Iron Brotherhood

Why training partners make the best friends.

Iron Brotherhood


Are you still friends with the bodybuilders you trained with decades ago? — John D., via Facebook


Without a doubt. The friends I made along the way through bodybuilding are some of the best and longest-lasting relationships in my life. Frank Zane, Bill Grant, and Ed Corney always have carte blanche when they set up their booths at my Arnold Sports Festival. And Franco Columbu, whom I trained with, did masonry work with, and starred in movies with, remains my closest friend of all—we still play chess together nearly every weekend.

Last July, paparazzi took some shots of Lou Ferrigno and me training in Gold’s Gym together. We weren’t there for a photo op or to promote a movie—we’re just two old buddies who wanted to get a workout in. This month, I’ll help Lou celebrate his 64th birthday.

Most friendships aren’t based on competition; they’re formed over common interests. But bodybuilding friendships are fortunate enough to have both. People who train together form bonds not unlike soldiers who are forced to share a foxhole. They help each other through adversity and share both triumphs and defeats. They push each other to be better and check each other’s egos. So if you’re not satisfied with the relationships in your life, find someone to go to the gym with. Maybe in another 40 years, they’ll be taking pictures of the two of you still training together. – FLEX