January 19, 2008

On January 5, while visiting relatives in Ohio, Peter Putnam connected with a name from bodybuilding’s past, hoping it will help his future: Mike Francois.

“Mike Francois was a guy I always looked up to,” says Putnam, who frequently visits in-laws in Francois’ home state of Ohio. “The first issue of FLEX I ever looked at was the August 1997 issue with Dorian [Yates] and Mike on the cover training back.” The two connected after Putnam sent Francois an email asking if the two could meet. Francois responded, and the two met up three days later at World Gym in Worthington, Ohio.

“Mike incorporates a lot of powerlifting-type movements,” Putnam says. “He took me through some movements I’ve never done in all my years of training. I was sore as heck afterwards.”

Francois, who won the overall at the 1993 NPC Nationals, burst onto the professional scene in 1994 going on to win the first four contests of his career. In the process, Francois established himself as potential heir to the Olympia throne. Unfortunately, Francois’s competitive career ended prematurely when he came down with colitis, a severe intestinal condition that made it impossible to follow a high protein, high calorie diet so important to a bodybuilder. Thus Francois last competed at the 1997 Mr. Olympia, where he placed 11th.

Francois currently owns Francois Fitness Consultants, Ltd and is an NPC and IFBB judge. According to Putnam, the two were shocked at the similarities in their stories when comparing notes.

“We both had a solid foundation in football and track where we both excelled,” Putnam says. “Also, Mike attended seminary school and planned on becoming a priest. I attended a Christian Bible college for a semester as I considered going into the ministry. Both of us pondered our purpose in bodybuilding and whether we should be heading into other areas in life after disappointing placings at shows.

“Plus, his back was not his strongest bodypart, but he eventually built a great back!” Look for more of Putnam training with Francois in a future issue of FLEX.