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)

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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.