf of all at MD thanks for your support over the years Mr. Schwarzenegger and long may it continue.

Editor’s Note: Peter would not include this in his column but we feel we have to tell you a little story. At the annual Arnold seminar last March Peter stood up to ask a question, but before he could say anything Arnold said, “First of all I have to say that Peter McGough is one of the great writers and editors, and of course he and I have worked together on many stories, many layouts and many ideas of how to promote bodybuilding. I think the world of you Peter so it’s so great to have you here and be part of the Arnold Weekend.” That statement gives an indication of the high regard Arnold has for another member of Team MD.