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.