In bodybuilding, we tend to toss around terms like “legend” with the kind of careless ease with which wrestlers hurl their opponents around the ring. Certainly in its century-long history, bodybuilding has acquired its fair share of outstanding athletes, all worthy of varying degrees of acknowledgment. Yet, when we describe each and every one as a “legend,” we ultimately dilute the meaning of this potent word. Bodybuilding is chock-full of “greats,” “stars” and even “giants.” But legends? Those guys are few and far between. When you say “legend” you’d better mean it.
So when bodybuilding photographer Chris Lund met up with bodybuilding legends Jay Cutler and Günter Schlierkamp for an intense training session at Koloseum Gym in Fullerton, California, right around the 2006 Olympia, the result was the stuff of, well, legend. And we’re not just throwing that word around lightly.
“When you do a shoot with another competitor, it’s different than being shot alone. In a way, it’s more enjoyable — if it’s someone you get along with. Jay is a great athlete and I respect him for what he’s doing, and I know that he respects me, too. With Jay, I don’t even feel like there’s a competitive side to our relationship. When we get together, we have a lot of fun and joke around. Jay really looked great, not just in the pictures, but at the Olympia. I’m happy for him, having won the Olympia. He’s a very good representative for our sport.” — Günter Schlierkamp
“I had wanted to do another photo shoot with Günter for years. [Their first one appeared in the February 2000 issue of FLEX.] We had both done the ’98 Night Of Champions, where he finished 10th and I was 12th. I thought it would be good, with the two big blond bodybuilders hitting the weights in the gym and, of course, fighting for the same titles. Then when talk of this photo shoot came around, we were both top contenders, with him placing fourth and me taking second at the Olympia in 2005. I was looking forward to doing this shoot with him.” — Jay Cutler
“Chris definitely pushes us hard, which can be good and bad. The good part is that the photos are very intense; there’s a lot of hard work going on and it shows in our faces. When you’re lifting those heavy dumbbells, it’s impossible not to show the strain in your face. Of course, there are times when you don’t want to push that hard for a photo shoot — when you’re two weeks out from a contest, you’re pretty depleted and you can’t lift like you normally do. Then, when you see the results in the magazine, it looks really good and you realize, Hey, that guy knows what he’s doing!” — Günter Schlierkamp
TURNING UP THE VOLUME
“I’ve always been a big fan of Günter. I was screaming, ‘Come on, Günter!’ to psych him up, and he was yelling, ‘Come on, Jay!’ back at me. We go back a long way and have been friends a long time. We’ve done a ton of guest appearances together, so there’s friendship, but also rivalry because, in the end, we’re both fighting for the same title. After he took fifth at the 2002 Mr. Olympia, I e-mailed him and said, ‘Man, you looked great’ and ‘I thought you could have won it all,’ and of course he won the GNC Show of Strength, beating Ronnie Coleman, a couple of weeks later. When Günter’s on, he looks great." — Jay Cutler