Mr. Olympia Phil Heath ('Generation Iron')
'The Next Generation of Fitness'
Phillip Heath grew up in Seattle, WA and attended Rainier Beach High School, where he played guard on the varsity basketball team. Heath attended the University of Denver on a full athletic scholarship. While at Denver, Heath double-majored in IT and Business Administration and played guard for Denver's Division I basketball team.
It was not until 2002 that Phil Heath pursued bodybuilding. His hard work paid off in 2005 when he won the overall title at the NPC (National Physique Committee) USA Championships, earning the right to compete as an IFBB Pro. The man now known as "The Gift" immediately made a splash in the IFBB, winning his first two pro events in 2006, The Colorado Pro Championships and The New York Pro Championship.
In 2007, Heath placed fifth at the Arnold Classic, but even though he qualified to compete in the 2007 Mr. Olympia contest, Heath decided not to compete at the contest - stating that he needed more time to improve in order to be competitive.
This proved to be a good decision as Heath ended up winning the 2008 Iron Man show and placed second to Dexter Jackson at the 2008 Arnold Classic. In his 2008 Mr. Olympia debut, Heath finished third, becoming the first rookie to place in the top three since Flex Wheeler in 1993. [A day before the Friday pre-judging for the 2009 Mr. Olympia competition, Phil caught a stomach virus which caused him to come in to the first day 10 pounds lighter than planned. He ended up taking fifth.]
In 2010, he took second place at the Mr. Olympia contest when Jay Cutler won his final title. In 2011, Heath became Mr. Olympia when he defeated Cutler. In 2010, Cutler had a better glute spread than Heath, but in 2011 Heath improved his glute spread, which was the deciding factor for his win. In 2012, Heath defended his Mr. Olympia title defeating Kai Greene.
Heath is now gunning for Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Olympia title record going for win #3 this September in the Superbowl of bodybuilding event in Las Vegas. In the niche sport first brought to the Hollywood spotlight in the 1977 hard hitting documentary 'Pumping Iron,' noted for making Schwarzenegger a household name, it is itself now being revamped as 'Generation Iron' and due out in theaters September 13th.
Chatting recently with Phil Heath, I first wondered, being that he seemed to have so many nicknames - The Gift, The Gentle Giant and The Next Big Thing - if he himself was happiest with just one of them in particular? "I would prefer "The Gift," as although it sounds a tad cocky at first, it is deeper than that. I feel that I have a gift and I have found my niche in life and have dedicated my life to grow this passion of bodybuilding into something awesome, while still helping others. Everyone has a gift and it is our jobs in life to find it, learn more about it, become passionate about it and work hard extremely at it."
To date, what has been your greatest achievement within the sport ...? "Winning my first Mr. Olympia was my greatest achievement in bodybuilding, as it was a dream come true."
... and your most embarrassing?! "My most embarrassing moment would probably be posing with my friend and the Denver Nugget Cheerleaders walked into the exercise room where we thought we had privacy to practice. It was my first time posing in trunks, so it was quite strange, but now I'd walk around in those trunks with no problem," he laughs.
You are due to appear in a revamped version of 'Pumping Iron' come September entitled 'Generation Iron.' Please tell us how they reached out to you and what, if anything you had to do to be considered? "I was initially contacted by my Athlete's Rep, Robin Chang from FLEX Magazine of American Media Inc. He asked if I'd be interested in such a project and I immediately told him hell yeah!!! The Vladar Company then contacted me and we discussed the project and my potential role in it and I simply said yes, as I knew this film would be epic."
Please tell us more about what audiences can expect from the film? "The audience can expect to see a more in-depth view of the many processes it takes to be a champion bodybuilder. They'll see not just our workouts, but also our different walks in life with managing business, family and other relationships. I can honestly say that audiences will possibly come in with many questions, stereotypes, etc but will leave with more knowledge and hopefully appreciation for what we do not just on stage, but for the health and fitness world."
Word has it that original cast member Lou Ferigno will make an appearance! Did you get to hang out with him while filming and swap stories, perhaps? "I have had the privilege of chatting with Lou on a few occasions and to hear his attitude toward reaching his goals have been enlightening and always motivating."
And being that Arnold Schwarzenegger first brought this all to light in the 1977 documentary 'Pumping Iron,' have you over the years ever met up with him? "I honestly have only spoken to Arnold once, last year at the Arnold Classic Europe in Spain right after his book "Total Recall" released. I hope to have a longer conversation with him someday. He did say I had a great physique so that was what I call "The Nod" which was cool!"
If you could describe the film in just five (5) words, what would they be? "Revealing, Strong, Exciting, Impactful and Expressive."
You will be going for a third Mr. Olympia win this September in the Superbowl of bodybuilding events in Las Vegas. So, have you already started training or do you simply never stop?! "I never stop training really, but I will step up my protocol now, as its under 14 weeks out and it takes around that time to prep for the Olympia."
What will winning it for the third time (and in a row) mean to you, given that in the past you've come 2nd, 3rd and 5th before now? "Winning my third Sandow will solidify my status as one of the best Mr Olympias of all-time. There hasn't been a Mr Olympia Champ since 8-time champ, Ronnie Coleman that's won 3 consecutive. I look at this as an opportunity to become a dynasty as most sports teams created dynasties from winning three or more in a row. I want the dynasty!!!"
You also have your own clothing line, entitled Phil Knows! But where did that phrase originate?! "I created my clothing line, Gifted Athletics 3 years ago and wanted to change things up from typical bodybuilder shirts with gym memes. I was going thru some of my collector Nikes and found some Bo Jackson's. Bo was and still is my favorite athletes of all-time and his Bo Knows campaign was epic since he simply did it all."
"I am similar as I played college basketball, ran track, play the piano, got an I.T. degree, play video games and of course am Mr Olympia. What can't I do was a phrase that friends and family mentioned, so I figured I'd roll with Phil Knows and hash tagged it online and BOOM…success! I had no choice then but to create a Phil Knows line and people in the bodybuilding and fitness community have loved it. #PhilKnows"
Finally, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, we here at Exclusive Magazine love penguins! Do you also, perhaps?! "I like birds and my Brother Brandon (17) actually studies them as a hobby. My Mother Rosella Braxton has a collection of figurine Owls from all over the world. I remember waking up on winter morning in Seattle and I immediately turned on the heater in my room. I ran over to the heat register near my window and sat next to it and heard a tap on the window. I opened my window and it was an Owl. I totally freaked but didn't make a sound as I knew this was a rare occurrence and didn't want to scare it off."
"I told my Mom as the Owl just stood there on the windowsill for quite some time. I later realized that Owls in Japanese culture symbolize luck and protect one from suffering. My Mom now owns well over 300 Owls kept in her home in Seattle, WA. Let's say that whenever I see an owl anywhere, it catches my immediate attention, makes me think of my Mom and also how cool they are."
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
Phil Heath on Twitter
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