The Essential Gustavo Badell Interview: IFBB Pro Comeback 2012
It’s no secret that MuscleWeek Senior Editor Shane Ray gets around. The wives, girlfriends and ex-wives of many a Chicago bodybuilder can certainly attest to that. But what many readers may not know is that for many years, Shane was deathly afraid of flying. In fact, it wasn’t until his former girlfriend dragged him by his eyebrows to watch her compete at the 2009 USA that he finally overcame his aerophobia.
Lately, on MuscleWeek’s dime, he’s been traveling this great nation of ours meeting up with some of the largest and most interesting personalities in bodybuilding. So during a hiatus from crashing bachelorette parties with Joey Swoll and Craig Golias in Vegas, Shane sat down with an IFBB Pro who has been MIA for the past two years. Despite being a top 5 Olympian for several consecutive years, some might say that Gustavo Badell never really gained the respect that usually accompanies such a lofty position. So, drink in hand, Shane sat down in the Venetian Lobby to interview one of the top bodybuilders on the planet — Gustavo Badell.
MUSCLEWEEK: It’s an honor to have you sit down with MuscleWeek. No introduction needed. Tell us what’s new in your life. I understand you’re in Las Vegas now.
GUSTAVO BADELL: I’m in Las Vegas most of the time. I don’t know for how long, because I’m selling my house and trying to relocate to Florida. What’s new in my life is that I now have my own gym with a partner in Spain. I’m very excited to come back onstage and I’m concentrating all my energies in my prep.
MW: Las Vegas has a seriously vibrant and happening bodybuilding culture there. I don’t think it’s so much Venice Beach anymore. Is Las Vegas where you need to be training and focusing on bodybuilding? Does it not get distracting sometimes?
GB: I think Las Vegas has the most perfect fitness environment in the world. I enjoy very much preparing for contest here. I don’t get distracted in Las Vegas, actually I get more focus.
MW: The Mecca of bodybuilding gyms is Gold’s on Flamingo. LVAC being a close second. Which gym do you prefer and why? Is “Flamingo” your home?
GB: I love Gold’s Gym in Flamingo. The environment there is just fantastic! Not only for me but for anyone with a passion for the sport. I also train at the one in Eastern sometimes, which is closer to my house, or in occasion LVAC in Eastern, but there is none compared to “Flamingo”.
MW: You’ve been around the pro bodybuilding for a while. Some argue you most definitely peaking in the mid 2000’s with the 2004 & 2005 Mr. Olympia being your pinnacle. Do you feel you can duplicate that look and level of muscularity and conditioning again or are you going for something new for Gustavo Badell?
GB: After two years off stage I’m preparing for a new Gustavo Badell. I’m training hard, never cheat my diet, very strict with the plan. I have a lot of discipline and determination and with that I believe anything is possible, even to duplicate my best condition. We’ll see, but one thing is for sure, I’m hungry again and will come back strong to get my place back.
MW: Your last show was in 2009 which was The Atlantic City Pro where you placed First and then you took a surprising 13th at the Olympia. Was taking almost 2 full years off strategic and part of the master plan or were you forced to take a step back for other reasons?
GB: After the 2009 Olympia, I was very upset and disappointed because all my hard work wasn’t getting me to where I expected, so I decided to take some time off and go adventure with some business opportunities presented. It wasn’t really planned but I can tell you today that it was a good move. My body was exhausted, so was my mind so I definitely needed some time off. My body is refreshed now and responding better.
MW: Back when you were placing high at the big shows and were considered a serious threat in ANY show you would enter who was your nutritionist? Who is your nutritionist now or have you always did your own prep?
GB: I’ve been working with many nutritionist experts in the field since 2004. Pretty much every other prep has been with a different nutritionist with different philosophies and they have all been good. I have great respect for all of them who have been in my corner at some point of my career. Now, as far as training, I have always done my own thing. I have my own philosophy of training . Every athlete at this level is responsible for training and that definitely shows when you step on stage and have to pose over and over.
For this year’s Arnold, I’m prepping with my friend Chris Aceto. We are working hard, each doing its job, but also trying to enjoy the process.
MW: What prompted you to get back on stage? A burning desire to release the competitor in you or is it for the fans? Family?
GB: It was a little bit of everything. Fans had a lot to do with it, as it also did my desire to get back where I feel myself, onstage. It has also been a great motivation the challenge of been off resting for two years and get back on that strict discipline needed to compete. Not many people are able to do that so that motivates me. I want to proof to myself and everybody else that when your mind is set and determined and you give it a 100% everything is possible (as corny as it may sound).
MW: Gustavo, you’re a married man. You’ve been married to Jessica for some time now. In my experiences and travels it has taught me that serious bodybuilding and marriage mix like oil and water. How do you make it work with your wife how is it she has been supportive all of these years?
GB: It’s not easy, especially with kids, but we see it as a team work. Jessica has always liked the fitness lifestyle, by the way we met each other in a gym, so that helps a lot. Honestly, we have been married for quite some time now and I can’t remember we have had a problem or argument because of anything related to bodybuilding. We argue like any other couple do but it’s usually for other reasons. Actually I believe the sport kind of brings us closer.
MW: If you never were a professional bodybuilder what would you be doing?
GB: I think I probably would be an economist which was what I was studying in college or maybe a boxer or UFC fighter since I was also boxing when I started in bodybuilding.
MW: The IFBB has changed over the last two years. There is a new Mr. Olympia in Phil Heath and now incorporated are new Divisions such as Bikini & Physique. What are your thoughts on the theory that the IFBB is straying away from what built them in BODYBUILDING promoting the softer more lax divisions?
GB: Well, the prize money in the Olympia and Arnold for pro male bodybuilding is still the highest in the sport. Based on that I think things haven’t changed that much, at least not yet. I believe the IFBB is trying to grow and attract more fans and this new divisions bring in more variety and therefore more public and more money. But, male bodybuilding is the center, and it should always be because it’s the hardest discipline and what has inspired the others
MW: It seems less opportunity is present for professional bodybuilders to make a living in the industry. Outside the Top 5 guys placing in the money slots, the pickings are slim. Is it the general economic times or is the industry just simply evolving?
GB: Right now I’m starting again so I haven’t really paid much attention. The economy has affected other sports and pretty much everything, so it could be in part responsible. Maybe it is combination of factor.
MW: So you harbor no resentment for the Men’s Physique Guys? It appears they are landing more magazine covers and grabbing more contracts with supplement companies.
GB: No resentment, good for them! We all need to eat! I believe this is a test period for IFBB, magazines and supplement companies in an attempt to survive in this difficult times. We’ll see what happens. But, I need to say, with all due respect, that you might be able to see 1,000 great physique guys but you won’t be able to see that many top, great bodybuilders because it is just a harder discipline, it takes more hard work. Bodybuilding is about being as big as you can be with almost no fat in your body maintaining a balance in your muscle groups which is very difficult to achieve and takes more time and sacrifices. It should also have greater rewards.
MW: Speaking of supplements, let’s be honest. No brand names. No name dropping. What do you use that is Over The Counter? I saw a diet prescribed by Hany to a professional bodybuilder who I will not name who pointed out to me that NO supplements are prescribed. Just food. Are you big on using supplements, Gustavo?
GB: I do believe in supplements. Some are better, some are worse, but they help provide for the high demand of our body. I respect other competitors and other philosophies and although nothing replaces food, in my opinion supplements help.
MW: Over the last couple years we’ve seen some deaths in the competitive bodybuilding world. What kind of precautions do you take to ensure you won’t be on that list anytime soon? Everyone knows serious competitive bodybuilding has it’s risks -vs- rewards.
GB: People die everyday for many reasons regards of their lifestyle. I try to be more old school, training harder, having a healthy diet and don’t go crazy or take shortcuts. I do what I can to protect my body like going to my doctor every 12-18 months to see how everything is working. I hope God doesn’t call me yet.
MW: Consider this scenario: Your son tells you he wants to follow in your foot steps and be a serious Top Tier Professional Bodybuilder. What do you say to him?
GB: Well, I would try my best to persuade him to choose otherwise. This has been a passion for me that I decided to do for a living. I definitely will try for my kids to explore other career options.
MW: Moving on. How do you relax in Las Vegas when not in competition mode? Do you even bother with The Strip or do you pretty much keep it low key?
GB: I don’t usually visit the strip. I’m a family man and my free time in Las Vegas is to visit more parks or take a trip to LA to take them to Disney, Universal and all those nice parks.
MW: Who is your “industry wife”? I know you’re a family man and I respect that but which girl in the industry makes your blood flow? For me it’s still Monica Brant.
GB: I think they all look great, but can’t really tell you I have one.
MW: What are 3 things you never leave the house without?
GB: My cell phone, house keys and gym bag.
MW: What is your favorite thing about bodybuilding? Is it the structure of the prep? The change in yourself before your eyes?
GB: Everything. How amazing is the body how it changes when you do the right thing. But, most of all I think is the challenge it is and knowing that I’m one of the few that can do this. Not many can handle it.
MW: What can we expect from you at the 2012 Arnold Classic in Columbus, Ohio?
GB: A Gustavo that will give a 100% like he always has. I will enjoy the show and try to make it as entertaining for the fans as I can.
MW: Do you have anything you would like to plug or promote? How can someone get in touch with you for sponsorship or any opportunities for representation?
GB: People or companies interested in contacting me for guest posing, seminars or sponsorship can do so by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or can also look me up on Facebook.
Bonus Round of Rapid-Fire Questions:
Favorite Movie? The Godfather
Favorite Gym? Gold’s Flamingo
Favorite Actor? Al Pacino
Favorite Exercise? Deadlift
Favorite Cheat Food? Pasta
Favorite Clean Food? Fish
Drink of Choice? Vodka Cranberry
Favorite Travel Destination? Italy
Squats or Leg Presses: Squats
Barbells or Dumbbells: Dumbbells
MUSCLEWEEK: Thanks for joining us, Gustavo. We wish you the best of luck in 2012!
GUSTAVO BADELL: Thanks Shane. I appreciate it.