“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” — Mark Twain

Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger; look at everything he has done since growing up poor in a tiny Austrian village. See all the bodybuilding titles he won, all the movies he starred in, the hundreds of millions of dollars he made, the political office he now holds and the influential national figure he’ll be in the 2008 presidential election. See the enormous legend growing right there in front of you: One of the largest yet perhaps most improbable icons the world has ever seen — maybe even the most recognizable person on the planet.

But for a better perspective you must look through the lens of a movie camera. The naked eye won’t work — it would never believe what it was seeing. No way, your eyes would tell you, that this man’s story actually occurred the way it did. Only in a movie would this happen, and only in the most unbelievable of fantasy tales. Through a camera lens it’s easier to understand, even if for only a couple of hours, that, sure, maybe it could’ve happened. That’s the only way you’ll be able to put Arnold’s story in context. In fact, he feels the same way.

“I still look back today,” he remarks about his incredible life journey, “and say to myself, ‘How did it happen? How did that become a reality?’” Through a series of events that can be told only as if scripted for a movie, that’s our contention. So sit back, relax and enjoy the picture.


Summer 1962. Fourteen-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger walks into a gym for the first time in his hometown of Graz, Austria. The place is very primitive, like some sort of torture chamber or dungeon. Weightlifters are doing clean and jerks and presses and squats on a weightlifting platform. You can hear the humming of quiet conversations, and every so often someone screams loudly in the middle of a set of squats or snatches. Outside of that, very little idle chitchat takes place. The walls of the gym are filled with chalk. In one small area, for instance, “Clean-and-Jerk 20 sets” is written on the wall. Underneath that, white chalk lines are drawn to tally how many sets have been performed. Other lifting stations have different colored chalk on the walls for different exercises, all serving as archaic training logs.

For the remainder of this scene and the rest of our extensive Arnold coverage – including past Arnold covers and a tear-out poster – pick up the July issue of Muscle & Fitness, on newsstands July 2.