The main reason I watched Pumping Iron was to get myself in the zone for a weight’s session. It managed that, but it also gave me an interesting insight into competitive body building. It also showed me that in his youth Arnold Schwarzenegger was ultra-competitive and sometimes a bit of a jerk.
The film doesn’t purely focus on Arnie, but it’s how everyone behaves in comparison to him that gives it shape. He’s reminded that ‘the wolf climbing the hill is hungrier than the one at the top’. That would be a problem if everyone else weren’t basically nice people. They have families and a life away from it all. Arnie didn’t even go to his Father’s funeral, as he didn’t see the point!
This clip from the film goes some way to explaining just how into things Arnie is. I don’t tend to share clips but I don’t want to use the words!
So he’s committed to winning, but it’s very interesting to see the mind games. He manages to consistently undermine his competitors, even to their face and in front of their parents. Nothing is seemingly off the table when it comes to gaining the upper hand. He’s a great example of it not all being about genetics. Granted, Arnie is blessed with great genes, but it wouldn’t have come to anything without a frame of mind, tenacity, and work ethic that put the rest to shame. I’ve watched recent videos of him sharing his knowledge and giving motivational speeches. That confidence is still there, but the harsher edges have been tempered by time.
I found the content very interesting, though age and budget don’t do the film any favours. It seems harsh to judge it on present standards though. Pumping Iron is a look into a very different world and well worth watching for anyone curious about Arnie before he was The Terminator.