The following is a Q&A I held with Michael Kefalianos via his US Manager, Kostas Marangopoulos:
"First of all I would like to say a big thank you to everyone at Flex for this opportunity and interview. Right now I am at my last stage of my Olympia contest preparation and only 2 weeks out from the show I am at 245 pounds and in my best shape ever. Since my win at the 2012 Mr. Europe Pro, I took some time off to rest and spend time with my family and in early June I started my diet for the Mr. Olympia. The gains that have been made are really good, everything from my back, chest, arms & legs have improved in size and my conditioning will be even better. I plan in coming at about 250lbs sharper and bigger, with improved symmetry and presentation, which I have been working on since June."
How difficult is it being in Greece as a body builder? What challenges do you face?
It's definitely not an easy task being a bodybuilder in Greece, whether it's at amateur or professional level. For economical reasons it's harder to be a bodybuilder than any other athlete. I mean, everything from the supplements to the foods we have to eat are expensive and that's why there isn't a bigger number of athletes from Greece. It's a very expensive sport and not as developed as in other countries. However, at the same time, Greek bodybuilding has taken some big strides in the last 3-4 years and there seem to be a new generation of athletes that are up and coming with great potential.
I personally have to work 12 hour shifts as a taxi driver every day, sometimes from 4pm to 4am. My schedule gets really busy because I have to work during the busiest time of the year tourist-wise and also get in my workouts, eating and spending time with my family and friends. But, I manage to still go to the beach, even for a little bit and relax before my workouts.
And you know, despite all the hardships, living in Greece and doing my prep during the summer at the island of Kos is really special. If you've ever been to the Greek islands, you'll know what I'm talking about!
What are you looking forward to at the Olympia?
This will be my 3rd Olympia and I have to say each time I compete it is a huge honor. As a Greek, being on stage of the biggest bodybuilding show in the world that happens to have a Greek name, makes me feel a great deal of honor to be there. I am looking forward to presenting my best and showing the judges and the fans all the improvements I have made. My goal is to be in the top 10 this year. I have improved on size and symmetry, while being sharper than ever.
I will be posting on my facebook (http://www.facebook.com/michaelkefalianosofficial) photos a few days out before the show and you will see what I'm talking about. The other part of the Olympia weekend that I am looking forward to is being in a group of like-minded athletes. I love talking and meeting fellow competitors and see how they're doing. And last but not least, my fans! Talking, meeting, taking photos & signing autographs for my fans, is what I really enjoy. So please do stop by at the Meet the Olympians event and say hello! It's always a pleasure to meet my fans from all over the world.
Why do you think you lost to Johnnie Jackson earlier in the year?
You know Johnnie is a great athlete, friend and competitor and it was an honor competing with him again. I think the one thing that set me back at the Fibo that lead to my 2nd place to Johnnie was my color. A series of unfortunate events lead to my color not being applied properly. Backstage lighting wasn't optimal and couldn't see anything to be honest. People had to open outside doors to get some light in the room, so they could see how their coloring was applied. When I walked on stage, my conditioning and dryness were spot on but my color looked horrible. I was in excellent shape and really sharp but the color ruined my presentation. I could not show off my conditioning and sharpness because of this unfortunate situation.
A week later however, in Madrid, I took time to perfect my tan-color application and along with coming in a little bit drier, the result was beating Johnnie and having my first pro win.
What do you credit your ability to get into tremendous shape to?
I try to stay fairly lean year-round without adding unnecessary bulk. I probably stay within 10-15lbs or my competition weight, which still allows me to make good progress on a consistent basis. I am also very careful of what I eat all the time, eating mostly clean foods grown locally on the island. We have really good quality locally produced food here, everything from poultry to fish, which I believe makes a big difference for my body and contest prep.
I usually have some ice cream or whatever else I like once a week but that's all I allow myself. I also do quite a few shows back to back every year which does not allow much time to cheat on my diet anyways. Between those and the guest posingss I am booked for, I am a Spartan, as my trainer David says, with my diet. So I prefer to eat clean year round. Our food tastes great anyhow, so I am very happy and grateful to have that in our island.
I absolutely love competing and being on stage, so being in great shape each and every time is very important to me. My clean diet contributes to that and I don't have to struggle to lose fat or get in stage shape.
What are your favorite exercises?
I'll tell you which body parts are my favorites to train. Legs and arms. So, with that said, my favorite exercises would be mostly anything for legs but especially squats, leg presses and leg extensions. For arms I really like dumbbell curls and ez-bar curls with strict form, cable pushdowns and kickbacks for triceps. I would also add to these some exercises for back, probably one of my best body parts, like t-bar rows and straight arm pull downs.
What are your competitive plans after the Mr. Olympia?
After the Olympia I leave for India to compete for the 2nd year at the Sheru Classic. Last year it was a tremendous show and I loved the people there. The organizers really did a great job, providing the athletes with everything they needed and really putting on a high quality bodybuilding competition. I really look forward to it. A couple of weeks later I will be competing at the Arnold Classic Europe in Madrid, where a lot of European athletes will be present as well.
This show is so big, between the amateur and the professionals, there are hundreds of competitors. It's truly an amazing event, from all the competitions to the huge expos and I invite all European fans of the sport to attend. You won't regret it. Lastly, on October 27th I will be in Prague for the EVLS Prague Pro, a great addition to the European roster of shows, I am really happy to be competing there for the show's first year.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for this interview, I am looking forward to seeing all the Flex Magazine fans at the Olympia and being once again part of the great tradition that takes place every year in Las Vegas. I also want to thank my sponsors, Healthy2Day of Greece, MHP supplements and Bodybuilders.gr. A big thank you also goes out to all my friends and fans for their support, to my contest coach & trainer David Balasas for all his help and of course to my wife Helen and my kids for their love and patience during the contest preparation times! I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.