MASS appeal

DON’T STRIKE A POSE | Tony Giles pursues a new fitness goal — one more achievable for ordinary (and short) guys. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Trainer and model Tony Giles aims for pro status in
the new physique bodybuilding

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

Tony Giles has spent his career making his body look good. As a personal trainer and fitness model (and occasional adult-film actor, under the name

Tony Da Vinci), he’s probably pumped more iron than most smelters, sculpting his 5-foot-8 frame into a mass of twitching — but well-proportioned muscle.

Then last year, he did something entirely different: He trained as a bodybuilder.

That might sound like the same thing as weightlifting, but it’s not. Competitive bodybuilders aren’t about aesthetics as much as they are sheer size: The bigger, more grotesquely inhuman the bicep, the farther you go. And boy does it take a lot of effort.

When Giles entered the Europa competition in Dallas last summer, he fared very well, winning several accolades. He promised himself he’d compete again. And he is, this weekend.

Only this time, he’s keeping it real.

“They started a new category this year: Physique,” he says over a lunch of lean turkey. “It’s not about size; they judge you in four categories: Conditioning, muscularity, presentation and overall package. There’s no posing, and you wear board shorts [instead of a G-string]. I saw that and thought, ‘I look like that category already! That’s what I do!’”

What does that mean for Giles? It means the last two months have been hard on him, but tolerable.

This year’s regimen has been easier as well because he did not have to substantially reconfigure his weight training and diet as he did for bodybuilding.

“I didn’t want to put my body through that again,” even though he found himself addicted to the results of his efforts and his success on the runway.

Since May, he has subsisted on the exact same diet day in and out: eight egg whites and a cup of steel-cut oats for breakfast, then every two or three hours alternating between 8 oz. of lean chicken and tilapia. Low carbs. No beef. Higher intake of good fats.

“Chicken of course is chicken,” he says. “Tilapia is one of the leanest fish — low in Omega-3 fats. And the oils actually make your skin thinner, which lets your muscles pop more.”

A symmetrical physique is the goal of this new category, which Giles says was instituted by the controlling federation to make bodybuilding appeal more to a mass audience: Many average folks are put off by the completely unachievable looks of the competitors at the top of their profession.

“A lot of the guys in this category [there’s only one division, not several divided by weight class] are smaller like me,” Giles says. “A lot of people see someone like me and think, ‘That look could be achievable for me.’”

Giles’ exercise routine has included vastly more cardio than he usually does, as well as lot of core stabilizing training. To get his proportions right, however, Giles had to sacrifice one thing: His legs.

“I have basically done no leg or back work [since I started training],” he says. His thighs have always been a selling point for Giles, reaching a circumference up to 27 inches. “My waist is only 29 inches, so my legs were almost as big around as my waist.”

If things go well on Friday — that’s when the prejudging takes place, and Giles finds out if he’s even in the top 5 — he could qualify for the national competition in September, where winning qualifies you as a professional. He hopes to win, of course … but after all that tilapia, he’s also craving a big juicy burger.

Europa Super Show, Dallas Convention Center, 201 Griffin St. Aug. 12–13.
For training information, call 469-835-5964.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 12, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tony Giles wins at Europa

Tony Giles
Tony Giles

If you’re gonna compete in a bodybuilding contest, here’s a good pieces of advice: Talk to me first.

Earlier this year, I profiled porn star Mark Dalton prior to his competing in the Ronnie Coleman Classic, a well-known muscle show here in the Metroplex, and Dalton won first place in the novice heavyweights category and best overall novice.

Then a few weeks ago, I profiled Tony Giles, who models as Tony DaVinci, as he prepared for the Europa Supershow event, which took place last weekend in Dallas. And how did he do? Best novice middleweight, best novice overall and best open middleweight — the most medals of anyone there. Not bad for first-timer. (Dalton also competed at Europa, in the light-heavyweight category, but failed to place.)

Great results for Giles, though it was, he admits, different that what he expected would happen.

Giles had planned to compete as a light-heavyweight (Dalton’s class), but the day of the weigh-in — following a water fast and taking diuretics — he had dropped too many pounds to qualify.

“On Thursday I weighted 182 and by weigh-in on Friday I was 176,” he says. That was too low for light-heavyweight and the lightest he could be and still qualify as a middleweight. It may have been a blessing, though. “It was actually a good thing because those guys were huge.”

Tony Giles
Tony Giles

Even Giles admits the loss of fat — and water — made him look gaunt if not actually unrecognizable, so the first thing he did was eat: A cheeseburger, french fries and carrot cake, followed that evening with pizza. No food ever tasted so good. The proof? In less than a week, Giles has bulked up again by 29 lbs., clocking in at 205.

Despite all the torment, he plans to compete again. He’s on vacation this week and will skip the next season, but plans to be back for the Junior USA contest after that. He’ll need to change the regimen for that one, though: He needs to gain 15 pounds of muscle.

Piece of cake. Carrot cake. And only when he’s done.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Suffering for a body of work

Fitness model and trainer Tony DaVinci comes out — as a bodybuilder. Don’t envy him

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor

BEFORE AND AFTER | The difference between a fitness model and a bodybuilder is evident from DaVinci’s physique above, taken in March, and at right, taken in July. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Convention Center
650 N. Griffin St.
Aug. 13–14. $20–$100.
For schedule, visit

While attending a bodybuilding show earlier this summer, Tony Giles realized it was time for him to come out of the closet.

Giles — known in the adult fitness model world as Tony DaVinci — isn’t gay, but he’s long denied what he really was: A freakishly over-muscled bodybuilder trapped in a disgustingly well-built man’s body.

Giles has spent literally half his life working out, and most of that time training his clients about how to get their bodies in shape. But “in shape” is one thing; a muscle-bound mass of twitching protein is another. But just two months ago, it’s what he decided to do. He’ll compete in the Europa Show at the Dallas Convention Center next weekend.

“I was at the Lone Star Classic on June 3 and I realized it’s something I’ve always wanted to do but suppressed because of what I knew it would take.

Bodybuilding is a different world from fitness modeling: It’s expensive, time-consuming, self-absorbing and addictive. It’s a lot of suffering. I’m hungry all the time and have to do lots of cardio.”

The training is much more intense than typical fitness-model hunkiness. It’s harder to lose body fat than to put on muscle, and bodybuilders must do both. And the time frame of has to be telescoped into about two months to maximize effort. It isn’t easy. Or cheap.

“I had to hire a coach to tell me what to do — you see yourself different. I had to hire a posing coach. I get a massage weekly,” Giles says.
And there’s the food: Lots of protein shakes, very rigid intakes of specific proteins (dense beefs early on to pack on muscle, leaner poultry as posing day nears). There’s even a lot of fat in the diet.

“I eat four tablespoons of peanut butter every day. I packed on meat to get to 195 — now I have to lean down to 187. And I will make that weight.” He’ll compete in two classes with crossover weight ranges: Novice middleweight and open light heavyweight.

And for what: A fleeting moment of glory.

“You spend eight to ten weeks to spend two minutes onstage to prove yourself standing next to ten other people,” Giles admits. “Bodybuilding is an illusion: If you’re a good-looking guy, bodybuilding likes that.”

Judges rate contestants on how aesthetically: For posing, muscularity and symmetry.

“I’ve learned a lot about my body, about training styles and broadened by experience and personal training. My clients have noticed a huge change in my physique in five to six weeks.”

Does he have any — ahem — chemical support for his regimen?

“A lot of people ask if I take steroids. If I say no, people will assume I am anyway, so I just leave it at that,” he says.

Even without steroids, though, bodybuilding ravages the body as much as it sculpts it. Seven days out from the competition, Giles will cut out carbs completely and drown himself with water — two gallons a day. Three days out, he reverses the process, carbo-loading. The 12 hours before he takes to the stage, no liquids at all. And as soon as it’s over, he’ll gorge on a burger and cheesecake.

“You have to make sure you have a balance. Mentally, it can mess you up. And the condition you have to be at is very unhealthy,” he says. “You can only be at 3 to 4 percent body fat for a day — 12 to 15 percent is average for a man.” He’ll be under 5 percent on game day.

Although the Europa Show is a qualifier for the national title competition in October, Giles isn’t sure he’ll continue on with bodybuilding once this cycle is over.

“And there’s no money in it until you go pro, though it could be beneficial to my training career,” he says.
So why do it?

“It’s ego,” he says. “I’m in it to win it. If I went to the gym and saw a guy that I thought, ‘He will beat me,’ I’d drop out.”

Yeah, like that’ll happen.
For training and nutrition consultation, call 469-835-5964.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas