The lure of Venice remains. Forty-eight years after Joe Gold opened a small gym in the quirky Los Angeles beach community of Venice, Gold’s Gym the now-massive flagship of a now-massive empire attracts pilgrimaging bodybuilders from around the globe. Some come just to say they strode the rubber floor, but many stay for months or years, making it their preferred place of toil. Shawn Rhoden is just the latest legend to set up shop there. His trainer, Charles Glass, came to Gold’s four decades ago when he too was an elite bodybuilder. So we have the brimming promise of the present in Rhoden teamed with the wisdom of the past in Glass. Added to the mix are two possible futures: Brad Rowe, a heavyweight contender at this year’s USA, and Matt Evans, a super-heavy gunning for the Nationals.
Charles Glass isn’t at this June 26 session, but his three protégés plow through a Glass-like back workout in Gold’s Venice, all of them focused on the next big steps of their careers. Rhoden has the greatest goal of all the biggest dream in all of bodybuilding. After his stunning third at last year’s O, he’s aiming for nothing less than the Mr. Olympia title on Sept. 27–28. But in order to claim it, he knows he’ll need a bigger, better back. That’s why he’s in Venice, like so many hopeful pilgrims before him, endeavoring with every rep to make his dream come true.
■ Flexatron first trained with Glass last year before the FLEX Pro. This year, he returned to L.A. in January and stayed until March. When we catch up with him in late June he has been back there three weeks and is searching for an apartment to rent. He’s certain he’ll remain until at least the Olympia but thinks he’ll probably stick until March of next year and the Arnold Classic which he intends to enter regardless of the outcome at the O.
Rhoden never worked with a trainer before he teamed up with Glass. “I just went with stuff I learned since I was a kid. So turning the reins over to Charles was a big change,” he explains, “but you look at his track record and the people he worked with in the past and what they accomplished. My thing is if you want to be the best you seek advice from those who’ve been there before Charles Glass, Ronnie [Coleman], and, one of the top diet technicians in the sport, Chris Aceto. So I’m just surrounding myself with the know-how, and we’ll see how far I can go. It’s so different from training by myself to train with Charles and train in this atmosphere [in Venice] where everything is focused on bodybuilding. You come out here and it’s like a whole different world. And every time I’ve been out here my progress has been phenomenal. So I have to try to take advantage of that.”
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