Casey Viator, Mike Mentzer, Ray Mentzer, and Boyer Coe are the bodybuilders most people associate with Arthur Jones and Nautilus but, in the early 1970s, Bodybuilders such as John Grimek, Milo Steinborn, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbu, Ellington Darden, Chuck Amato, Boyer Coe, Red Lerille, Sergio Oliva, Dan Howard, Pete Caputo, Bill Pearl, Chris Dickerson, and others also visited Arthur Jones training facilities in DeLand, Florida to personally investigate Jones’ Nautilus machines.
The following is the perspective of Ellington Darden, who wrote that Franco Columbu and Arnold Schwarzenegger had recently competed in the Mr. Olympia when they came to train at the Quonset hut in DeLand, Florida.
Prior to completing his 20-acre Nautilus headquarters in Lake Helen, Florida in 1974, Jones’ training facility was situated behind the DeLand High School in an old army, semi-circular, Quonset hut. The hut was dimly lit, humid, and musty-smelling. The floors were concrete and there was no reliable heating or cooling in the structure. High-school athletes and a few local fitness buffs used the facility, along with Jones and a few select bodybuilders.
As you entered through the front door, you’d see a Universal Gym machine on the right and a Nautilus Combination Biceps/Triceps Machine on the left. At the far end were prototypes of the Nautilus Pullover, Behind Neck, and Rowing Machines. In the middle were squat racks, several old Olympic barbells, and half a dozen dumbbells.
This was where Jones had challenged Arnold Schwarzenegger and Franco Columbu. After three workouts, Arnold left in a huff, his ego damaged, while Franco thrived and stayed for another week.
Arnold’s arms were measured by Arthur Jones during his Florida visit. To quote Jones in Nautilus Bulletin 2, published in 1971, “To begin with, most of the claimed measurements of top bodybuilders are simply untrue. The largest muscular arm that I ever measured – or saw –was Sergio Oliva’s, which, accurately measured, “cold” was 20 1/8 inches. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s arm was 19 7/8, slightly pumped – probably 19 1/2 “cold”.
In the early 1970s, there was a small window of time when the original Gold’s Gym in Venice, California had two pieces of nautilus equipment which Arnold Schwarzenegger would, at least occasionally, train on.
For additional perspective, here’s an excerpt from Nautilus Concepts, written by Patrick L Deu Pree, about his Gold’s Gym experience in the summer of 1971.
And near the entrance were two Nautilus machines. These were plate loaded machines. No weight stack. That would come later. There was a Nautilus pullover machine and a combination biceps and triceps machine. Both were owned by Franco Columbu. I remembered an article in IRON MAN that had discussed Franco’s experiences with the machines. He had been highly impressed. Arnold was not. Weider had written several articles in MUSCLE BUILDER magazine strongly denouncing the Nautilus machines. Weider had Arnold write a derogatory article about how ineffective the Nautilus machines were. But I think Arnold actually believed it. One day Arnold was standing in the middle of the training room floor, a curling bar by his feet. A member pointed to the Nautilus arm machine, and then to the curling bar, and asked which one was the best. Without hesitation, Arnold pointed to the curling bar. “This is best” he said.