Gunter Schlierkamp: I Competed In Bodybuilding When It Was At Its Best

Gunter Schlierkamp details the excitement he had moving to America and training at Gold’s Gym in the 90s.

It’s often said that the 90s into the early 2000s is the new Golden Era of bodybuilding. Or perhaps the second coming of the Golden Era. With athletes like Flex Wheeler, Ronnie Coleman, Kevin Levrone, and Shawn Ray among others – it’s hard to disagree. It also seems that Gunter Schlierkamp shares this sentiment as well. Schlierkamp was an outsider who entered into American pro bodybuilding during this time. In our latest GI Exclusive interview, Gunter Schlierkamp reflects on his journey to becoming pro and why he’s glad he was lucky enough to compete in what he calls the best era of bodybuilding.

No one is born a bodybuilder. If you were to look back at childhood photos of any famous bodybuilder – you would likely not expect how physically massive they would eventually become. That’s what makes origin stories so fascinating in this sport. There are millions of avenues and walks of life that eventually point towards pro bodybuilding. For Gunter Schlierkamp – his journal also involved leaving his home country to find his footing in the United States.

During our conversation with Gunter Schlierkamp, we asked him to reflect on how he discovered bodybuilding and what brought him to America. He details how quickly he saw growth once he fell in love with weightlifting. Eventually, his physique was so impressive – someone took him under his wing. That person insisted that he needs to go to America. He wanted him to compete with the greats at events like Night of Champions and, of course, the Mr. Olympia.

Gunter Schlierkamp’s journey to the United States was not an easy one. He describes first arriving and having to basically find places to sleep like a nomad. He would sleep in abandoned factories and in cars. He went head first into traveling to America and it took him some time to get his financial footing. Since he couldn’t get a bank account – he trusted someone to take his money and keep it in a bank for him. That ended poorly as he was taken advantage of.


Ultimately he made his way to California, got some financial footing, and started training at Gold’s Gym. He gushes at how lucky he was to be born at a time when he would compete and train in the 90s.  Suddenly he went from idolizing athletes like Flex Wheeler to being in the same room and training alongside him. It was a dream come true.

He also believes that he competed at the best time in bodybuilding history because of the famous Joe Weider contracts. At a time before social media and over-saturation of supplement companies – Schlierkamp was able to land a Weider contract. It was like becoming a salary employee in bodybuilding. Suddenly his passion for bodybuilding was his full time career.

Today, those kind of contracts don’t happen. While there is more opportunity for profit – it’s more entrepreneurial. It relies on social media excellence (which also requires a little bit of luck) to obtain followers and generate revenue. There’s more control – but also more risk. Internet relevancy can turn on a dime.

You can watch Gunter Schlierkamp go into more detail about his bodybuilding origins and why he believes the 90s is the best era for competitive bodybuilding. Watch it all in our latest GI Exclusive interview segment above!