Bodybuilding Secrets 2005 Year End Update: Where In The World Has Tom Venuto been (and what’s next?)


Saturday, December 17th, 2005. Holy Hypertrophy! Has it really been a month and a half since I wrote my last blog entry? Wow, man. Those 6 weeks just flew by! The whole year flew by! But you didn’t think I was finished blogging forever did you? Based on my Bodybuilding Secrets email box filled with “where are you” and “what happened to your blog” messages, a lot of people thought I had blogged off into the sunset. Well…I’m BAAAAACK, and it’s time to get BIG! MUSCLE MASS SEASON has begun!

So where HAVE I been? What HAVE I been up to? Just took a little vacation, that’s all. But hey, I deserved it! Don’t yell at me for not blogging for a while – a blog like this is time consuming, hard work! Work hard, work hard, work hard… then PLAY HARD! With me being the “recovering workaholic” that I am, I figure I have several YEARS of “play time” to catch up on… and believe me, I will catch up – and this was how I started…

Technically, I took two vacations…

First, after my last competition of 2005, I took a “vacation” from training. Yes, despite rumors to the contrary, this gym rat really does take time off. It’s a must after competitions, but I even recommend that my clients take a full week off after every 12-16 week cycle of hard training. It’s difficult to do sometimes because when you’re really in the training groove, you have this fear of slipping backwards.

The thing is, muscles don’t shrivel, nor does fat accumulate that quickly and even if they did, when you come back from a good rest, your body is far more responsive and you often experience the best muscle growth and fat loss you’ve had in months or years.

So… take a tip from a muscle head from New Joisey – If you’ve been dieting and training like an animal for half a year non stop, TAKE A BREAK will ya! It’s okay! You have permission 🙂

The second vacation, now THAT was a “real” one. I actually got onboard one of those little metal tubes with wings, with teeny little chairs never designed to fit a normal human, let alone a bodybuilder with quads, lats, deltoids and biceps.

You’d think I’d fly somewhere really exotic like the Caribbean or some Greek island, or at least Hawaii. But nooooo. Where does a muscle head like me go for vacation?

Come on, guess….

Come on, It’s not a trick question…

If you can’t get this one, there is no hope for you….

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock…

Time’s Up

Okay… The answer is…

If you said “MUSCLE BEACH,” then BINGO! You win!

Yeah, Southern California. Santa Monica. I was walking distance from the Santa Monica beach, pier and third street promenade and just a few minutes driving time to the Mecca of Bodybuilding – GOLD’S GYM, Venice California!

I was in heaven! I was Thisssssssssss close to moving out there! East Coast, you almost lost me!

Why? Well, for one thing, an artic air mass just blew into the New Jersey and New York City area and the temp plummeted down into the teens. There’s already snow on the ground and the weather man says another storm is on the way. These Northeast winters are for the birds. Penguins, that is. I will trade my snow shovel for a surfboard any time.

Believe it or not, the surfboards were out in Sunny Southern California last month. I couldn’t believe THE WEATHER! 85 degrees and sunny, not a cloud in the sky all week long! I was lying on the beach – in late November!!!! When I asked the “locals” about it, they said it was in fact, unseasonably warm because the “Santa Ana” winds bring in hot air from the desert. Usually it’s only 75 degrees or so in November… “only 75” Heh.

Did I mention, I almost didn’t come home? I’m not joking, I almost moved out there. My friend Rob “The Former Fat Guy” Cooper has a signature file on all his emails that says, “Palm Trees Are God’s way of saying, LIVE HERE!” I Love that! (but then I bust his chops and ask him, “Then what the heck are you doing in Canada!”)

It wasn’t just the Southern California weather I love – California has a totally different energy than the East coast, and especially the New York City vibe. Cali is WAAAAAY more laid back (it’s even more laid back in Northern Cali).

This place was also like heaven for a muscle head like me. It’s no wonder bodybuilders have made the pilgrimage to Venice, CA for nearly a half a century.

The first day I arrived, I trained at World Gym on Washington Blvd in Marina Del Rey. Eddie Giuliani was there; I don’t know him personally, but I recognized him from all those classic photos of him with Arnold. The gym was actually smaller than I thought, but it was awesome – just what the doctor ordered. I loved it. Training in an outdoor weight pen with the sunlight and open
air streaming in absolutely rocks! No way on the east coast.

At Gold’s Gym Venice, it was a scene right out of the pages of the bodybuilding magazines. And when I say “scene” I mean that in every sense of the word. This is where people go to see and to be seen. A mix between Hollywood types, Venice Beach Hippies, Pro athletes and hardcore Bodybuilders. Honestly, there was such a buzz in the place, it was almost too distracting to work out. But maybe that’s just because it was my first time there and I was a little “star struck.”

There was IFBB pro, Bob Chicherillo, 20 inch biceps and all, the next bench over from me! Training guru to the pros Charles Glass was there taking his clients through the paces… Mike O Hearn, fitness model, natural bodybuilder and powerlifter was there doing deadlifts. He’s one strong dude by the way! I saw him deadlift 500 pounds for 5 reps… easy. Top natural bodybuilder and TEAM UNIVERSE champ Tito Raymond was also there, busily training his clients.

Did I mention I saw one of the barbarian brothers? Not sure which one (they’re twins you know), but I think it was David Paul. These are the guys that got tons of publicity in the muscle mags in the late 80’s and early 90’s, even though they never competed, simply by virtue of their inhuman strength and muscle mass paired with their unique and flamboyant personalities.

What serious veteran bodybuilder can forget those classic Muscle Mag International photos of one Barbarian brother standing on top of the weight stack while the other barbarian repped out on cable tricep extensions, screaming at the other one, “COME ON, PUSH IT!!!!!” until his swollen arms nearly exploded! Or the picture of David CURLING 150 pound dumbbells! Insane!

While I was just finishing a chest and bicep workout at Golds, I bumped into pro sports and celebrity trainer extraordinaire TR Goodman of Pro Camp Training. TR trains movie stars like James Caan, Ray Liotta, Owen Wilson and more pro athletes than I have space to list. I met TR earlier in the year at a seminar in Washington DC and knew he was from LA, but didn’t realize he was based out of Golds Venice until I saw him there. If you’re an athlete looking for a sports trainer in Venice California, TR’s your man. His private studio is in the same building as Gold’s Gym on Hampton Drive.

I also bumped into – almost literally, on the street by coincidence – Jackie Lee. Jackie is one of the “ageless role models” profiled in the e-book I co-authored with Jon Benson, Fit Over 40: Role Models For Excellence At Any Age. Jackie was inspired by Rachel McLish, the former Miss Olympia, and took up weight lifting about 20 years ago when she was in her 50’s. She hasn’t stopped since. She is now 72, but she looks 52, and let me tell you, she is a ball of fire!

In addition to being a bodybuilder, she’s also a figure competitor, yoga instructor, personal trainer, actress, acrobatic dancer, and motivational speaker! If you want to see proof that you’re only as old as you think you are, then you can read more about Jackie (and more than 50 other “ageless wonders” like her) in the Fit Over 40 e-book at

I also had a chance to connect with peak performance guru, NLP practitioner and hypnotherapist Pete Siegel. Pete’s a good friend of mine from Marina Del Rey, just a hop skip and a jump from the hotel where I was staying. Any time I have a chance to meet or speak on the phone with Pete, I jump at the opportunity. Talk about a power-motivator! You think Anthony Robbins is motivational, talk to Pete for 5 minutes and you’ll be ready to take over the world! Actually, over chicken breast, broccoli and yams at Koo-Koo-Roos, Pete and I decided to split the world evenly between the two of us!

Speaking of the food out there in LA… Fuggedaboudit! I chowed down at the famous bodybuilder’s restaurant THE FIREHOUSE every day – sometimes more than once! The Firehouse literally has a menu just for bodybuilders: Egg whites, chicken, fish, lean beef, buffalo…. Rice, yams, potatoes, oatmeal, pasta, fruits, veggies and any other bodybuilding food you can think of.

You even get to mix and match – “pick one protein, and pick one carb.” – OR if you’re on a bulking program – “pick one protein, two carbs!” – OR… get a load of this – “pick two proteins, one veggie.” Yeah, you guessed it – that’s the “cutting program.” Not only was the food great and 100% bodybuilding diet friendly, the service was amazing! I must have had four different waiters, waitresses and servers at my beck and call. Bodybuilding Secrets.Com gives the Firehouse Restaurant in Venice two enthusiastic thumbs up!

DAMN, how come there’s no restaurants like that here in Jersey???

Even the local diners out there had bodybuilding food. Here in Jersey, you ask for 6 egg whites and 1 whole egg and they look at you like you’re an alien… then they charge you 15 bucks and serve it to you dripping in grease. In Venice and Santa Monica, egg whites are actually a choice ON the menu.

What am I doing still living in New Jersey??? Sigh….. Alas, I bought a new condo here just a couple months ago. But California is definitely calling to me… Southern Cal, Northern Cal… whichever, just a matter of time.

I almost forgot. I mentioned bumping into pro trainer TR Goodman right? Well, so he calls me up one night and says, hey man, whatcha doing? Want to go check out a movie screening? I said” sure, what movie?” He says, “LA DICKS.” I said, “THAT kind of movie? You perv!”… He said, “No no no, dicks as in detectives – it’s a new indie flick about two Los Angeles detectives, don’t know if it’s any good but… something to do.”

So we go to Culver City Studios to a private screening, experiencing the joy of Los Angeles traffic on the way, and we somehow make it through the whole movie. On the way out the door, TR says, “I wonder if Jimmy is still on the set?”

I said, “Jimmy who?”

He says, “Jimmy Caan… James Caan.” (As in The Godfather, Misery and Las Vegas!)

So TR takes me over towards one of the Culver Studios sound stages, and lo and behold, there is James Caan standing right in front of us! TR Introduced me to Jimmy, then we went inside to watch them film a scene from The TV series Las Vegas!

The set was amazing. They built en entire casino – you’d swear you were really in Vegas. After the filming was done, we hung out in Jimmy’s trailer for little while before calling it a night. Beats the Universal City Studio tours eh? (Yes, I DID go there too. I didn’t just lift weights and lie on the beach all day… had to do at least a little bit of “tourist” stuff!)

If that wasn’t cool enough, TR said he was going to introduce me to Ray Liotta the next day, but Ray had to cancel his training appointment. Bummer
there, but it was pretty cool meeting James Caan. (Coincidentally, I named one of my blog entries a few months ago after the Scene in Caan’s movie Misery – It’s called the “Quad Hobbler”… if you missed it, go back to the archives here and check it out: The Quad Hobbler (leg training that will make you limp!)

On my last day out in Sunny, Warm Southern California, I drove out to Cal State Fullerton for the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) conference. This is a great new organization for fitness professionals, which is recognizing that sports nutrition is a whole new emerging field, separate and distinct from clinical nutrition or nutrition for sedentary people (couch potatoes!) I was so impressed
by the speakers and the organization as a whole, I plan to pursue their sports nutrition certification and their body composition certification in 2006. That will be my 4th or 5th certification, I think… who’s counting?

While I was in Fullerton, I worked out at IFBB pro bodybuilder Milos Sarcev’s gym, formerly Gold’s Gym, now called Koloseum gym. Freakin awesome. Although I might not buy my mother a membership at a joint like this, for any hardcore bodybuilder, the place ROCKED! Milos wasn’t there when I was training, but I did get to meet his wife, Fitness pro Milomar Flores-Sarcev. On the way back to the hotel from Fullerton to Santa Monica on a Saturday night, I even got to learn why the locals call the freeways “parking lots.” And I thought Manhattan gridlock was bad.

Well anyway, enough about my vacation. I’ve been forced to sit through other peoples vacation photos before, and you know “exciting” that can be… but since this was MUSCLE BEACH, I thought you might be interested, so I posted a slide show and saved it for last… in case you give a protein fart, it’s at the bottom of this page.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled Bodybuilding Secrets programming:

Tomorrow I’m scheduled to start training again with my workout partner Kostas “The Greek Statue” Marangopoulos. Since my one week break after the last contest, I HAVE been in the gym training hard… but it’s been very much a transitional “maintenance” phase to let my body recover (from the “beating” I gave it the last 5 months).

My strength is gaining and I’m starting to put back on some solid weight again, but I’m still really light (around 184 lbs), and the training so far last month (November) and this month (December) has been no where near the INTENSITY you are going to read about over the next 4-5 months of MASS SEASON. Then… it’s onward to 3-4 months of contest dieting and training for my August 2006

2005 was like just getting my feet wet again. Now it’s time to get “serious” again and achieve a major life goal of mine that has been on my dreams list for a long, long time – a national title in drug free bodybuilding.

Stay tuned, bodybuilding secrets 2006 is gonna be good!

Tom’s “Muscle Beach” Vacation Slide Show

The Original Location Of Muscle Beach, Santa Monica, California

Outdoor Exercise Area, Original Muscle Beach, Santa Monica, California

Working Out On Muscle Beach, Santa Monica,California

Entrance to Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Beach, Bike Path and Pier… Off season… not many people on the beach… but it WAS beach weather alright!

3rd Street Promenade, Santa Monica… great eating, drinking, shopping… and lots of street performers

Gold’s Gym, Venice, California…

…The Mecca Of Bodybuilding

Me outside of Gold’s Gym Venice, CA (Photo by TR Goodman, thanks buddy!)

Motorists Beware! … Bodybuilders Crossing!

The Firehouse Restaurant, Around The Corner From Gold’s Gym… Where Muscle Heads Go To “Re-Fuel!” Two Enthusiastic Thumbs Up!

Muscle Beach, Venice, California – Outdoor Weight Pen

venice Beach Boardwalk

Surfer on a skateboard.. typical Venice!

Typical Venice boardwalk boutique… “Get yer pipes, bongs and bead curtains here!” (no! I did not do any shopping in there!)

World Gym, Marina Del Rey, California – Two Thumbs up!

Marina Del Rey (also notice the “famous” Los Angeles smog in the background, looking West)

Season’s Greetings from Manhattan Beach! (I’ll trade this for a white Christmas, any day!)

Manhattan Beach… SURF’S UP!!!

Manhattan beach… swimming, and waiting for the next wave… no wetsuit! (It was 85 degrees at the end of November!)

Wecome to Universal Studios, Hollywood!

KING KONG in yer face! (Universal Studios Tour)

Universal Studios Tour – War Of The Worlds Set… still smoldering

My last workout of the week was at Milos Sarcev’s Koloseum Gym In Fullerton. Bodybuilding Secrets.Com gives Milos’s gym two thumbs up!!!

Palm Trees… God’s Way Of Saying, “Live Here!”

Manhattan Beach – Living Here Does Not Suck!

Malibu private beach… Living here doesn’t suck either! (until you have to pay the mortgage!)

Malibu Sunset… Do I really HAVE to go home???

End of Slide Show

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Comments on Bodybuilding Secrets 2005 Year End Update: Where In The World Has Tom Venuto been (and what’s next?) Leave a Comment

December 19, 2005

Rob Cooper @ 12:22 pm #

Tom, first of all, I AM on my way out of Canada (well, for the most part). I’m moving to Vancouver where I’m trading -30 degree winter weather for rain and a mild 10 Degrees. During the winter months, I’m thinking “Costa Rica” sounds good. Lots of palm trees, warm water for white water kayaking and sunny beaches for a tan and surfing (um, and women with very little clothes).
Eat, Train, Be Well
Rob “Former Fat Guy” Cooper

Andrew @ 1:27 pm #

Hey Tom – It looks and sounds like you had a great time on vacation – even managing to work out a few times too!
How did you do that? Are gyms in the US cool with people just turning up? (I guess it’s different for you, because your physique demonstrates that you, shall we say, know your way around a gym!).
In the UK, you can’t usually just turn up at a gym and say “I’m here for a week’s vacation. Mind if I workout?” without the gym attendant saying “I have to book you in for an induction and there’s a two-week waiting list”. Even if you can show them gym memberships cards from, like, 3 different gyms you still have to have an induction session. V.V. Frustrating!!!
Anyway, good to see you blogging again! We missed you!

Tom Venuto @ 1:35 pm #

Andrew, in the States, at most gyms you can usually just walk in and pay a daily fee then waltz right in and do your thing. Sometimes you can even get a free guest pass, especially if you know someone who is a member.
The folks at World Gym charged me only $10 for the daily fee, then were kind enough to actually refund that daily fee by applying it towards the purchase of a sweatshirt. Like I said in the blog, two thumbs up for World Gym Marina Del Rey.
Gold’s charged $20 for the day, but you can’t blame em – after all, it’s “The Mecca.” Milos’s gym in Fullerton was $15 for the day.
Sometimes when I travel, I check with the hotel to see if they have any affiliation with a local health club. No such luck this time, but last year when I spent three weeks in Chicago for a training seminar, my hotel had an affiliation with the local Bally’s.
I was never a fan of Bally’s before – usually I make a Beeline for the nearest Golds, World or Powerhouse Gym, but this one particular Ballys in Chicago was brand new, well equipped and not all that different from any Gold’s Gym.
There are some clubs in the states that don’t offer daily workout fees and you can’t get in unless you join or unless you are a guest of a member. Usually those are the “snooty”, “hoity-toity”, “high-end” clubs, like a few of them here in Manhattan, which will remain nameless!
Wherever you go… you gotta train! Push ups and sit ups in the hotel room just aint gonna cut it for a serious bodybuilder!

Jessica @ 1:38 pm #

Great to have you back, Tom. Looking forward to your up coming blogs. btw, I’m training with Richie Smyth, via email and phone. He is VERY cool. Thanks for introducing me to him through your blog.

Doris Williams @ 7:32 pm #

Great to see you back Tom. I thought you disappeared off the face of the earth. But, when I got some other newsletters from you and something about a beach in Southern CA, I figured you just took a break.
Looking forward to a new year with you.
Merry Christmas and Happy 2006!!!
BTW, it’s pretty nice here in AZ (still somewhat shorts weather). No winter wonderland here.
God bless all your businesses, health, & life,

December 20, 2005

Jessica Britt @ 4:49 pm #

Hey! Yeah, my #1 role model, mentor, and go to guy is back!!I’m so glad you’re back, Tom. I never had to the desire to visit California before, but after reading your blog and seeing those pictures, I’m definitely gonna check it out some day. I’ve always loved Florida, particularly Key West. I live in the north metro Atlanta area right now and it’s in the 40’s. That’s freezin’ cold for me. No way I’d ever live up there in the northeast near you. Can’t handle that weather. After readin’ this blog I just realized that James Caan was Sonny in The Godfather, one of the best movies ever in my opinion. That’s so cool that you’ve got to meet all those people, especially the bodybuilders that were there. Awesome! I want to go to those gyms, that beach and eat at that restaurant. I’m excited for 2006 and ready to get training and eatin’! No matter where, we gotta get our workouts in! 2006, here we come! Good luck with all that you do and I’ll be loggin’ in. Can’t wait for more! 🙂

Michael @ 4:57 pm #

Tom and all,
Wow! What a great vacation! I’m jealous. 🙂 This is my first post and I’m really looking forward to participate in this blog.
I trained hard for six years straight then I fell off the wagon for the next four leading up to now, with off again and on again workouts coupled with horrible binging. I was 210 pounds with 10% bodyfat, then changed to a current 243 with almost 30% bodfat. Yikes!
I went through some really tough times of family loss followed by depression within those four years, but I have since recognized that I needed to do something about it.
Since I bought Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle (BFFM), my wife, Sophia, and I have renewed vigor and we are really looking forward to our transformations.
We have a 12 week plan and we are on our first week of our meal plan that includes your recipes; as well as, your workout regimens. The bonus recipe e-book AWESOME and we feel great already! Thank you so much for putting the information out there. 🙂
I hope all is well and God Bless us all.

December 21, 2005

JOE DANJOU @ 4:06 pm #

Glad to see you back on the blog….
When you were working hard a few months back, I asked if you had plans for a poster or photos….. has that worked out?

December 23, 2005

Tiago @ 9:50 pm #

Hey Tom, great to have you back. I can’t wait until you start blogging your Mass season workouts. I hope Jersey doesn’t lose you to Cali. I would hate to see you go, but then again I don’t blame you if you do. The Firehouse is one of a kind and I wish they had it in Jersey.
One problem comes to mind though. During the plan flight were you allowed to bring your own food? How would you have done it if it was a longer flight.
Well, i’ll keep checking for your new blog entries. I can’t wait.
P.S. Merry Christmas and Have a Happy New Year.

December 26, 2005

Sara @ 5:41 am #

Tom, this travelogue is fantastic! YOU need to write the ‘Lonely Planet’ style book for the travelling Bodybuilder. Did you have to keep pinching yourself and having ‘Oh my, I’m really in Golds Gym, Muscle Beach’ moments? (all the while maintaining your cool by not grinning ear to ear 24/7)..
And here I thought it was winter in America..
Good to have you back.

December 28, 2005

Chris @ 7:38 am #

Hi Tom,
Are the workout blogs restarting in the New Year? I’ve been checking back regularly in hope!
Hope you have a great new year and come back with some great workouts for us all to feast eyes on!

January 1, 2006

Nora @ 9:03 pm #

Hi Tom_
You are sooo inspirational!! By the way…you did amazing in your last competition. No matter what you placed, you looked amazing!!

July 20, 2011

Monica Craig @ 11:08 am #

Well everybody needs a break. But it seems you shot two birds with one stone. You went to take a break but it was on muscle beach. Just glad to see the pictures.

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