Jon Bond – Training for the Arnold Classic Asia Strongman

The Arnold Classic is the world’s largest annual bodybuilding competition, named after the legendary professional bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger and from now on, Asia has been added to the list of countries involved; AC Europe, AC South America, AC Australia and the Big AC (US) . The best bodybuilders will travel from across the globe to boast the most incredible, other worldly physiques the world will ever see, in a bid to win The Arnold title. Each competitor will prepare for their most anticipated event of the year and only the strongest and most dedicated professionals will make it to the stage to battle with the cream of the crop in the industry. The 2016 IFBB Pro League categories are Classic, Classic 212, Men’s Physique, Women’s Physique, Figure International, Fitness International, Bikini International, and Pro Wheelchair.

This year, the Arnold Classic is finally making its way to Asia and with Ultimate Performance gyms in both Singapore and Hong Kong, it’s an experience not to be missed. Now in his early 40’s, personal trainer and Hong Kong gym manager Jon Bond has made it very clear there’s no way he would miss out on the opportunity to compete in the world’s most famous physique & performance competition. We will be following Jon on his journey as he prepares to compete in the strongman category giving you the before, during and after of what it’s really like to be a competitor in one of the fitness industry’s largest events.

Where Did it All Start?

I grew up and went to school in Blackpool, and left school at 15 with no qualifications as back then I wanted to follow my dad’s footsteps and become a coach builder! So I completed my YTS as a mechanic (please don’t ask me to look at your car) and after 3 years I decided oil and Swarfega weren’t for me anymore and it didn’t attract the ladies.

After a random chat, with my mum of all people, on what I wanted to do with my life she suggested I work in a gym. I grew up in all kinds of gyms, from boxing gyms to weight rooms so after achieving my level 2 fitness instructor qualification at 19, I became a fitness instructor at my local gym and have since clocked up over 20 years of working within the industry.

How Did You Come to Work for Ultimate Performance?

I was at a turning point in my life and my career and after a looking through Facebook whilst having my morning Starbucks, I saw a job advert for UP Hong Kong. It was a chance to travel and to manage in one of the best known PT companies in the world. I immediately sent a message stating my interest and after a gruelling interview process I was offered the job by Nick Mitchell and Joe Halstead…the rest is history. This was nearly 2 years ago and one of the best decisions in my life.

What Was it Like Walking into the Gym for the First Time? Walking out the First Time and Walking in the Second?

I loved it. After my dad passed away when I was 12, it was my neighbour who introduced me to weight training and martial arts. He took me to his boxing and weight gym, showed me a few basics and even now I remember the sound of people punching the heavy bags and weights clanging; I’ve been hooked ever since.

Do You Have Any Insecurities and How Do You Beat Them?

This isn’t something I tend to speak about these days but back when I was 20 years old, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer. All I remember at that age was being embarrassed that I had lost a testicle and only cared about what the girls would think…it made me feel like I’d lost my ‘manliness’, which is ridiculous when I think about it now as I could have lost my life and that was all I could think of.

Against my doctors wishes, I was back in the gym just 3 weeks later, walking around like John Wayne. Now, I would say this drove me to work my ass off with everything I do. If anything, I only see what happened to me as a positive thing now and the whole experience has made me the person I am today.

What Has Made You Want to Take Part in the Arnold Classic?

I am 42 years old and although my mind and body will argue with me on a daily basis, I’m not ready to grow old just yet. I will always want test myself but not necessarily against others, although of course I’d like to win, but now it’s ‘me vs me’.

“I’m going into my middle ages kicking and screaming like a little child, but I’d have it no other way.”

The Arnold Classic is Coming to Asia for the First Time, What Does This Mean?

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a body building legend and like many of us growing up in the 80’s, he was my hero. This is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to compete at his show so there was no way I was going to pass it up.
I’m just glad they have the Strongman Competition, as the thought of me standing on a stage in my skimpies fills me with dread. Don’t get me wrong, I have huge respect for the bodybuilders but it’s just not for me; I’ll just stick to lifting the heavy stuff.

What Shape Are You in Now?

I’ve always been in good shape. I’ve been boxing and lifting weights since the age of 12, was always active as a kid and I’ve been through the dieting and training process numerous times for competitions. It’s never easy but I’ve also never been on what you might call a ‘strict diet’, I’ve just maintained a reasonably healthy diet and increased or decreased calories depending on my goal.

I just need to lose some weight now. I’m carrying a few injuries, a partially torn bicep tendon which is making training difficult but I’m trying to be sensible; it’s nothing some straps, painkillers, supports and adrenaline won’t fix 😉

What Category or Class Are You Entering and Why?

Under 90kg because I’m not strong enough to compete in the under 105kg!

How Will You Prepare for The Arnold Classic Asia Show?

There is no ‘ideal path’ and being injured means I’m having to adjust my training. I’m currently doing specific strongman event training three times a week, accessory work two or three days and added cardio to help with my weight. I’m steadily dropping calories so I’ll on target with my weight and I don’t really use supplements; just the basics so fish oil, magnesium, glucosamine and chondroitin.

How Will Getting Ready for this Show Affect your Everyday Life?

Well, first off there will be no pizza and no chocolate which is devastating but other than that it won’t really affect my everyday life. The only thing I would say is that people stay out of my way when I’m hungry 😉

What Challenges Do You Think Will Arise Throughout the Preparation?

I think the main thing to look out for is injuries; making it to the start line will keep me happy. To help prevent any injuries, I currently do a 10/15 minute yoga routine everyday to maintain flexibility as well as seeing my physiotherapist for a sports massage and dry needling once a week.

I feel a combination of this helps me to recover from the niggling injuries much quicker on a weekly basis. The torn bicep tendon needs managing just enough to get through the events so I’m only pushing myself about 70% right now. My aim is to do just enough to get there on the day without regressing so I can’t compete.