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Life In Venice

After saying goodbye to Frank, I got into my little rented car and drove to Santa Monica, where I checked into to the Huntley House hotel, a lovely inn Iíd recommend to anyone. Itís well-situated, and a short walk to the beach. I arrived in Santa Monica late in the day on Wednesday July 5. The beaches are gorgeous, with easy friendly waves for beginner surfers, at least on that dayÖ

I called Goldís Gym in Venice and set up an appointment for 10:00 AM the next morning with "a trainer". I figured, Iíll go with whatever trainer they offered. That night, I ate at Schatziís, the restaurant owned by Arnold and wife Maria, right near the boundary where Venice begins. The Big Guy was "out of town", said an overly friendly maitre-d. I was still on my ketogenic diet, so I ordered an omelet.

Next morning, I arrived at the one-and-only Goldís Gym in Venice, for my 1 hour session with "the trainer", who turned out to be Tito Ray, a pro bodybuilder and contender for Mr. America. Goldís looked daunting, as Iíd expected it would Ė a massive gym with massive bodies of all ages. Males and females, and some other hybridsÖ

Tito was finishing up a workout. He was doing lunge-walks with an 80 pound DB in each hand, each contraction pushing a web of vascularity out from his quads. The 80 pounders then became 100s. Tito was affable and communicative, and turned out to be an excellent trainer. I explained to him I wanted to work my back, and that back was a weak point in my physique esthetic. He responded with exactly what I needed. Unlike many pro-bodybuilders who train others and who need to show you how great THEY are, Tito focussed on my needs and my agenda. In fact, my new 4-way split is based on Titoís split, in terms of body parts. Back and Triceps, instead of back and biceps, as the biceps are already partially spent by the time Iíve done back, but the triceps are fresh. Similarly, a day of Chest-Biceps for the same reason. I had previously been using a three-way split in order to work each body part more frequently, but Iíve gone back to a 4-way, so I can really work each body part more intensively. To view my entire routine, go to

Hereís what Tito and I did that day.

  1. Wide-Grip Chins: When he saw my form on the chin bar, he insisted we go to the Gravitron and take 50 Ė 80 lbs off my 180 lb load. I never liked using the Gravitron before, because I thought it was a cop-out (you know, for wussesÖ) But Tito convinced me of the benefits of better form, and he was right. Chins need to be done with elbows back, chest out, shoulders back, rib cage out. Thatís impossible to do when youíre struggling to make the distance. On the Gravitron, using this proper form, I felt my lats swell like never before.
  2. One-arm DB Row: Again, focus on form so I can feel the muscles. This time he had me up to a heavier poundage than I usually do, with 70 lb DBs. Here again, the end of the positive entailed a chest-out movement. Also, we did not use a bench, just a three-legged stance, with two legs back and one arm bracing against the DB rack. Frank Zane also did them like that.
  3. Deadlifts: Tito likes full deads, not the halfs that I was doing. I have since decided to do both, from time to time, because the halfs enable me to go to a heavier weight and develop my upper back. For the full deads, we took the weight down to single 45 plate per side, as opposed to the peak of nearly three plates a side for my halfs. There was great attention to form.
  4. Wide-Grip Pulldown: Again, the focus was elbows back, and the buttocks back of the seat with chest out. For the first time, I feel Iím doing this common exercise correctly. For the first time, I felt my lats become rock hard and swollen as I pulled the bar down.

We finished the workout with three tricep exercises Ė single-arm pressdowns, EZ bar French Press / Close Grip Press supersets, and machine dips.

Tito was great, and I would highly recommend him to anyone who goes to Venice. He can be reached directly at