Frontlines

Being Mr. Canada is not quite enough

Peter Carlyle-Gordge January 22 1979
Frontlines

Being Mr. Canada is not quite enough

Peter Carlyle-Gordge January 22 1979

Being Mr. Canada is not quite enough

Reid Schindle, 29, is a man with problems. For one thing, when he wears a store-bought shirt, the pocket comes just below his armpit. When he walks down the street, perfect strangers either sneer at him or try to fondle his body. And sunbathing on public beaches is like being a reluctant float in the Rose Bowl parade for the decidedly uncocky, quick-to-blush Winnipegger, who is right up there with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Franco Columbo and Lou Ferrigno.

But those problems are minor compared to the decision he now faces: whether to give up the steady, unassuming outdoors life he leads as a federal fisheries inspector and muscle in on the well managed, exhibitionist, superhyped world of the professional body-builder.

Schindle became Mr. Canada in October and placed third out of 86 competi-

tors in the Mr. Universe contest in Acapulco in November. His day begins at 5:30 a.m. with a two-hour workout, followed by two cans of tuna fish, supplemented at 11 a.m. by half a dozen eggs. After work, it’s back to the YMCA for another two hours of exercises, flexing and posing. His interest in becoming a body-builder goes back to age 14, when he saw the winner of the Mr. Manitoba contest at Winnipeg’s Red River Exhibition.

“He had a chest that was absolutely massive and I told myself I’d like to look like that one day,” says Schindle. “I liked the trophy he got too.”

Schindle thinks he would have come second in the Mr. Universe contest, which included competitors from 43 countries, if he had been seven pounds

lighter: “I just wasn’t in the same shape then as I was for the Mr. Canada contest,” he laments. “Diet is always a problem and the Mexicans gave us lots of fruit for breakfast and a lot of the food was greasy. That means carbohydrates.”

In training, he wolfs up to 18 eggs a day, along with three pounds of meat and handfuls of vitamin supplements.

The reward for all this disciplined eating and training is a 32-inch waist, 56-inch chest, 20-inch biceps and 28inch thighs — and a somewhat misleading image, in the eyes of the uninformed public, as a self-sculpting narcissist.

“You have to eat, sleep and breathe body-building if you’re going to make it,” he says. “The mental discipline, as well as the physical side, is very demanding.

“It’s true that some body-builders are egotistical and like to strut in front of mirrors admiring themselves, but we’re not all like that. I do it because I like to set a goal and achieve it. I like to win trophies.”

One of his complaints, shared by most Canadian muscle-sculptors, is that the activity is given little promotion and no government aid. The federal government stopped funding the Canadian Amateur Body-building Association several years ago when the Mr. Universe finals were held in South Africa:

“This is a sport and it takes dedication, and stamina,” says Reid. “It makes the guys boil when the Miss Manitoba winner gets splashed across the front pages, while Mr. Manitoba gets shoved on the back page somewhere.” There are only two body-builder trainers in Canada according to Schindle, and both live in Montreal. One of them, Jimmy Caruso, wants Reid to consider becoming a professional under his tutelage. The goal would be a first place in the Mr. Olympia contest. “One winner of Mr. Olympia found he earned over $1 million for ads, guest appearances and hosting nutrition clinics,” says Schindle. “That sure as hell is more than any civil servant is going to make.”

The decision to go into training for professional contests will have to be made by May, and it also depends on whether Reid and his wife Carol (who thinks body-building is fine, except for the late suppers and strange diets) want to move east. In the meantime, first things first: Schindle has found

someone to tailor-make his shirts so that the pockets lie as normally as possible over the carefully wrought Adirondacks of his chest.

Peter Carlyle-Gordge