Interview With Bodybuilder Craig Miles by Ben Tatar of CriticalBench.com
1) CRITICAL BENCH: Craig Tell us about yourself?
My name is Craig Miles, I live in Columbus Ohio with the greatest woman in the world-my wife Lisa. I am a competitive bodybuilder and small business owner. I work as a personal trainer and run a small spray tanning business. My wife and I make posing suits mainly for Figure, bodybuilding and a few Fitness costumes. We will have a few suits on the Olympia stage this year on Michelle Flake and Julie Palmer.
I have been weight training for over 20 years and competing for 4. I like to laugh and be laid back most of the time except when I am training; I save all of my aggression, anger and intensity for the gym. I workout at World gym North in Worthington, Ohio and train under Mike Davies 5 days a week.
2) CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your fitness site www.miles-of-fitness.com? How did you get it started and why did you start it?
We have a website www.miles-of-fitness.com and it started as a way to advertise our Personal training but has expanded to include our suit business as well-Styles by Miles. We get about 20-30 hits a day right now without any advertising. We are getting ready to revamp it and promote it on a wider scale.
3) CRITICAL BENCH: Everyone make sure to check out Craig's site (www.miles-of-fitness.com) --So, what got you started in bodybuilding?
Actually my sister got me into lifting. She was a swimmer and wanted to build muscle in the off-season so she began lifting and I followed at 13. Nothing too serious at first.
4) CRITICAL BENCH: Were you ever fat as a child or too skinny and did that have anything to do with that also motivate you to train?
I had a weight problem; I was never a big fat person just extremely flabby and had very little muscle mass. I was clumsy and not much of an athlete. My dad was very verbally abusive towards me and would do things like go through the McDonald's drive thru and order for everyone but me and say things like "Porky pig isn't getting anything he's already too fat".
5) CRITICAL BENCH: Did it bother you when your dad would call you "Porky pig" and not give you any food at the drive through when he gave everyone else food?
Yes, this bothered me a lot! Weight lifting proved to be my way out of my weight problems and helped end the abuse I put up with from my dad. As I got stronger and built some muscle it wasn't long before I was as strong as my dad, no longer could he physically harm me. So obviously for me weight lifting/bodybuilding is something that I've done to build up my self esteem. I've learned to pour my negative energy into my efforts in the gym and not direct it at anyone (as best as I can anyway).But in addition it has taught me to apply discipline to a lot of other areas of my life outside of the gym. I had a financially successful friend say to me before-" If you can apply what you are doing to the business world you could really be successful" That is what my wife and I are trying to do with our suit business and Personal training.
6) CRITICAL BENCH: Why did you choose bodybuilding over other sports?
Because bodybuilding is an individual sport where I can't blame anyone if I do not come in at my best but at the same time it is a team sport in that you have to have support from the people around you or you can't get through the dieting and the competition phase. If my wife, Mike Davies, my training partners Brian Yersky and Frank Thomas and all of my friends who learned to still be friends with me even if I can't go out and eat chicken wings and drink beer with them were not behind me 100% all of the time I'd never make it to the stage.
7) CRITICAL BENCH: What bodybuilding federation do you compete in? How have you progressed over the years?
I've been competing in the NPC show for 4 years now. This year has been the year I have made the most improvements. The first time I competed I knew very little about what I was doing but I thought I knew everything. In my first show I placed 12th out of 13 competitors. I was disappointed and didn't understand why I placed where I did. That's when my wife and I decided that if we were going to continue to compete we needed some help. By chance one day mike Davies came in the same nutrition store I met my wife at. I recognized him and told him I was competing at his show-the Ohio state championship in a few months. Lisa and I went down the next week and have been training with mike now for over 3 years. It has proven to be the best decision we made as far as our competitive careers go.
8) CRITICAL BENCH: Well, you met Jay Cutler and most of all you got your picture taken with Jay Cutler flexing. How did that happen? Tell us about some of the big names that you have met in the bodybuilding industry?
I've competed at Jim Manion's Pittsburgh show the last 3 years in a row. It is probably the largest regional show around and is great for the competitor and fan alike due to all of the great guest posers that Jim has. He brings in Jay, Ronnie,Gunter,Gustavo( no last names needed!). I have spoken to almost all of them at one time or another and the Pittsburgh show is place that you can meet and see these guys when they are a little more relaxed since they are not actually competing. The guys all pump up in the same area that the rest of us do so they are right there with us. I was waiting for my turn to pose on stage for the night show and had my camera in my hand and also already had my shirt off and was pretty pumped. I had wanted to try and get a picture of myself next to Jay when we came there. More to laugh at how small I am compared to these guys! Anyway, perfect timing here comes Jay so I asked him if he would get his picture taken with me and he since he was a very outgoing guy and of course he said Yes! The picture that I had of me and Jay flexing will be one of my best bodybuilding memories I will take with me when I am done competing. A funny, odd sight I saw 2 years back was jay lying on the ground being stretched by Ronnie and GŁnter. It was nice to see they appear to be friendly with one another and willing to help each other. A little different from what I thought it would be like amongst the elite in the sport.
9) CRITICAL BENCH: So, away from bodybuilding I heard you were in a band? Does being in a band and dealing with the parties have a negative effect when it comes to your bodybuilding career? Tell us about your music interest?
I love music, I made a living playing guitar in the Cleveland area club scene for 5 years. My last band was named Morning Wood. We played 3-4 nights a week in bars for decent pay. I always enjoyed every minute of being on stage and performing which helped with my posing and presentation in bodybuilding. The biggest problem with being a club band is the occupational hazard of becoming an alcoholic. People send up shots all night and it is considered rude to not drink them! It's an insult to the person who sent them. So when I decided to become more focused on bodybuilding I decided I would have to stop the late nights at a bar. I still play my guitar and write songs. I grew up in the era of the Guitar god. I used to practice for hours in my bedroom trying to learn Metallica and AC/DC songs. I took a few lessons when I first began but I had already played the Trombone since the 5th grade in stage band and taken 3 years of piano lessons.but, the guitar proved extremely challenging to even come close to sounding like one of the greats .Kirk Hammet, Jimi Hendrix and Ace Frehley are probably my biggest influences on the guitar and all I would think about is how I would tour the world and rule with my guitar.20 years later and still waiting!
10) CRITICAL BENCH: Tell us about your bodybuilding routine and diet?
I train with weights 5 days a week and do some form of cardio everyday. Mike targets a different area of each muscle group each workout so there is not many workouts that I do that are exactly the same. We use high intensity and high volume training methods and do around 30 sets or more total - Mike loves to superset and/ or giant set exercises. At first when I started training this way I would get so tired that even the lightest weight seemed heavy. I adapted over time and now can use much heavier weight. I have gotten very good results in a very short amount of time. I had been slowly making gains when I trained on my own but nothing compared to training with Mike and the other guys in my group. They all push me past the point that I would ever take it on my own-it great. I love it!
As far as diet I eat chicken breast, egg whites, tilapia, flank steak, protein shakes, tuna as my protein sources and oats, grits, yams and green vegetables for carbs. I don't use a lot of supplements other than flaxseed oil, glutamine, taurine, multi vitamin, ester c, B complex, vitamin e and caffeine tabs for a fat burner. My carb and protein intake will vary depending on how close I am to a contest. When I have a long break I throw in cheat meals after back, legs and on Sundays. I will pretty much eat my regular diet but throw in whatever I want in place of a few meals.
11) CRITICAL BENCH: What do you think separates a bodybuilder with great definition and separation like yourself from a bodybuilder who has muscle without that great separation and muscular detail?
I think the attention to detail in developing all areas of the body separates the two. Most people see a guy with big biceps and abs and think" that guy is really built" but they don't pay attention to other areas of the body like the legs. To the average person this seems obsessive and narcissistic but that is what it takes to be competitive on the stage-you have to be complete, head to toe.
12) CRITICAL BENCH: How did you meet your wife?
I met Lisa 8 years ago when we both worked at the same mall. I worked at a popular nutrition store and Lisa worked at a women's clothing store but she was a customer of my store. I liked her right away but didn't know anything about her. Over time I finally went in her store with some protein bars that I knew she liked and gave them to her. I was nervous and came across really unsure of what I was doing there and what I wanted. I left without asking her out and kicked myself in the ass for a few days. Then I finally called her at her store and asked her out after a coworker egged me on to. Best decision I ever made! I wasn't sure how old she was but I was pretty sure she was a few years younger than me so to be safe after I asked her out I asked her how old she was-she was 19 I was 27. On our first date I told Lisa I was studying to be a personal trainer and she told me that she loved to work out with weights. So we started lifting together and it has proven to be the glue that made us stick. The first time we worked out together I noticed how much muscle she already had and we started talking about the Arnold Classic since it was held in Columbus and decided to go and we have been every year since. We just got confirmation letters and have been accepted to compete at the 2007 Arnold classic amateur show held for the first time next year. Never did I think I'd get a shot to compete at the Arnold even as an Amateur. I will start my competition diet Dec. 1st but will take some cheat days around the holidays just to keep my sanity! This will be my biggest bodybuilding chance and I intend to come in at my all time best or Mike D will kill me for embarrassing the family!
13) CRITICAL BENCH: What's it like being a personal trainer and working at your own personal gym?
Being a Personal trainer is the most rewarding job I have ever had. It only works for me if it is my own thing (Miles of Fitness) and not working for a chain gym. My experience working for a corporate gym is that they really do not care how good of a trainer you are-only how good of a salesman you are. I refuse to lie or deceive any of my clients and would only give them the most honest, accurate advice and information that I am capable of at all times. I have learned more from Mike Davies on how to be a successful trainer than any course I have ever taken. I have 2 certifications but, Mike taught me things you can not learn from a book. Like how to deal with the different personalities clients have and how to effectively reach each individual to help them make life changes not just count reps. helping clients has helped my own training as well. When someone really starts to change and I see it-it is so motivating to me-it keeps me honest as well. I can't have a client working harder than myself! An interesting client that I worked with for a short period of time was John Jacobs from the "Power Team". They are a Christian based power lifting team and bring an inspirational message to people as well. John had several shoulder injuries and surgeries and more than needing a fitness education he needed an experienced lifter to make sure he was safe while he was training. He is still very strong but one wrong move and he could end up in the hospital. My wife also had worked with Playboy centerfold Sandra Hubby so we have had a few interesting clients. It was always a pleasure to help anyone who truly wanted help. We also get the client type who only wants to talk about getting in shape. We learned early on to drop clients like that as quickly as possible. They will not get results or work hard and it will hurt your reputation in the end. It's not worth an extra $75 a week to bother with dreamers and talkers.
14) CRITICAL BENCH: What are your future goals?
My future goals competitively are to win the Mr. Ohio title by next year and become a decent national level bodybuilder. Also, to continue to earn a living in the fitness industry doing what I love. Long term I want to be the best husband to my wife Lisa and friend to the people who care about me.
15) CRITICAL BENCH: Great Goals! Have you ever had any serious injuries that you had to overcome? What was that experience like?
As far as bodybuilding/weightlifting the biggest adversity I have had to overcome is having a herniated disc. My L-5 has been injured over and over again. First during a set of good mornings done with poor form. I worked as a trim carpenter and began having chronic back pain. Then a few years later a car accident which proved difficult to recover from. The pain got so bad that I decided to have a surgery to remove scar tissue from my disc about 6 years ago. As I lay in bed recovering from the surgery I started to think about how I would get back into shape when I was recovered... months after the surgery I was still barely able to lift much weight at all or even walk or stand for any length of time. Getting back in shape was much harder than i ever thought possible. It has been a long painful road but I am stronger than ever now. I still have pain issues and stiffness but I have rehabbed my lower back and I am training harder than when I was 18.
16) CRITICAL BENCH: Well, I'm glad the injury made you stronger and help guided you to being the strong person that you are today. You are strong, you are a success story and you will even be more successful in the future.
17) CRITICAL BENCH: Speaking of the future, how do you see the future of bodybuilding as a whole? Do you like the direction that pro bodybuilding is heading in? Do you think bodybuilding is heading more in the direction of the massive freaks and roids or aesthetic physiques? What do you think it will take for bodybuilding to become popular like other professional sports?
I think bodybuilding is headed towards more aesthetic physiques and getting away from the mass monsters. Hardcore BB fans love to see a Markus Ruhl but that look will never be accepted by the general public and many people see him and other massive guys as drug freaks and nothing else. With all of the negative attention steroids are getting in the media I think the industry will have to change in order to stick around. I believe most people look at a Bodybuilder and assume everyone competing is on steroids. But, with baseball it was a shock! We don't think of these guys as drug users-just athletes and it is not such a visible sport like bodybuilding is. I thought for a long time that the McGuire andro story was to throw people off the trail of what was really happening and it looks like I was right. I'll go out on a limb and say that even some of the female tennis stars are "On". Any sport where speed, strength and power are involved there is going to be steroid use. With that being said I favor the look of bodybuilders like Arnold, Dennis Newman, Lee Labrada and Darren Charles. The size thing has become stupid and a health risk, I prefer the Adonis look to the Hercules look and would benefit myself the more the judging shifts to rewarding those types of physiques.
18) CRITICAL BENCH: Very good answer. Craig, it has been an honor interviewing you. You have had a very interesting and successful story to share and it's been an honor getting the chance to hear about it. In closing, is there anything else you would like to say?
I'd like to thank my wife Lisa for supporting me and helping me believe I can be successful at anything I try even when I fail. I'd like to thank Mike Davies, Brian Yersky, Frank, Leanna,Thomas, Steve, Spaulding,Joey Decamanida, and everyone @ The Fitness Factory. I'd also like to thank Stu Harter.With out all of these people Iwould still be scratching my head at a dead end job dreaming about what I'd rather be doing!