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Chaos and Pain

  /  tips   /  Just How Badly Do You Want to Win? Not as Badly as Pete Grymkowski Did.

Just How Badly Do You Want to Win? Not as Badly as Pete Grymkowski Did.

The 1970s bodybuilding scene was more wide open than Mexican prison and more fun than a midget orgy on Ecstasy- the dudes who competed did so out of love for the sport and whatever personal weirdness drove them into lifting in the first place, and making money was the last goddamned thing on their mind. They were on Earth to build a badass body, party their everloving asses off, and leave a good looking corpse. Nothing more. It’s likely for this reason that we have such compelling stories- guys like Pat Neve and Steve Michalik, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dave Draper, and Pete “I’ll eat day old hamburger and sleep under a pier so I can afford the ten grams of gear I do a day and all of the weed I can smoke” Grymkowski.

This was the cause of a big divide in the sport. Up until 1980, the Mr. America contest was the premier bodybuilding title in the US, but the all-American, true blue, rock, flag and eagle image of the winner of that show was fading in the footloose and carefree 1970s. Chicks were running around braless, everyone was banging nonstop, and that was pissing the old school bodybuilders off, a group that hilariously included a bonafide psychopath named Steve Michalik. According to Michalik, the AAU needed a renewed commitment to its ideals and a leader, and Arnold was screwingup the entire sport single-handedly.

“Arnold had a chance to be that guy, but he became the other guy.  Pot smoking, promiscuous, fun loving, and wearing rags and stuff.  And so everybody followed.  They all became sheeple.  You know when one sheep falls off a cliff, they all follow him off the cliff.  They all became sheeple.  There was no firm leader to rein it in and say, ‘Wait a minute.  You guys can’t be in this contest.  you’ve got eight hundred tattoos.’ They got guys now where their whole faces are tattooed and scars and swastikas.  Forget about it!  If you had a pimple you lost the Mr. America.  When Eric Pederson competed against Steve Reeves, they were tied for an hour.  They found a pimple on Pederson’s leg, and Steve Reeves became Mr. America.  Yeah, that’s how critical it was back then.  So that’s what happened… the leadership changed” (Fair 207).
Dude’s arms were bananas and we’ve never before heard of him… because of acne? Insane.

Clearly, it’s bizarre that a violent maniac like Michalik was moaning about how conformist the non-conformists were, and how that eroded the sanctity of the bodybuilding scene, but that’s how weird bodybuilding was in the 1970s. And this is the environment in which we find one of the most badass rags-to-riches stories in American history- the story of 1970’s mass monster Pete Grymkowski. With a combination of insane work ethic, absolutely ludicrous drug regimens, and a “you’re gonna have to lend me a lot of damns to give because my account is way overdrawn” style attitude, Grymko stands heads and shoulders among his peers for both his single-minded obsession with bodybuilding greatness and the financial success that arose therefrom.

“Wayne Demelia was going nuts looking for me. He found me in my hotel room, as I was “Getting ready for the show.” You know how I was getting ready? With four or six IV’s of steroids running into my veins, simultaneously. That was my training! I had a suitcase FULL of drugs. Guys asked if I was selling. “Selling?” Hell no, this was all for me. In a few days, it’d all be gone!”

In 1970, Grymko entered the AAU Junior Mr. USA and was served a shit sandwich instead of a placing. Though he’d been training like an absolute psychopath at the local YMCA gym with a crew of lunatic, mobster Russians, he lacked the size of the other competitors.After asking around, he discovered that everyone in the competition but him was at least running dbol, so he went home and started asking family members in the medical industry what was doing with this wonder drug about which he’d heard. After speaking with an endocrinologist and Ken Waller (of Pumping Iron fame), he came to the realization that Anavar would give him the results he wanted, because Dianabol caused too much water retention.

“Here is what he sent me: 12 big boxes, each filled with 120 bottles of Anavar tablets, 100 pills per bottle. So we are talking about 1,500 bottles of Anavar courtesy of the United States Postal Service. I’d simply take a handful of tablets before each meal, and it was go time” (Dusa).

It wasn’t just Grymko who was curious- all of the powerlifters, weightlifters, and bodybuilders with whom he trained in Rochester wanted in on it. They started making weekly pilgrimages to York Barbell, a ridiculously long five hour ride to train. There, they picked up training tips (Olympic weightlifting lifting legend Norbert Shemansky actually told Grymko that once he figured out his gear regimen he was gonna crush everyone in bodybuilding) and information on stack and new Russian compounds, and the entire Rochester crew started packing on mass like crazy.

Say what you will about blasting that much gear, but holy hell it worked for this guy.

At that point, the guys needed their own space to train- rubbing elbows with the plebes was screwing up their workouts and sucking the awesome out of the place. They purchased a German-American community center and turned it into their own training facility, at which point they really started making gains. And Grymko wasn’t shy about saying how those gains were made, either- whereas other builders were either claiming natty or small dosages, he fessed up to using two grams of orals and injectables daily. Yeah- that was his starter cycle- he didn’t see a point in messing around with piddly shit when a bottle of anavar cost him $15. And if you’re inclined to call bullshit, there are the medical records to prove it- Grymko and his training partner actually volunteered to be studied by doctors at the University of Rochester Medical Center to examine the effects of megadosing performance enhancing drugs on the human body, and it seemed to the doctors that the extremely liberal use of anti-estrogens by both guys is what preserved their sexual potency and overall health. For those of you who are freaking out about PCT with some bootleg orals like DMZ, just know that the king of megadosing fathered two kids when he was in his sixties- if that’s not virility, I don’t know what is.

“Dr. Murray Israel told me never to take Anavar alone. I learned some about Deca Durabolin injections. I got married in 1971, and my wife’s uncle was a doctor in Rome. I knew one of Arnold’s favorite drugs was Primobolin, and I called to ask him abot the Deca and Primobolin. He said they were hopping up animal feed with different types of steroids in Europe, and this also involved Russian reasearch. Beagle dogs were given 3,000 mgs of steroids per kilogram of bodyweight per day, and they suffered NO side effects. There was Orgabolin from Russia, and also some round pellets in oil which came 12 to a unit. I decided to start taking nine shots per day along with five bottles of orals per day. This was a total of 10,000 miligrams per day. I took two types of testosterone, as well as Anavar and Nilavar. I balsted up to 262 pounds. NO side effects, ever. In 1972 on was on this doasge for one year straight. The Russians as well as Dr. Horowitz from Poland suggested to keep dosages high all the time to keep the steroid receptor sites open. So, from 71-73, I did this. I started at 3,000 mgs per day, working my way up to 10,000 mgs per day and staying there. Of course, I’d take Clomid and Nolvadex to keep my natural androgens up” (Dusa).

He went on, saying:

“My uncle and sister, both docs, agreed that the super high dosages of steroids protected me…NOT cycling helped me. Cycling caused deficiencies in the organs. I’d drink beet juice and cranberry juice to flush the bladder and liver and keep my acid levels down” (Dusa).

Grymko’s Contest History


Mr Eastern America – AAU, Winner Junior Mr America – AAU, 9th (won by eventual Mr. O Chris Dickerson) Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 5th

Grymko legit looks like he’s about to tear someone to pieces after losing to Viator.


Mr America – AAU, 2nd (lost to Arthur Jones’ disciple Casey Viator) Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 5th Junior Mr USA – AAU, Winner (beat Michalik) Junior Mr USA – AAU, Most Muscular, 1st


Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 1st Mr America – AAU, 2nd (lost to Michalik) Junior Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 1st Junior Mr America – AAU, Winner


Mr America – AAU, 2nd (lost to Jim Morris) Mr America – AAU, Most Muscular, 2nd


Mr America – AAU, Tall, 3rd Mr America – IFBB, Heavyweight, 1st Mr World – IFBB, Heavyweight, 1st


Professional World Cup – IFBB, 4th


Florida Pro Invitational – IFBB, 5th Pittsburgh Pro Invitational – IFBB, 3rd

Due to his completely open stance regarding both weed and gear, Grymko had a tough time with the AAU, who literally masturbated to Captain America comics with fistfuls of Crisco and apple pie. They wanted no part of Grymko’s image, so they made sure to screw him in the placings harder than a cute kid at a NAMBLA conference at every possible opportunity. In 1972, Grymko crushed Steve Michalik (and eventual WSM mainstay Odd Haugen) on pure mass at the Junior Mr. America, and was the easy favorite to win the Mr. America that year.  Michalik, however, saw that the judges were leaning more toward symmetry and away from anything associated with Grymko, so he pared down his physique to natty bro, Steve Reeves-esque dimensions and shrunk his arms from 22″ to 19″ to match his calves and neck.  By presenting the image of a born-again Reeves, Michalik won by a huge margin, though Grymko won most muscular man, the crowd’s hearts, and certainly more ass at the afterparty than Mitch the snitch, in addition to placing higher than powerlifting’s bench beast Bill Seno, eventual IFBB president Jim Manion, wrestler and bodybuilder Don “The Ripper Ross, and 80’s pro bodybuilding mainstay Bob Birdsong.

“You know, going back to that AAU stuff. Arthur Jones told me that Steve Michalik was going back to the judges and whining to them about my blatent steroid use. Lol, Michalik-he was not a friend” (Dusa).
Just absolutely retarded judging. Grymko makes Jim Morris look like a goddamned middleweight.

In 1973 Grymko lost the Mr. America to Jim Morris, mostly based on the interview that contestants did before the show.  Grymko was viewed as overeager, and Morris was more “well educated, mannerly, articulate, and poised in the interview process” (Fair 208).  He later explained he was “a little sick of the old style of judging where every guy had to be Mr. Prim ‘n’ Proper.  And you all had to talk nice to the judges.  At the time I thought that half of the judges were homosexuals anyway” (Ibid).

By 1974, our boy was getting impatient- he was clearly outclassing everyone in bodybuilding at the time, but getting none of the accolades. Bear in mind that the Mr. America competition in 1973 boasted over forty competitors, while the Mr. Olympia only had three- Arnold, Franco, and Serge Nubret. Grymko’s condition was better than all three, and he drastically outclassed them in mass. Wondering what in the unholy hellhe would have to do to get his due, Grymko asked Arthur Jones for advice. The father of Nautilus and progenitor of the Heavy Duty training system said that he’d just have to pay his dues for a couple of years and wait. Discontented with the idea that he should play second fiddle to bodybuilders to whom his physique was clearly superior, Grymko said “too hell with that nonsense,” cycled off gear, and sat out competition until 1977.

At the time, he was still training like a maniac in his Rochester gym, The Turner Club, which was in many respects very much like Michalik’s gym. Instead of one percenters, however, Grymko’s gym member roll contained a bunch of guys linked to the mob, and the gym itself was mob owned.

“Well, the mob came along and wanted to take it over, pay the rent and sponsor me in shows. I agreed, as I still had my clean up business. I was still training five hours per day with my monstrous daily doasges. I did quit in 1974 because the Feds wanted me to testify against the mob. I took off for Orlando straight away. You know, I’d have ended up dead” (Dusa).
That is one hell of a getaway car. Literally every bit of the story of this man’s life is epic.

In a move decidedly unlike that of Takeshi Snitch N9ne or whatever other rapper that might spring to mind, Grymko was no snitch. With the feds cracking down on the mob in Rochester, Grymko noped the hell out of the entire Northeast, skipping his court date, and dropping down to around 190lbs to skew his appearance. Rather than catch a bullet for snitching, Grymko decided to pick up a federal warrant. With his future business partner in tow, Grymko threw on a pair of painter’s pants and a tshirt, grabbed two sweatshirts and forty two bucks ($176 in today’s dollars) and bombed down to Florida in Grymko’s 1965 Corvette on February 9, 1977.

“While driving through the Pennsylvania mountains, a chunk of ice blew out the brakes of their car. They initially thought about turning back, then simply took the incident as a sign to keep going and not to stop. How they actually halted the car was by gearing down and then using their feet outside of the doors” (Roach 262).

Once in Florida, the two bros ended up at Orange Avenue Gym. Rocky Thorne, the gym’s owner, allowed them to sleep on the roof and soon had all of Grymko’s custom equipment shipped to his gym from Rochester. Grymko upped his dosage to three grams of gear a day by mid-summer, and three weeks out from the contest ramped it up to an absolutely ridiculous ten grams a day. Since I know how apt the internet is to call bullshit on anything and everything, here is his daily dosage as reported by historian Randy Roach:

  • 27cc of injectables, delivered in nine shots of 3ccs apiece
  • 3 bottles of Maxibolin
  • 3 bottles of Winstrol
  • 3 bottles of Anavar

I realize how preposterous that sounds, but the man had no reason to lie, and there are plenty of accounts in the powerlifting world of crazy high dosages in that era. And it was those dosages, his unique diet, and his insane training regimen that led to him stepping onstage June 18, 1977 at 242 lbs… fully 50lbs of rip heavier than he was four months earlier. And it was nothing but sheer, unstoppable, iron will that drove the man.

Famed powerlifter and pro wrestler Bruno Sammartino slept on a park bench the night before he competed in his first powerlifting meet… only to be outdone by Grymko sleeping on the roof of this gym while training to win the Mr. America. We’re all softer than baby shit by comparison. I’m buying a tent, or something.
“I went down there with a big old box of ‘roids, slept on the roof of a gym and trained only at night. I’d eat one food meal a day long with five protein drinks. I’d undergo hypnosis to get through utterly brutal workouts. I had pride-look. I quit high school, built my own businesses, but the Feds wanted me. The had warrants out on me for me to come back to NY and testify. I came down to Orlando at 185 pounds. When I left for California four months later, I was 258 and cut up, diced I tell you” (Dusa).

As if being on the run from the feds and sleeping in the elements like a goddamned Viking wasn’t brutal enough, Grymko upped the ante again and moved to Santa Monica.

“As soon as I got out to Cali, well, I arrived with 63$ in my pocket. I slept under the Santa Monica Pier. I would eat day old McDonald’s hamburgers out of dumpsters. I’d wash my clothes and bathe in the sea. Michael, I didn’t want to even own a car or have a job. I just wanted to be training all the time. Train all the time and evade the Feds. And the bodybuilders-well, I had little confidence. I’d see [Tom] Platz. [Mike] Mentzer. Roger [Callender] and Danny [Padilla]. I didn’t think I could beat any of them. Dr. Peter Siegel, the hypnotist, noticed my lack of confidence and hypnotized me. It made a huge difference. At the America I posed great and won my class-it was like night and day” (Dusa).
I need a set of those sunglasses. And a pair of those shorts.

Pete Grymkowski’s Utterly Insane 1977 Training Routine

Never a slave to routine, Grymko’s training evolved and adapted throughout his life. When he trained in Rochester, his routine was essentially a powerlifting program- harder than a lesbian’s clit at a softball tournament, longer than an old school Stephan King novel, and more brutal than a home video by the Dneprepetrovsk maniacs set to Hammer Smashed Face on repeat. Though he trained up to six days a week, the program with which he gained the most size the quickest seems to have been a four day a week push pull program. He trained almost exclusively at night, between midnight and 7 AM, and put in between three and seven hours at the gym on those days. Having trained with the Russians must have filled him with the maniacal fervor for which Slavs are well known, and Grymko went all in.

Grymko arrived at his split after lengthy discussions with the doctors running the steroid research program at Strong Memorial Hospital in 1974. He was told that he needed at least 72 hours to go through a full recovery cycle after training, as those docs believed that recovery was not markedly improved by exogenous test. Thus, he set up his training like this:

Monday– All pushing movements

Tuesday– All pulling movements

Wednesday– Cardio

Thursday– Push

Friday– Pull

Saturday– Cardio

Sunday– Off

Tragically, I could not come up with much in the way of specifics for Grymko’s routine. I saw a post on a message board about him using an Arthur Jones split, but it seemed both wildly out of character and impossible to corroborate with other sources, so I’m only relating what I know to be fact. The man trained heavy, and he trained high volume. According to Grymko himself,

“I’d fix a 110 pound dumbell to my waist, and do chins behind and in front of the neck for 20 minutes straight. This would stretch my clavicles. I did 540 pound inclines, 500 pound press behind the neck. With the power rack and my “rarefied air” dosages, this just stretched my bones. I wore a size 60 coat in 1972-73″ (Dusa).

With that, here’s his almost fifty set chest routine, which was just a small part of his Monday and Thursday workouts, along with quads, shoulders, and triceps (Sprague 254).


Incline Bench Press (45°)– 10 x 8 (up to 320lbs)

Incline Bench Press (65°)– 7 x 7-10

Decline Press – 6 x 7-9

{Decline Flye – 5 x 15

{Incline Flye – 5 x 15

Incline Dumbbell Press – 4 x 12-15

{High Cable Crossover – 6 x 15-20

{Low Cable Crossover – 6 x 15-20

Those swarthy little chainsmoking alcoholics actually train seven workouts a day in two blocks of 3.5 hours a day, whereas Grymko would have trained in two or three blocks a day, four times a week.

Lest you think that Grymko had his nose to the grindstone for seven hours straight every night, you should realize that his training days were set up far more like a Bulgarian or Chinese weightlifter’s day than your hour a day a few times a week- he trained off and on throughout the night as he “worked” at the gym.

“I was still cleaning the gym, moving equipment around, just so I could train seven hours straight-under hypnosis of course. I’d do 100 sets per body part-NO pain. Robby and Lisa Lyon watched me one day. I was doing inclines with 540 pounds…and I HAD to finish the set. Hypnosis told me this. It took me four minutes to do my final rep, but I did it” (Dusa).

Grymko’s Carnivore Diet

Though Grymko was a high school dropout, he was no dummy, and his diet reflected his nature- brutal, simple, and well informed. Seemlessly blending evolutionary science with what he had learned in conversations with doctors during the steroid study in which he participated, Grymko developed a completely unique approach to bodybuilding diets. Ultimately, he arrived at a single massive feeding period a day, supported by five protein shakes. His logic was that like other apex predators humans should eat once per day, but because he was using such massive dosages of steroids, he could assimilate far more protein than the average human and needed to supplement his feeding frenzy with periodic shakes.

Using this system, his macros 65% pro / 18% cho / 17% fat- for each 100g of protein he consumed, he required 30 grams of carbs and 15 grams of fat. He’d awaken at 11AM, take his first three shots of gear, then lay in the sun until early afternoon. At 4PM he would take his next three shots and begin his feeding frenzy. Protein shakes would be drunk pre- and post-workout, then whenever else he deemed them necessary, and consisted of water, milk and egg protein powders, up to a dozen raw eggs (except pre-workout, which replaced the fats with an amino acid solution called Aminosol), and fish oils. If you’re wondering why he braved salmonella with the eggs, it wasn’t because he had a hardon for Rocky- it was because he believed heat denatured the protein in eggs and destroyed the biotin in it, which had a role in cholesterol assimilation. What he didn’t know, however, is that the avidin in raw eggs binds and blocks the biotin from absorption anyway, but that wasn’t the point- the point is that Grymko would do whatever was necessary to win.

Stalking the beach like a lion staring down a herd of water buffalos , the man scavenged harder than a hyena at a Congolese war crime site- he snagged day old burgers from the nearby McDonald to supplement the food he’d managed to procure by hook or crook. During those three hour frenzies, he scarf beef, eggs, milk, fish, and chicken- whatever he could find to fill the yawning void in his stomach, fit his macros, and fuel his workout. If he felt himself lagging during a workout, he’d even take glucose tabs to get the job done. He was a machine, and that machine required a shitload of fuel to get the job done.

Grymko’s Death Wish-Meets-Rags-to-Serious-Goddamned-Riches Happy Ending

After snagging the IFBB Mr. America crown, Grymko found himself in a bit of a pickle- he was fresh out of anti-estrogens, and apparently had already ransacked everyone’s reserves in the greater LA area. As a result, he showed up watery as hell for the AAU America show and got his ass kicked, placing 6th overall and 3rd in the tall class. Burned out, he didn’t want to compete again that year but was convinced by the owner of Gold’s Gym, Ken Sprague, to enter the Mr. World in Acapulco in September, which he won handily. He competed three more times after that, showing up to contests days earlier than everyone else and laying in a hotel hooked up to bags of every conceivable concoction he thought could give him the edge in competition. Grymko’s suitcases of medical gear and drugs were so ridiculous that the IFBB president Wayne DeMilia remarked after walking into Grymko’s room that he felt like he walked into a high school chemistry lab (Roach 266). Grymko, however, gave zero shits about anyone’s impression of him because of his drug use- he only cared about looking his best and representing as hard as he possibly could.

Big as hell Manny Perry (L), who replaced Grymko as Lou Ferrigno’s (R) stunt double.

In 1979, however, everything changed.

“We all went out to lunch one day, Jim Manion, Ken Sprague, others. Jim Manion was supposed to buy Gold’s from Ken. This was 1978 when the NPC started. About ten of us went back to Ken’s-me and Manny Perry ended up in the alley, smoking a jay. I laugh when I think about this-at the time, I was Lou’s double on the Hulk. But I spent the first day-14 hours just sitting there with caked on green makeup. I offered the job to Manny as I had just quit. Manny was like, ‘I can’t do that-I’m black!’ I told him it was makeup and he got the job! So all of a sudden we hear a commotion in the house. Manion and Sprague are fighting in the kitchen. Manion took off, leaving his wife and saying, ‘Fuck these guys.’ Two other guys wanted to buy it, but so did I. Marion Sprague, Ken’s wife, liked me and wanted me to get it. Ken said whoever got him a 50K down payment first would win. This had to be followed by a second payment of 50K about a year later. I had 27 thousand dollars saved for my daughter’s college fund. I called Ed Conners and Denny Doyle and asked them to buy in with me. We got the money together and we got it. You know, the wheels were turning in my head. At the time, I was doing posings all over the world, and with the advent of Pumping Iron, everyone everywhere wanted to know of the Mecca of Gold’s. I thought, ‘What about people who can’t get there? I’ve got to buy it and franchise!’ About a year later, Doyle wanted to cash out to buy his daughter a car. I called Tim Kimber, who had just literally put 30 thousand dollars down on a new house. I told him if he could get the money back, there’d be a spot for him. He did and we had him run the front office, Ed handled the banking, and I was on the road. It was a spiritual time, how everything fell into place” (Dusa).

At the time, Grymko’s insane efforts were paying off massively- he was making $10k a week in cash for guest posing in Europe and sending it home in duffel bags covered in t-shirts. With that money he was able to throw in on the gym and keep it afloat, then grow it in the first year. As with anything in Grymko’s life, however, success didn’t last- Joe Gold and Arnold were working together on World’s Gym, and wanted Gold’s out of business. Their other partner, the murdering actor Robert Blake, purchased the building in which Gold’s operated and triple d the rent, which left Grymko and his partners in a massive bind. It being the 80s, however, Grymko was able to take matters into his own hands in a way that would have kept Chuck Bronson’s dick hard for months if he’d known about it.

“I put Derek Barton, Tim Kimber and Joe Bucci together as a team. Derek became president of the Chamber of Commerce, which allowed him to keep the cops off me while I ‘negotiated’ with neighborhood crack houses. We wanted to open in the neighborhood, and there were five very bad, seedy crack houses in the way. I walked in, strapped obviously with a machine pistol. ‘I’m here to talk business,’ is what I announced. I said I wanted to open a gym there, and the crack houses had to go. Larry Fields was the guy who owned this real estate, and I offered if I could clean up the mess, would he give us a building for the gym six months rent free? He basically said he’d kiss my ass if I could do that. So there were a bunch of folks all about. I told them we had to get the homeless element corrected. We could be friends or enemies, either way, the crack heads had to go. I said they could move a few blocks away, RIGHT NOW. How hard could it be to set up shop as a crack house? C’mon man. Y’all gotta move.”

“My second wife, Linda, a great person, she had my back. She was with me and strapped with an Uzi. No nonsense bro. One guy, packing about 550 pounds, said, ‘Man, I will be gone!”‘Another: ‘What if we don’t want to cooperate?’ I told him he could walk out or he would of course be carried out. I expect them all to be gone. I didn’t hope.”

Who in the hell would say no to this man? And big ups to Michelle Beuthling for this shopped pic of Grymko.

Successful people EXPECT good things to happen. Movement. I wanted it and got it.

“They offered me a stake in the crack outfit, but I said, ‘Are you crazy? I don’t do crack, I just smoke pot.’ So this became the next home for Gold’s Gym, which we started to franchise. But there was a rude awakening. To franchise internationally, you must register in every territory, which was prohibitively expensive to do. Liability abounded as well. If a club went bankrupt, they could sue me personally for damages. We decided to make things simple with the help of my brother, Paul, who held an NYU degree in marketing. We went into licensing instead of franchising. Any products sold by clubs must be purchased through me, but, the clubs could also sell OTHER products as well. It also gave us the right to go into territories for premise use only. This helped me get into department stores. My uncle was the VP of Abercrombie and Fitch. Dennis Tinnerino had contacts with Macy’s, Dick’s, Nordstroms, Walmart. All of a sudden, we had 11,000 stores globally selling products” (Dusa).
These pictures make me think what I am missing in my routine is a goddamnedmustache.

Fast forward twenty years, and Grymko decided it was time to sell the club after open heart surgery, a move he profoundly regrets. Though the sale netted Grymko and his partners somewhere between 50 and 100 million bucks, the people who bought the club jacked up the prices on everything, turned the franchise into a shadow of what it once was, and basically shit all over a professional bodybuilder’s dream of having his bodybuilding mecca easily accessible to people all over the nation. Instead, what he got was cookie-cutter “training spaces” afraid of high insurance costs and big weights, run by greedy sonsabitches who never set foot on a bodybuilding stage or a powerlifting platform, and to him, that wasn’t worth what he earned in the sale.

“They raised the [franchise fee] fee to 100K [it had been $1500]. All of our prime people got disgusted with Gold’s when they took over. Their goal is to push the independent owners out. They are much more profitable when owned corporately. Half of them are now corporate and they alone generate 650 million dollars annually. “I tell you, I wish I never sold. Ever. Our dream is now ashes. Montanari’s [legendary hardcore gym that had wanted to go Gold’s but went Powerhouse after the sale]-great people. I wanted to keep it great for our owners. I was making the most money from the stores and tees, so I said let’s have NO fee for anyone with us five years or more” (Dusa).

So, there you have Pete Grymkowski- Mr. America, Mr. World, 1970’s mass monster, Gold’s Gym Owner 1979 – 1999, sponsor of UFC 1, 2 & 3, multi-millionaire, and Uzi toting nemesis of crack dealers. When he wanted something, he went for it and let absolutely nothing stand in his way. The next time someone tells you they’ve tried everything and nothing worked, tell them to shut the hell up, because they’ve never slept on a gym roof or under a pier or eaten day old McDonald’s burgers in prior of their dreams. They’ve never formulated a new and bizarre diet, trained 28 hours a week, or pointed an Uzi in the face of a crack dealers to get what they wanted, and they’ve certainly never tried taking what even the most gassed up lifters take in a week every day for a goddamned year. I’m not saying steroids are for everyone, either- I’m just saying that if you’re not getting the results you want, it’s likely just because you’re a pussy who doesn’t want it badly enough.

No more excuses. It’s time to stop screwing around. Let’s get it.


Dusa, Michael.  Conversation # 35-Pete Grymkowski, Mr. World and Gold’s Gym Genius, with an assist by Roger Callard, Mr. America.  Reprinted from original.  Hardcore-Underground.  30 Jul 2016.  Web.  22 Apr 2019.

Fair, John D. Mr. America: The tragic history of a bodybuilding icon.  Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015.

Grimek, John C. 1972 Mr. America report. Reprinted from Muscular Development, Sep 1972. Muscle Memory. Web. 26 Apr 2019.

Grymkowski, Peter, Edward Connors, Tim Kimber, and Bill Reynolds. The Gold’s Gym Training Encyclopedia. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1984.

Roach, Randy. Muscle, Smoke, and Mirrors, Vol. II. Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2011.

Sprague, Ken and Bill Reynolds. The Gold’s Gym Book of Bodybuilding. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1983.

Washington Post.  Two franchisees buy out Gold’s Gym.  SF Gate.  27 Oct 1999.  Web.  24 Apr 2019.

Weider, Joe and Bill Reynolds. Joe Weider’s Ultimate Bodybuilding. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1988.

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