Interview With Legendary IFBB Bodybuilder Flex Wheeler as told to CriticalBench.com by Ben Tatar - August 2007
Christ Has Motivated IFBB Legend Flex To Train Drug Free
1) Critical Bench: Flex, you're a man that needs little introduction but why don't you humor us and tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Kenneth Wheeler, and I was born on August 23rd, 1965 in Fresno, California. I have one sister and six brothers. Besides bodybuilding, I love the martial arts. In fact, if I were 10 years younger, I'd be all over the UFC. I also love God. He is the creator of all things. And I am unashamed to claim Christ as my Savior.
2) Critical Bench: What was your favorite bodybuilding competition and why?
Actually, I don't really have favorite. I loved all the competitions I competed in. The reason why is that I'm just a predator when it comes to competing. I love the art of combat, whether it's bodybuilding or fighting professionally. It's great to challenge yourself and push yourself to be at a world-class level and to compete against other athletes who are world class. What else could you ask for?
3) Critical Bench: Flex, who was your favorite bodybuilder growing up?
Honestly, I didn't really know of any bodybuilders when I was growing up, other than any local heroes in hometown of Fresno, California. Unfortunately, I wasn't well off enough to be able to buy magazine or anything like that. So I didn't ever really know of anyone or hear of anyone, or even know what bodybuilding was all about on a global scale until I actually competed in the California show in 1989.
4) Critical Bench: Flex, you've used steroids and became one of the greatest bodybuilders in the world. Then I heard you had a kidney transplant. What changed and what motivated you to stop taking steroids and become drug free?
Yeah, I did use what I like to call "sports technology drugs". What caused me to change was a couple of things. First, I found out I had a very rare kidney disease called Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, or FSGS for short. It's the most aggressive and deadliest kidney disease know to mankind. There isn't a cure for it, so I have to be careful and take care of myself. Ironically, all the drugs I used had nothing to do with my disease. Second, what really caused me to change and motivated me to stop taking sports technology drugs and start training drug-free is my commitment to Christ, not to mention having better overall health and fitness. But my number one motivator was Christ Himself.
The way I was first introduced to Kre-Alkalyn EFX was when I was in Italy at a tradeshow. A young man approached me, and he stared telling me about the product. I didn't really take him too seriously because everybody is always trying to sell me something. But he gave a small sample that had five purple capsules in it. A couple of weeks later, I tried them and was really amazed that a product could work that fast and was also natural and legal. I mean, there are high-performance sports technology drugs out there that take weeks or months to get into your system. Because of that, I called All American EFX and requested a bottle of the full product. I tried them and also had my friends try them. We were all amazed that something like this could actually work that well. A little later I called the company again and spoke with the President, Brian Andrews. Within a week, I was on a plane to meet with Brian, Jeff Golini, and Bruce Butterbredt at their 110,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Then, just a month later, I signed a contract with them, and we were ready to go. To answer your original question, the major reasons why I think Kre-Alkalyn EFX is more useful overall than sports technology drugs is that it works, it's safe and it's legal.
6) Critical Bench: AAEFX now provides sports nutrition to Olympic, NFL and AFL professional athletes! Can you discuss a few of the different products that these athletes use and why they work so well? Why do you love these products so much Flex?
I'm proud to say that we do have a lot of Olympic, NFL and other professional athletes use our products globally. Obviously, the one main reason why they use them is because they work! Our company is one of the very few, if not the only one, that tests our products for 16 banned substances. So it stands to reason they would use our Kre-Alkalyn EFX and also Nytric EFX because of the strength increases and the way it gets the blood flowing. Another one is Kre-Celerator before they go out and train or out on the field. It's going to help them get the nutrients and stuff they need for more energy, but without stimulants. After they finish, they'll take Kre-Generator to replenish what they lost so they can recover and grow faster.
Some like using Lean-Fix to help decrease their body fat, for more energy and increase thermogenesis. The same with our Liquid L-Carnitine. This one is a "no-brainer" because it also helps reduce body fat and tastes great. Probably one of our hottest running products right now has to be our Pure Liquid Amino, which is the number one natural ingredient in building muscle mass and overall size. I think another one of our hot products they might be interested in using is our Ionic Whey Supreme Protein. This stuff literally just dissolves in water; it tastes great and is full of protein and nutrients. One scoop has only 2.2 grams of fat and zero saturated fat and cholesterol. It also has only 185 milligrams of sodium, which is super low. For people on a low carb diets, it only has 4.3 grams of carbohydrates of which just 3 are sugar. So this is why I think so many elite athletes now use our products on a global scale.
7) Critical Bench: It's nice to see a supplement company that actually does it's research. Visit AAEFX to read more about the supps mentioned above by visiting http://www.aaefx.com. Flex, I read your book and it was one of the most interesting bodybuilding books I've ever read before. Can you give us a summary about your book for those who might want to read it but haven't yet?
Thank you! I really tried my best to share all my "ups" and my "downs". Basically, it's about the ride of Flex Wheeler from the age of 13 or so, and it ends right around the age of 36. I share all my trials and tribulations, all the things I went through. I go very in-depth with all the different battles and struggles and demons I had throughout my life. I think that basically I've been through so many things that there aren't too many rooms I couldn't walk into and feel totally comfortable, whether I'm dealing with a child who has been molested, beaten or on welfare. Even dealing with neglect or having deadly disease you have to face, making millions and being a superstar athlete and then losing all that. Then, making money back again. Having multiple surgeries and so one. So whether you are a millionaire or pro athlete or just a regular "Joe Blow", on welfare, or someone who has been molested, or abused, or something like that, I can share stories with you. Overall, what I'm trying to do is express and share all the things I've been through to help people see that if I can overcome those things, so can they. There are millions of people who've been through one or more of these same things that I've been through. But very seldom do they have the world as their stage. So I want to share the things to hopefully inspire another kid or anyone else who can relate to my story. They can shoot for their dreams, regardless of their past or circumstances.
Photo by Raymond Cassar. Used with permission from Flex Wheeler/All American EFX.
8) Critical Bench: Since writing your book, what has changed in your life?
Wow! Literally everything! I mean just the kidney transplant alone that I had back in 2003, which is pretty much right where the book stops, completely changed my life. In fact, so much has changed, I think there might be a volume 2 just tell it all. It's been a whirlwind. Basically, I can sum it up by saying that compared to everything that happened to me during the timeline of my book, probably as much as three times that much has happened since then.
9) Critical Bench: Today what are your stats? And what are some of your greatest feats of strength that you've performed in training?
The number one thing to me is my willingness to fight for my relationship with Christ. That is number one to me. There are a million people who are stronger than me and better than me in different ways, and overall Christ is first. I want to live a life that is seen worthy in His eyes. Some of my greatest stats other than that is holding the record currently for winning the Iron Man more times than anyone else in history, which is 5 times, and also winning the Arnold Classic 4 times. That one is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Being called "one of the best bodybuilders of all time" by Arnold Schwarzenegger also ranks right up there. Just knowing that people like yourselves who want to know about my life, and fans all over the world who consider me to be one of the best athletes in the world, those are some of the most promising things that I take to heart.
Bottom line, probably the biggest thing is just being accepted for who I am, no matter where I go. Pretty much people just want to be accepted for who they are and not looked at because they are black, white, Mexican, or Asian, or Latino, or straight, gay; just being accepted for who you are. One of the greatest gifts I have is being able to go anywhere in the world and be accepted for who I am and what I've accomplished.
10) Critical Bench: Tell us about your on season training and off season training today. Tell us about your diet. How are they both different from the past?
They way I train and eat now isn't too different from the way I trained before. Obviously, I don't throw up the big weights I once did, but I still have the same mindset I did when I was training before because it works. Why break something that isn't broken, right? As far as my diet, I don't have to go as hardcore there. I'm not up in the 600 grams range of protein. I don't have to be so strict on eating 7 or 8 times a day, and I can be a little more lenient on what I'm doing. So basically, I'm still following along the same lines of eating, dieting and training where I did before. Only it's just not quite as intense. In other words, it isn't going to make or break me if I don't hit my numbers that day as far as my overall caloric intake or whatnot.
11) Critical Bench: So far in your bodybuilding journey and life journey what has been your-
Favorite moment -
No specific one. I just always loved being able to perform to a great audience globally. It is a beautiful feeling; the apex of everything I worked so hard for, all coming together.
Scariest moment -
Obviously, the times where I've been tested in my life. Whether it was driving 170 miles an hour and crashing, which nearly paralyzed me. Over-dieting and ending up in the hospital. Last but not least, finding out about my deadly kidney disease, the multiple surgeries related to it and now the daily threat to my life that it still presents.
Most emotional moment -
There have been so many! Winning the USA, winning the Iron Man multiple times, wining the Arnold Classic multiple times, and having the best Pro debut in the history of bodybuilding. Having my little boy and my little girl, marrying my wonderful wife. It's just way too hard to narrow down to just one, bro.
The moment that changed you the most -
It would have to be when I was completely broken as aperson; I was in the hospital having surgery after surgery based around my kidney transplant. Basically, I had 9 surgeries in 11 weeks. That was probably the most challenging part of my life.
That's intense Flex! The moment you will remember the most -
When we were kings. We roamed the earth and we were kings. It was the era of guys like Shawn Ray, Kevin Levrone, and Paul Dillett. We were at our apex. In my opinion, I think the 90s were probably the greatest time for me and historically for bodybuilding.
12) Critical Bench: What has bodybuilding taught you about life? And what does bodybuilding mean to you?
Bodybuilding has taught me a lot of things, both good and bad. It's taught me to fight for what's mine. It's also taught me about what I never want to go through again. It's taught me that my body is more important than winning shows. It has given me the ability to travel the world and see things I had never seen before. It's given me the ability to take care of my family. What bodybuilding means most to me now is to try and pass on all the positive things that I've learned and went through so that the next generation can enjoy all the great benefits the sport and lifestyle can give them. It's also important to teach them all the bad things too that I went through so they won't have to go through those same things. They can live through my mistakes and avoid them.
13) Critical Bench: List the 5-10 accomplishments you feel most proud of!
Number one is getting to know Christ. Next is meeting my wife Madeline. Having my children. Retiring and finding out what life is really all about. I've been able to fall back in love with my wife and children again; now I appreciate them even more. Learning to appreciate who and what I am and what I've accomplished. Meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger and winning his show more times than anyone else. Being considered one of the best bodybuilders of all time. Being considered a freak of nature. Probably what I am most proud of are all the memories I have now that can never be taken away from me.
14) Critical Bench: How's your family and kids doing?
Everybody is just blessed and doing great. My daughter Brandy, my grandchildren, my son Kennen, my son Darius, and my daughter Nia, and my beautiful wife, Madeline. Everyone is just doing wonderful.
15) Critical Bench: What are your future goals?
To change the world through health, nutrition and through being strengthened by Jesus Christ.
16) Critical Bench: Amen. In closing is there anything else you would like to say or anyone who you would like to thank?
I just want to beg everyone to dare to dream. Don't be scared to dream. Go for it! Find out as much as you can about whatever it is you want to accomplish, and then get it done! Believe in Christ. Have a relationship with Him, and put Him first, and you never can go wrong. Finally, a big "Thank You" to anyone who has ever enjoyed what I've done. And also to anybody who I've ever offended during my career, I beg your forgiveness. Unfortunately, I am only a man who has made many mistakes along the way. God bless you all, I love you all. It's been a great run!!!
The Best of Flex Wheeler Video
2000, 1998, 1997, 1993 Arnold Classic Champion
1998, 1997, 1996, 1995, 1993 Ironman Pro Invitational Champion
1993, 1998, 1999 Olympia 1st Runner-Up
2000 Hungarian Grand Prix Champion
1997 San Jose Pro Champion
1996 Florida Cup Pro Champion
1996 Night of the Champion
1995 South Beach Pro Champion
1993 German Grand Prix Champion
French Grand Prix Champion
1992 USA Heavyweight and Overall Champion
2000, 1998, 1997, 1993 Arnold Classic Most Muscular Trophy
2000 Inducted, Guinness Book Of World Records for:
Most Arnold Classic Titles (4) 5 Time Ironman Pro Classic Winner 2 Time South Beach Pro Winner
Best Pro Debut in History
2007 to Present All American EFX
Director of Media/Public Relations
2002 To Present
Muscular Development Magazine
Exclusive Contributing Writer and photographer
· Contest coverage and analysis
· Host of MDTV
· In-depth athlete interviews, photos
· Monthly column, "ReFLEXions", "Flex Report," "Flex One On One"
1992 To 2003 International Federation of Bodybuilders
1987 To 1992 National Physique Committee
1984 To 1988 Amateur Athletic Union
1987 To 1988 Fresno County Sheriff's Department
1986 Peace Officer State Training
Martial Arts Competitions
2005 Arnold Classic Martial Arts Festival Champion