Flex Wheeler on whether or not he enjoyed being a pro bodybuilder: It was a job.
To many, Flex Wheeler is one of the biggest legends in professional bodybuilding. Despite never winning a Mr. Olympia trophy, his physique has been revered by fans, athletes, and bodybuilding historians alike. Wheeler has since retired from the sport and also faced health issues that led to the amputation of his leg. But his iconic run as a bodybuilder still lives on to this day. That’s why we’ve pulled unseen interview footage of Wheeler from the cutting room floor of Generation Iron 2. In our GI Exclusive Vault interview, Flex Wheeler talks about how professional bodybuilding always felt more like a job than anything else… and how the business side of bodybuilding took away his love of the game.
Most athletes discover their love of a sport not because they want to make tons of money but because they have a genuine passion for the sport. Flex Wheeler is no different. He was a man who discovered a deep passion for weightlifting, training, and sculpting his physique. But he quickly realize that his genetic potential also made him a promising athlete that could turn pro and start winning prize money.
Flex Wheeler grew up in a low income childhood, he struggled, and he also faced extreme bullying due to his skinny physique. That’s what first kickstarted his desire to train and change his body. Upon seeing the results, the passion grew. But what also grew was a desire to find success. To earn money and finally live a life without financial struggle.
Flex Wheeler in his prime (above).
Upon going pro, Flex Wheeler realized that competitive bodybuilding was no longer simply a passion – it was his job. He cared less about the glory of winning a first place title. He was more concerned with earning the prize money that came with it. Your excellence as a competitive bodybuilder directly determines how much money you make. Unlike normal jobs – simply showing up to work doesn’t guarantee you a stable paycheck.
This holds true for all professional bodybuilders. The goal is to turn their passion of the sport into a full time job. That way they can focus solely on being the best bodybuilder in the world.
During our interview taping for Generation Iron 2, we asked Flex Wheeler if he enjoyed being a pro bodybuilder. He explains that at first he loved it. It was the realization of his passion. But very quickly it dawned on him that this was his job. Once this mentality entered his mind, the luster of the sport started to fade.
“That’s how I pay my bills. That’s how I feed myself. It was a job to me.” Flex Wheeler states in our interview. He continues:
“When you switch from being an athlete to taking care of yourself and your family, it changes everything. It changes your whole mentality and the way you look at thing. So it kind of steals the love away from the game. Because you find out that, no, there’s a business behind this.”
Flex Wheeler goes on to say that the switch in mentality stole the thunder away from the glory of the sport. Does this mean Wheeler hated being a bodybuilder? Most certainly not. But he was no longer able to love the pure core of the sport the same way. Like any job, sometimes it can feel like a grind.
You can check out Flex Wheelers full comments in our latest GI Exclusive Vault interview segment above! And for those looking to relive Generation Iron 2 – you can click here or the banner below to own it on digital today!