In 1978 I saw the largest, most intimidating “creature” that my 14 year old eyes had ever encountered.
That big green muscle bound “creature” was, of course, Lou Ferrigno in the TV classic, “The Incredible Hulk” and more recently, Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice”. Yesterday, I met the man in San Antonio for 1 1/2 hours over breakfast.
We talked fitness, bodybuilding, business, and relationships. And at the end of the best breakfast of my life – Lou told us that he would like to come down to Austin and visit again for a full day later this year. Life can be amazing! I’m a huge fan of Lou Ferrigno because of the obstacles that he’s overcome, because of his bodybuilding career, and because of his TV/Movie career.
Here’s a recap of the day, Sunday, June 24th 2012:
My alarm is scheduled to go off at 530am but I’m so excited that I wake up on my own at 445am. I find out later that my friend, Joe Vitale, woke up at 330am.
Joe is my long time friend who is going with me today to meet with Lou. Joe is a bodybuilding fan, a fitness enthusiast, an author, appeared in the movie “The Secret” and is a collector of Steve Reeves memorabilia. A friend of Lou’s and ours in California, told Joe that Lou was going to be in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, June 22nd. Our friend told us that Lou is a huge Steve Reeves fan. Steve was Lou’s second major influence after George Reeves (George played Superman in the 50s). Our friend in California told us that he could set it up so that we could meet Lou. Never did we imagine what was to become of this!
The Day Before
The day before, Saturday, June 23rd, Joe and I drove to San Antonio to meet Lou at Comic Con. We expected to shake hands with him and perhaps spend a few moments talking about Steve Reeves and bodybuilding. We knew Lou would be busy with his fans, signing pictures, taking pictures and chatting. We drove up in Joe’s all electric Fisker Karma (which is another story altogether).
The line outside of the events center was long and we figured upon an hour or so wait. Wrong. After 15 minutes or so, we had paid our $15 and were inside looking for Lou. There he was, wearing a black short sleeved shirt and slacks. My first impression was how lean and vascular he was.
There was a line of 10-15 people waiting to buy photos, chat and take pictures with him. Joe introduced us. And then she asked us if we wanted to meet Lou.
Yes. We did.
Lou finished up with a fan and then turned his attention to us. His first comment was “So you bought Steve’s car”. He was talking to Joe about Steve’s 1977 Jaguar. Joe had bought the Jaguar a few years back, along with a ton of other Steve Reeves treasures. We chatted for a few moments more and then Lou turned to see his fans waiting patiently in an ever growing line. We didn’t want to hold him up and we certainly understood so we sat down behind his table and took in all of the goings on at the event. I asked Lou’s friend if it would be possible to buy Lou lunch so that we could spend more time with him. Next thing I know, Joe and I are being invited to breakfast the next morning.
Of course, we jumped on the opportunity (note – always jump on opportunities!).
I turned on the coffee, got dressed and packed my food for the Sunday drive back to San Antonio to meet with Lou. While I downed 2 cups of coffee, I hit biceps and triceps in my home gym. Afterwards, I triple checked the directions to the Hotel and then headed South to pick up Joe along the way. I was listening to Bob Dylan as I made my way through downtown Austin on a beautiful 76 degree Texas morning. As the sun began to rise outside of Dripping Springs, I downed a protein drink mixed with water and creatine and wondered if I had heard correctly and perhaps wasn’t just dreaming up this whole experience. When someone is such a huge inspiration as Lou is, you can’t help but freak out a little. Just at that moment, “Thriller” by Michael Jackson came on the radio.
I hadn’t heard this song in years and thought how ironic that was playing now of all times. Lou, of course, was Michael’s long time trainer. At 900am Sunday morning, the agreed upon time, we arrived at the Hilton hotel. We head inside to the hotel restaurant and look around to see if Lou is already there. He is not. We don’t wait long though. He comes from around the corner wearing a black short sleeved shirt and green (of course) pants, walking with purpose heading straight towards us and into the restaurant. No hand shakes or greeting – you can tell Lou is focused on sitting down and ordering.
Lou wants to sit at a table in a private room, the hostess tells us that it will take 10 minutes before we can, to which Lou says he wants to “eat right now” and points at a booth in the main room of the restaurant. The busboy quickly cleans the table, heads are turning in the half filled restaurant as people begin to notice Lou. We sit down at a booth and Lou starts asking Joe rapid fire questions about Steve Reeves, “how did you get his car?”, what else does Joe own of his, how long has he been a fan, etc. Lou is very focused and intense. He has a celebrity auora. He’s wearing a large wristwatch with a black band and his wedding ring. He’s very lean, I would guess his body fat to be around 12%.
At 12 years old, Lou first noticed Steve Reeves in a New York Paper. There were pictures of Steve in a double page section of the paper. Lou’s father noticed Lou staring at the pictures and pegs this point as the beginning of Lou’s love of bodybuilding.
The waitress comes to take our order. I decided to eat the EXACT same thing as Lou. I haven’t had a cheat day in a month – no sweets, no pizza, no cake, nothing. But I’ll break my diet for this opportunity. I secretly hope he doesn’t eat too much 🙂
He orders coffee, orange juice, water, and 4 scrambled egg whites with diced tomato cooked in Pam. No salt, no butter.
4 Egg Whites With Tomato
He also ordered the buffet. The eggs were hot, as they cooled we talked some more. He asked Joe what were the 2 books that he found the most inspirational. Joe’s response was “The Book Of EST” and Claude Bristol’s “The Magic Of Believing”. I showed Lou pictures of some of Joe’s Reeves memoribila on my phone – the hyperextension machine, the dumbbells, the directors chair.
Lou was in awe.
Lou was finished with his egg whites by now, stands up and announces that he’s going to the buffet. So am I. I follow him closely.
Here is what he got:
Greek yogurt, muffin, cottage cheese, pineapple, cantaloupe. He asks the waitress for 4 packages of strawberry jelly as he’s going to mix them into his yogurt. He doesn’t eat fast, in fact he didn’t even eat all of the this food. He ate half of the muffin. He says he only eats around 50 grams of carbs a day. He eats like this for breakfast, meat and vegetables for lunch and salad, baked potato, meat and wine for dinner. He enjoys wine. I enjoy hearing that because so do I.
I ask him what supplements he takes. He says, “Thanks for reminding me” pulls some pills out of his pocket and washes them down with water.
He uses a probiotic, vitamin D (goes on a tangent about vitamin D and why you must take it for your immune system) and I forget to ask him what else he has.
As we wind down breakfast, Lou tells us that he’s coming back to Austin later in the year and would like to get together again to check out the Steve Reeves memoribilia at Joe’s house and to visit the Joe and Betty Weider Museum in Austin, Our jaws drop. We have another opportunity to meet with Lou privately for a full day!
Amazing. We talk more about business, bodybuilding and then we begin to wind things down. We take some pictures of with Lou, he hugs Joe, shakes my hand and pats me on the back.
He leaves his personal address and email with Joe and then we go our separate ways. Joe and I are beaming all the way back home.