Muscleweek’s very own Senor Editor, Shane Ray has been one busy man. Between flying out to Las Vegas for nights on the town with Muscleweek sponsored model, Gizel Rodriguez and traveling the East Coast covering the Victor Martinez story it came as much relief when the Muscleweek Boss asked Shane if he would like to interview anybody in his hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Only one person came to mind: Erick Seng.
On Muscleweek’s expense account Shane Ray sat down with one of Chicago’s finest at Gibson’s Steak House on Rush st. where they dined on premium ribeye and New York strips while sipping on Merlot discussing the city, the Chicago Police Department and what bodybuilding means to Erick Seng himself.
Officer Seng. Welcome to Muscleweek. First thing is first. How the heck did a St. Patrick’s (highschool) kid from Chicago’s Northside get into this whole mess of competitive bodybuilding? natural transgression from sports or was sand kicked in your face once at North Ave Beach. Like me.
I’d say a natural transgression from sports. I was always active, but once I went to college (Western Illinois) and began to work at Powerhouse Gym (Elston&Lawrence) I got pulled into the world of bodybuilding. My first show was when I was a sophomore in college at 19, way back in 1997.
You’ve been very popular in the Chicagoland bodybuilding scene for a long time. What are your thoughts on the culture of the scene in the same city you protect? Is it as popular as it was during our glory years of 2001-2009?
LOL. I don’t think I’m popular or anything special! I just think of myself as a work-out guy who’s been competing for a long time! I think that bodybuilding isn’t as popular or hardcore as it was when I started. I remember Espn carrying the NPC National-level shows and Ifbb shows on television. The first time I saw Kevin Levrone on television was on Espn competing at the 1995 Olympia, and I was like I want to look like that! We used to have MuscleMag stores in the area to get your posing trunks and bodybuilding gear. We also actually had Powerhouse Gyms and Gnc’s that were actually geared towards bodybuilding. When I worked at the elston Powerhouse, we used to play the Mr.Olympias on all the t.v’s and you always had guys getting ready for either the Illinois or the Ironman. Those were the only 2 shows that mattered to anyone.
Now with Cross-Fit and things like MMA, it seems like the fitness industry is blowing up, but the old-school bodybuilding gym guys are kind of dying off. You don’t have the hardcore guys around in one gym. You don’t have the gym characters like the Mike Hamilton’s or Sam Urbach’s of the world. You don’t have guys that were really hardcore with their training… Now a days it’s a bunch people jumping around, punching bags, using ropes and doing some weird shit to get in shape!
What are your best memories as a bodybuilder? I remember you standing next to being compared to Phil Heath at the 2005 Jr. Nationals. I’d have to say that was one of them, right?
Yeah, I’d have to say getting 3rd at the Juniors in ’05 and getting called out in the first call out with just Heath was probably the best bodyduilding moment. I remember it like yesterday and I think that was obviously my best look I’ve ever had on stage. I’d say winning the Overall at the Ironman in 06 was big for me because that was always such a big deal with the guys I worked out with. If you won the Overall at the Illinois or the Ironman you were a good bodybuilder and gained a little gym cred. The other big thing for me was shooting for Muscle n Fitness. I remember reading the magazines when I first started, and to actually see myself in an issue was pretty cool. I was so lucky to get that opportunity.
Erick. You are endorsed by MHP. How has Gerard Dente and his company treated you all of this time? What do you like most about the company?
Gerard Dente is one of the best people I’ve ever met in the fitness industry. He has always been great to me and treated me like family since I met him in 2002. I was super lucky to meet him and get the opportunity to be in some ads and work for them on the side. I feel like I have a second set of family and friends with the guys in New Jersey that work for MHP. The best part about MHP is that I really live off their products and stand behind them! Gerard always puts out products that not only work, but really benefit the serious athlete. I bleed blue and yellow!
It is no secret that you are a Chicago Police Officer. For those reading this who doesn’t know Chicago like we do is The City of Big Shoulders as dangerous as it’s reputation? Media hype or lock your car doors no matter which neighborhood you drive through?
I always say that things can happen in any place at anytime. In any big city, you’ll always have your good parts and shady parts. Chicago obviously has some rough areas, but its about being aware of your surroundings at all times. If you’re on the west or south sides of Chicago, you obviously have to keep your eyes open. But on the other hand, compared to some of the other cities I’ve had the chance to visit like Detroit, Newark, parts of L.A. and Miami, I’d say that Chicago on the whole is safe and one of the best cities in the world.
What made you want to be a police officer? Please don’t tell me because Ronnie Coleman once was.
No. I’ve always wanted to work for Chicago. I’ve had family and life-long friends that were on the job, and its just something I’ve always wanted to do since I can remember.
Erick. Most serious competitive bodybuilders would rather not work a job like being a cop in a big city nor not even hold down a job at all for that matter just so they can strictly focus on their protein intake and their next workout. How were you not able to get sucked into the scene so hard like many we know and keep yourself so level headed putting a career in front of their next show?
It’s what you make of it and how you approach the sport. If you want to go out and put everything into becoming a pro, do it. I would never discourage anyone from doing anything they want to pursue as far as a career choice. You have to do what makes you happy, but at the same time, you have to keep things in perspective and be smart about the decisions you make. If you’re someone that has horrible genetics and $20 in your savings, making a run at the Ifbb might not be the best route for you. Bodybuilding and working out is a passion of mine, but it’s a hobby to me first and foremost. I think by having my career and bodybuilding as hobby, they both automatically balance out my life because neither takes it over completely!
I have to imagine dieting for a show and working long days through a long work week is tough. Believe me, I know. How do you get through a prep when timing is essentially everything. It isn’t like you can tell your sargent to hold while you get in your next meal. How do you adapt?
Dieting is hard period. It can be a little tougher with work, but I try not to let it bother me and just roll with the punches. Everyone I have worked for and with have always been beyond supportive. They’ve encouraged me to do my best and have looked out for my well being! If it gets tough, I always say that I’m competing and dieting because I WANT to compete. No one is forcing you to diet, so why be an asshole and make everyone around you miserable.
Some of your critics have said you could never win a pro card due to the nature of your job. What do you have to say about that?
I’m at the point now in my life where I’m a little older. Competing is even more for fun me now and a tool to motivate myself in the gym. It’s pretty much going to be the Team U, or the masters in a couple years, or some local stuff. If it ever happened great, if it doesn’t great, but I wouldn’t say it’s the nature of the job as to why I didn’t max out my potential! There’s so many things that go into that process you could never give one reason as to why it happened or why it didn’t. I’ve had a blast with bodybuilding and if I never competed ever again, I’d be happy with what I’ve been able to accomplish!
On the topic of challenges. You are a married man who has a wife also involved with the bodybuilding industry and is a competitor herself. She is also a detective with the Chicago Police Department. Describe how that can be challenging. Ever any fights over the last chicken breast or have you found a way to keep the ship smooth sailing without any “competitive turbulance”.
There’s never competitive turbulance. I’m the type of guy that doesn’t like drama and will be the last one to start a fight. I think of myself as a very chill and laid back person. You could take the last chicken breast, and you wouldn’t hear a peep outta me! I’d just buy some more food and start cooking!
Facebook is infested to the gills with every weirdo, creeper, schmoe and pervert in the galaxy. Do you often receive private e-mails from these types with bizarre requests or propositions? How do you handle them?
I’ve always gotten weird emails from people all over the world, especially when I was younger and just starting out. I just ignore them, or say thanks but no thanks.
How does the police force treat you because of your size? Sorry but most COPS I see are bloated sacks of shit. Are you the guy they send in first when a door is broken down or when your team has to apprehend a suspect?
Everyone with the force has always been cool and respectful with me. I don’t think of myself as some huge guy though, but I am the “ram” guy for my team when it comes to search warrants which means that I’m the guy breaking down the door! It’s a lot of fun and a rewarding career.
I have to imagine your stature and muscularity can serve you well in your line of work. Has anybody ever surrendered to you immediately or do you find that people you may have to arrest want to step to you more and challenge you to prove something?
I’ve had both situations. Usually when someone really doesn’t want to go back to jail, it doesn’t matter how big, fast or strong you are, they’re going to run and fight their ass off not to get caught!
Some argue bodybuilding at the higher levels of competition are so over the top with dabbling in illegal activities and using boatloads of illicit drugs. Can one even compete and be competitive anymore these days without it?
I think with what the Pro’s look like, that question kind of answers itself with a probably not. That’s the huge moral question people have to answer if they want to compete competitively at the higher levels of the sport.
What are your thoughts on Men’s Physique? Lots of guys are making the switch and rightfully so. You once told me a judge recently suggested you make the flip and de-muscle a little. Where do you stand with that?
That was brought to my attention last year, but I don’t think that it would be for me. That being said, if someone in the gym came up to me and said they wanted to do Physique, I would say cool and be supportive of that person. It’s a way for the promoters and organization to make more money, and it gives people an option to compete and get in shape with the way the want to look. So even though it’s not me, you won’t hear me bash it either.
Do you work with a nutritionist or do you pretty much do everything yourself?
Yeah I’ve worked with Dr. Willes Ko, my friend, chiropractor and training partner! He is unbelievable with diets and training. I’ve done diets for others and for myself, with me having more success helping others. I think when you do the diet yourself, you over think things and over diet or slack. When someone is advising you, the stress is taken out which makes it easier!
Okay. Who in the industry gets your “blood flowing”. For me it is still Monica Brant. I know there has to be someone that does it for you.
That’s an easy one, my wife Michele Wood…. Back in the day I remember a girl named Brandy Dahl who was in all the mags, who looked good, but I don’t think she competed.
Supplements. Which are your 3 staples you always use?
MHP- Dark Matter for post workout
MHP- Isofast for my isolate
MHP- Probolic for my night time protein!
Where does Erick Seng see himself in 5 years?
Well, I’d like to be happy, healthy and injury free with hopefully a growing family!
So what is next for you? Rumors around XSport tell me that Team Universe or the 2012 North Americans in on your agenda.
No plans… Yet
Is there anything you would like to promote? How would one contact you for endorsements or any opportunity?
Facebook is probably the easiest way to contact me, and MHP has a sick new pre-workout called Fit-x “trainer” and post workout product called Fit-x “power”… Check out getmhp.com!
Favorite Movie: I have a ton and I don’t think I could name one, but the last good movie I saw was “Drive”, it was a bad-ass flick.
Favorite Chicago Restaurant: Uncle Juilio’s Hacienda on North Ave and Clybourn
Favorite Song: Another hard one, but I’ve always been a house music guy. I’d say my favorite three artists right now are Deadmau5, Wolfgang Gartner and Skrillex, who are kind of electro-dubstep-house guys!
Favorite Gym: Gold’s Gym Venice California
Favorite Exercise: Deadlifts
Sox or Cubs: Cubs
Deep Dish Pizza or Thin Slice: Absolutely Deep Dish!!!!!