You have to look no further than this decade’s version of Pumping Iron, Generation Iron(2013), to understand why non-professional bodybuilders and trainers with their own Youtube channels are quickly replacing pro bodybuilders as sources of information on training, nutrition, and fitness. Pumping Iron had a cast of memorable characters, two of which became household names, Lou Ferrigno(The Incredible Hulk) and Arnold Schwarzenegger(Movie Star and Governor). I watched Generation Iron over a year ago and, honestly, all I can remember was an older woman micromanaging Roelly Winklaar’s contest preparation/life and the scene where Dennis Wolf auditions for a movie.
Below is a clip from Generation Iron. Does German bodybuilder Dennis Wolf look like he cares if he gets the role or like he even wants to be there? Arnold Schwarzenegger immersed himself in American culture and learned the language, at least to the point where he was understandable. He had a vision. Wolf seems to be going through the motions so that after he fails he can say at least he “tried”.
An interview with four time Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler is as effective a sleep aid as is a handful of Ambien. The most memorable thing to resonate from Ronnie Coleman’s vocal folds is “light weight, baby” and “ain’t nuthin’ but a peanut”. Phil Heath can be found flaunting accomplishments and defending himself against trolls on social media. The Weider magazines, under the guidance of Joe Weider, used to create the images of bodybuilders. What they crafted in the magazines was a fantasy sense of who they were. Except for Schwarzenegger and a handful of others, there were probably as many duds then as there are today. They just didn’t have a chance to demonstrate it.
Along come the men and women, many who couldn’t win and, in most cases, aren’t even trying to win a local contest but are toppling the IFBB “superstars” as far as who many people are turning to for their bodybuilding information and entertainment. People like Jerry Ward from the Bios3training, Richard Burgess aka Vegan Gains, the Hodgetwins, Elliot Hulse, and Jeff Seid, have overtaken, at least media-wise, pro bodybuilders who spend tens of thousands of dollars on steroids, IGF, Insulin, growth hormone, synthol, along with other drugs, and are gambling with the health risks.
What is the reason these Youtubers are getting viewership? They’re interesting. It actually takes practice and/or a natural ability to address a camera as if you are talking to someone that you genuinely are interested in. They also have something to say and stand for something no matter what that something is. Vegan gains is an advocate for veganism, Jerry Ward is a veteran personal trainer/diet coach, Rich Piana has his 5% schtick, Layne Norton’s has a Phd. etc… Some Youtubers have the bodies more women like and more men would like to look like, Jeff Seid and Rob Riches. Truth be told, most women aren’t attracted to pro bodybuilders and most men don’t want to look like Kai Green mush less do what it takes to look like him(given they have the genetics for that look in the first place).
Since Youtube is about “you”, you also may have to be willing to share private aspects of your life in order to connect with viewers. It doesn’t hurt to have a tough skin as well. If you’ve ever read the comments under Youtube videos you know exactly what I’m referring to.
One of the most difficult qualities to possess in “Youtubing” is the ability to talk extemporaneously without any edits. Youtube has made the jarring “jump cut” more acceptable but there are a few who can talk to the camera for a good ten minutes without a cut, Jerry Ward and Rich Piana come to mind. You have to know what you’re talking about in order to do this effectively. No cuts means massive time saved on editing and that translates to dollars saved if you are paying someone for post production. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have a budget or know how to compile the video yourself but the most important thing is to hold the viewers attention, however you may accomplish that.
The main reason that many pro bodybuilders(Lee Priest is an exception) seem to have a charisma problem boils down to variables. A lot of qualities have to line up, like the numbered ping pong balls in a state lottery. Sure you have 03, 17, and 44, but do you have the other three numbers as well? Sure you are willing to train like a madman, get your diet down to a science, be born with the right genetics, take whatever drugs are necessary to win, and pose on stage in a thong, but can you also talk in front of a camera, do you have something to say, can you connect with people and spend the time necessary to build a successful media platform on Youtube? Not everyone is an Arnold.