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Changes in the Bodybuilding Culture since the 80s

hawkmoon

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I feel like my era in the late 80s was the last era where BB was still socially accepted, we even had contests on network TV.
We were particularly flamboyant and a lot of people were "all in" with the lifestyle.

I think about how much has changed and wanted to share and see if any other old-timers could reflect on the past and where we are now.

Then:
  • Pink boatneck sweathshirts, T-Michael, and striped spandex - as everyday wear
  • Corvettes and Porsches; the Mustang 5.0 was the entry level BB car
  • Everyone was tanned all the time, salons more plentiful than gyms
  • Steroids were "sauce", "beans", or "juice"...and pharma was easy to get and lot of cops were on
  • Dan Duchaine was a legendary figure and source of all AAS knowledge
  • Carbs were just becoming fashionable, with lots of talk about "protein sparing"
  • Supplements sucked and powders all tasted awful. Metabolol II wasn't too bad, nor heavyweight gainer 900.
  • We had America Muscle Magazine (who I worked for) and other bodybuilding shows on ESPN (Kiana Tom, Rick Valente..)
  • No tattoos or beards, but plenty of mullets and gold chains
  • We were, for the most part, fun loving and goofballs with self-deprecatory humor
  • Drugs were mysterious and really were an after-thought, so long pre-Internet

Now: (?) younger guys please chime in ;)
 

MGPM123

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I got into the bb world back around 2002 when I'd have a MD magazine in opened in my binder pretending to be paying attention in class. Later on I'd be drooling at the glass cabinet in the back of vitamin shoppe filled with all the andros & ephedra your heart could desire. I can only imagine now what the bb scene of the 80's/90's must have been like to live through, just like I've always been left wondering what it was like to be a part of the NYC club scene back then. Point blank the powerful social influencers at the top of the societal scale have pushed forward with an anti-freedom, anti-masculine agenda for many years and when a fire sprung up towards the end of the last century in many ways they dowsed it with water as it did not go along with their long term plan. Let's be honest masculine high testosterone males do not make good slaves and do a little too much in the way of breeding (all testicular shut down jokes aside). These things are not in the interest of the wealthiest people in the world who see our 8 billion plus population destroying "their property" aka the earth so what's encouraged is lifestyles/societys that are all about safety, submissiveness, and a lack of sexuality/breeding. And believe me these people have so much generational wealth all they spend their time on is advancing these anti-human goals and they wield a lot of power (think of the lovely mr. vaccine gates we've all been seeing so much of these days). Sucks really, leaves a guy on their same mental awareness level bitter because although I can adjust my own life to the thruths I know and find some happiness, the world around us sucks at the hands of their manipulation (think of the saying it's lonely at the top). It's a tough era for persecuted adrenaline junkie, testosterone driven, bikini model hunting rebels. Thank god we have a little bit left of our masculine culture left in a few gyms around the country and places like these forums.. and to that I say thank you for the nice insight into the better days of the past.
 

lookslikesausage

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I got into working out in the late 90's but was lucky enough to be able to train in a few hardcore gyms over the years. There were still remnants of the 80's flavor lingering. I was in a Gold's gym and there was this sort of brotherhood and camaraderie but you had to "earn" your way in. You had to learn the ropes sort of. Definitely a lot more guys on shit but you NEVER heard anyone talking about it in the open. What i really miss is walking into a gym and seeing at least five guys you knew (but you only really knew them from the gym) and then one of them screaming your nickname out across the whole gym and it wasn't even awkward. Imagine that happening today? Yeah right! You're lucky if the person you ask to work in with hears you and makes eye contact and that's only if they figure out that you're talking to them.

I feel like the media hurt bodybuilding pretty badly during the Mitchell Report years when all those anti-steroid stories were pouring in by the day. By the time i got into gear it was the early 2000s and bodybuilding was getting more and more niche. A few years later the hardcore gyms would start drying up and at the same time fitness was becoming more mainstream, just not bodybuilding.

I guess what i really miss, and being that i've followed the history of bodybuilding fairly closely, is the tongue-and-cheek nature of it. The big bright neon colors, the ridiculous attire, yes, even the daisy dukes with construction boots (ok, not really). I also had the misfortune of trying a lot of the supplements and although there were a few winners (Ultimate Orange, Designer Whey), a lot of them tasted terrible and/or did nothing (Tribulus, Horny Goat Weed, Cortisol "lowering" supplements). Taste-wise things started to change though and i even remember when Protein Bars (White Choc. Pure Protein was the best tasting bar i ever had) got hot and started to taste decent. The supplement industry really blew the fuck up some time in the mid 2000s i believe.

At the end of the day, i don't think the 90's were nearly as fun as the 80's if you were a bodybuilder. Also, now the women i've met who actually prefer large muscles have been few and far between. Maybe someone could answer this, but i'd be curious to know if in the 70's and 80's with bodybuilding being a bit more mainstream, maybe more women were into bodybuilders?
 

Durro

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I’m not young but I wanted to share this. On ESPN I would watch Body by Jake, American Muscle Magazine, even Cory Everson had a show. My favorite was Bodyshaping in the summer i would watch it every day it would start around 10:00 m-f and after I would workout with my plastic cement filled weights! Late 80s early 90s

 

hawkmoon

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I’m not young but I wanted to share this. On ESPN I would watch Body by Jake, American Muscle Magazine, even Cory Everson had a show. My favorite was Bodyshaping in the summer i would watch it every day it would start around 10:00 m-f and after I would workout with my plastic cement filled weights! Late 80s early 90s


I watched a lot of that too. I thought Kiana was gorgeous lol.


I'd love to other older guy like me share their bodybuilding subculture stories. The Massachusetts area had it own scene with North shore and South shore guys. We all came together for the tug of war in the summer at Blue Hills. So much spandex...😁
 

PYGMY

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I wasn’t around for the 80’s scene. I was born in 81. I discovered bodybuilding in the 90’s.

But for me, I think the biggest change I’ve noticed from back then to now is social media and steroids seeming to be much more widely used.

Nowadays it seems like you have shit loads of high school/college aged girls taking anavar, doing squats and lunges 3 times a week for a few months and then snapping selfies in their favorite leggings wedged up the crack of their ass for Instagram while talking about #gains.
 

gungalunga

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In the 80's.....if you would have worn shorts with black socks you would have gotten laughed out of the gym. Big poofy looking workout pants were all the rage though.....
 

Bio

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I love this thread! I got my first plastic coated cement weight set in '82 or '83 and then Joined the gym in '85 when I was 16. It was a hardcore gym. I was just a skinny kid but guys were cool and taught me how to train. Good Times! Drugs were readily available at the gym, in my case the gym owner...that started in '88. In '87 I went to see a friend of a friend who worked at a Golds Gym to get some Dbol. He worked at the gym and unloaded the contents of his gym bag on the counter. A bunch of AAS on the counter in plain site of everyone and no one cared..LOL! There was a signed picture of Mr. Natural Mike Ashley on the wall. I asked if he trained there, he said, "Sometimes. I sell him GH." I was in steroid heaven! LOL!!

I watched all the shows you guys mentioned. In '91 I remember watching the Junior Nationals on ESPN. Paul Demayo won but the unknown guy in 2nd place really got peoples attention...Kevin Levrone! Kevin went on to win the Nationals that same year and get his pro card!! I have the Jr. Nats show on VHS somewhere. No VHS player to watch it but still have the video somewhere.

Back in the 80's, even with it gaining popularity, it was still an underground endeavor. The Weiders really pushed for a more socially acceptable version of bodybuilding because they were trying to make it an Olympic event.
I think it became less socially acceptable due to the the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990. AAS became Schedule III controlled Substances. The campaign against steroids was in full effect!! The popularity of bodybuilding continued to grow but the steroid stigma was now attached to it. It wasn't too many years later when the push for fitness came in which appealed to more of the mainstream and gym owners saw the dollar signs. It's hard to blame them. Most hardcore gyms disappeared.
 

Durro

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Great post Bio! I grew up in a small town the only gym was the high school football gym ☹ You are exactly right the Steroid Act changed bodybuilding and now it’s a crime. Growing up we knew if you wanted to get big you took steroids and it wasn’t bad you were just cheating. Lets not forget the magazines, that’s all the info we really had the internet was just starting and in the back of some mags you could order steroids man times have really changed. And like you said it’s more fitness now. But here in my city (been here 25yrs now) steroids are kind of accepted and lots are using and we have several fitness gyms but lucky we still have a local franchise with several gyms where you can be Hardcore Thank God!!! and we have a couple powerlifting gyms. CrossFit is starting to grow.
 

lookslikesausage

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I love this thread! I got my first plastic coated cement weight set in '82 or '83 and then Joined the gym in '85 when I was 16. It was a hardcore gym. I was just a skinny kid but guys were cool and taught me how to train. Good Times! Drugs were readily available at the gym, in my case the gym owner...that started in '88. In '87 or I went to see a friend of a friend who worked at a Golds Gym to get some Dbol. He worked at the gym and unloaded the contents of his gym bag on the counter. A bunch of AAS on the counter in plain site of everyone and no one cared..LOL! There was a signed picture of Mr. Natural Mike Ashley on the wall. I asked if he trained there, he said, "Sometimes. I sell him GH." I was in steroid heaven! LOL!!

I watched all the shows you guys mentioned. In '91 I remember watching the Junior Nationals on ESPN. Paul Demayo won but the unknown guy in 2nd place really got peoples attention...Kevin Levrone! Kevin went on to win the Nationals that same year and get his pro card!! I have the Jr. Nats show on VHS somewhere. No VHS player to watch it but still have the video somewhere.

Back in the 80's, even with it gaining popularity, it was still an underground endeavor. The Weiders really pushed for a more socially acceptable version of bodybuilding because they were trying to make it an Olympic event.
I think it became less socially acceptable due to the the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990. AAS became Schedule III controlled Substances. The campaign against steroids was in full effect!! The popularity of bodybuilding continued to grow but the steroid stigma was now attached to it. It wasn't too many years later when the push for fitness came in which appealed to more of the mainstream and gym owners saw the dollar signs. It's hard to blame them. Most hardcore gyms disappeared.
It seemed like Ben Johnson and the 88 Olympics really ignited the flame and it was all downhill from there.
 

hawkmoon

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I love this thread! I got my first plastic coated cement weight set in '82 or '83 and then Joined the gym in '85 when I was 16. It was a hardcore gym. I was just a skinny kid but guys were cool and taught me how to train. Good Times! Drugs were readily available at the gym, in my case the gym owner...that started in '88. In '87 I went to see a friend of a friend who worked at a Golds Gym to get some Dbol. He worked at the gym and unloaded the contents of his gym bag on the counter. A bunch of AAS on the counter in plain site of everyone and no one cared..LOL! There was a signed picture of Mr. Natural Mike Ashley on the wall. I asked if he trained there, he said, "Sometimes. I sell him GH." I was in steroid heaven! LOL!!

I watched all the shows you guys mentioned. In '91 I remember watching the Junior Nationals on ESPN. Paul Demayo won but the unknown guy in 2nd place really got peoples attention...Kevin Levrone! Kevin went on to win the Nationals that same year and get his pro card!! I have the Jr. Nats show on VHS somewhere. No VHS player to watch it but still have the video somewhere.

Back in the 80's, even with it gaining popularity, it was still an underground endeavor. The Weiders really pushed for a more socially acceptable version of bodybuilding because they were trying to make it an Olympic event.
I think it became less socially acceptable due to the the Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990. AAS became Schedule III controlled Substances. The campaign against steroids was in full effect!! The popularity of bodybuilding continued to grow but the steroid stigma was now attached to it. It wasn't too many years later when the push for fitness came in which appealed to more of the mainstream and gym owners saw the dollar signs. It's hard to blame them. Most hardcore gyms disappeared.

I remember when they had Paul DeMayo on local TV news on his teenage debut.
Things have changed soooo much since then.

I used to watch all the BB shows on NBC or whatever it was.
I got to see people like Beryy De Mey and Mike Christian battle it out with Haney and Gaspari on network TV.

Before social media this was the only way to see these guys in action and competing, posing, etc.

I went to seminars by Gaspari, Shawn Ray (who I later worked with), and Mike Quinn.
Quinn was the most fun and he pulled me up to run me through some shoulder work.

Until I went to my first hardcore gym, then Universe in Quincy MA, I a had no real idea about AAS. I honestly thought Arnold, et al, were natural ;)
My first show was the 1988 MA State Drug Free held at MIT. The head judge and regional NPC chair was my dad's football coach (!)

My last hardcore gym is the now long-gone Body Exchange in Holbrook, MA. I had the keys and we went after closing to train.
I would drive from Brookline and meet my friends coming in from Quincy. This was the mid-90s already though.
 

USMuscle9403

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I was more late 90s, but you'd better not be eating ANY fat OR salt, goddammit! Attitudes towards diet have changed a lot.

I remember having good training partners. I can't even get anyone to keep up with me now. You knew about steroids when you 'got in' with the big boys, which usually started as them seeing you train and inviting you into the circle. If you worked hard, you had their respect. Most monstrous and strong individual I trained with was a guy 6'3, a good 300+ and lean. Boy he fuckin loved tren pellets lol. He used a LOT. Could get really mean, actually, would get bad acne and all sorts of sides from running so much. Pretty sure he ran about a gram of tren a week on top of all his other shit. You don't see very many guys like him anymore. Pretty sure he is in prison now? Lol guess that's where they are...
 

rattlesnake98

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I’m a GenX’r that got into weights and bodybuilding in the early 90’s. We had a local hardcore gym that was decent but when Golds came to town we all went there for the better equipment. There are a few things nowadays that kind of get under my skin. One as someone mentioned above is nobody talks or makes eye contact or any communication much. They just walk around with ear buds in like they have no people skills. The other thing is younger guys don’t train with the intensity that I was taught to train with. We go hard every rep every set. If you can do 8 reps why not squeeze out 9, if you can do 3 sets why not do 4, etc. I’ll blow blood out of my nose to get that extra rep in where the younger guys just throw around weights and roll to the next machine or bench like it’s a stroll in the park. Maybe it’s just me but the intensity and camaraderie isn’t there like it used to be.
 

nidnoy

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The stupid Animal supplement adds in magazines with frank mcgrath cause a lot of the idiotic behavior we see. Everyone wants to be that character, and they try to act like it. Hats pulled down low, too tough to talk to anyone, so self absorbed in own journey. And most that play that fantasy don’t look the part. Nothing against getting in, getting to work. Gym is not a social club, it is a place of work. But that tough guy persona, billy wanna be, leave it at home. At the end of the day most people don’t like jerks. And you can lift hard and intensely and go about your business without being a jerk. No amount of muscle or pounds lifted is enough to compensate for a bad attitude. At the end of the day you are still just a jerk, maybe big and strong, but nonetheless a jerk. Hopefully most people just act that way at the gym and have some decency and a real personality in other areas of life.
 

Wynn

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Some remnants from each period still persist. The clothing can still be found in some countries.



 

buck

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I started lifting in the early 70's and there were no gyms around where I lived. But did get a membership in the 80's. I remember in the 70's when protein powders tasted like an old bar room ash tray. Stripe spandex was not the only way to go. I still have a pair of unused spandex shorts as I bought 2 pair once I saw them. The one I keep with my boat neck shirts in case I need a Halloween costume some time.
 

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method2madness

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I started lifting at thirteen in 1988 and was into the scene from then on. Powerhouse gym in freehold NJ was my first membership and all the freaks went there. I learned solid foundational stuff from all the guys and girl competitors who trained their. And yes, they sold Metabolol two and it wasn't awful. I also remember watching Boyer Coe and Shawn ray training videos. I met Gaspari once ther in 93 or 94 and ended up training with him for a short while in the early 2000's. Good times!!
 

Bio

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Some remnants from each period still persist. The clothing can still be found in some countries.



I used to train in my black Doc Martens (Dr. Martens). They weren't as high as those but I wore them out in the gym, at concerts and day to day.


I started lifting in the early 70's and there were no gyms around where I lived. But did get a membership in the 80's. I remember in the 70's when protein powders tasted like an old bar room ash tray. Stripe spandex was not the only way to go. I still have a pair of unused spandex shorts as I bought 2 pair once I saw them. The one I keep with my boat neck shirts in case I need a Halloween costume some time.
In the 70's my older cousins used MLO protein powder. I would hate to sip that today after being spoiled with much better tasting protein powders!

As for the main topic, changes in the bodybuilding world, to me the love of training isn't first and foremost anymore. It's all about the juice. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 didn't discourage its use, it made it public knowledge for those that weren't in the know, that steroids build muscle and increase athletic performance. It actually did the opposite of what was intended. Now, as many know, kids are taking a shot before they walk into a gym. To be fair, I took Dbol at 18. I got sick two weeks in and stopped. When I was 19 I did my first real cycle Anavar, Deca and Test but the mindset was different then. I LOVED to train and challenge myself and I already had a few years of training in a gym under my belt. We all loved to train and that was always the constant. Now it's a shot before your first workout and when the cycle is over they don't train anymore. They have to be on to train. I've seen them come and go over the years. They have the wrong mindset and their foundation is all wrong if it's only drugs. Imagine getting to an age where it's time to pump the brakes on AAS. Let's say you use TRT and maybe some GH or maybe you have to stop all together. The larger dosages and possibly all gear are gone but the foundation of training and the love of training still remains. That's something that will carry all of us through until our time is up.
 

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