This article was written in 2008 I hope you enjoy it Ian x
Time With The Master Robby Robinson
Day 1- Sun 21st Sept
I got up at my normal time of 4:00am, had a bath and a shave and got dressed, all the while trying not to disturb the family. Stood in the kitchen eating an oatcake and drinking a strong black coffee, my mind settled on the sort of mixed feelings I was having. Yes, I was excited for my trip and I anticipated all I would absorb and be able to use in the future, but I also felt sad that my family was not going with me.
What with the kids in school and Louise not being able to have time off work I would be travelling alone. Chris, my old buddy came round for me, to take me to Manchester Airport. After leaving the family a note, I popped my bags in the boot and I was on my way, the start of a long journey.
Everything went smoothly, the airport check ins and other what not’s all went fine and I was soon on a Virgin Atlantic flight bound for LAX Airport- with 11 hours of flying ahead, I am glad that they let me on the plane with my trusty oatcakes. I used the time to read (as always) and to write some business goals and a new business structure. I have a ton of ideas and goals and they all need a structure, otherwise they get lost between the ears and never see the light of day, so I sat and dissected each and every one. Yes, I will improve my business further with this trip, but I will also get time to look after me.
Believe it or not, being the top trainer that I am, I am very busy. This leaves little time for ‘me’. I try to give to family and clients and this makes for really unsociable hours of working out. It’s work at 4:50am, train at 5:30am, work by 6:15am. I can only do my own training 3 days a week tops; as with all the hours and how active I am there would be no recovery time. So this week will be a chance to train when I want, eat good food and not rush around. To relax after a workout for a little while- never happens- so it will be a nice change- watch me be bored, ha-ha.
The Meeting with Robby
When the plane landed, feelings of apprehension built up in me, knowing I was going to meet with someone very famous in our world. After a lengthy, drawn out customs procedure I claimed my bags and moved outside into the street level of LAX Airport.
Soon after a black Ford jeep pulls up and out steps Robby and his partner Arden. Robby just grabs my hand and gives me a hug, and then so does Arden, who is tall and elegant with long blonde hair. Robby-who is dressed in a black long sleeved t-shirt and trousers – looks muscular, sleek and athletic. The way he moves defies his age.
One of the first things I noticed about Robby is his impeccable manners- as he even walks round to open the car door for Arden. Where has that gone? (Louise and I were only talking about that the other day- another article perhaps.) After a chat about the flight and what not, Robby says, “Let’s get you something to eat.”
In a shot we are at The Firehouse, a very famous restaurant that caters for bodybuilders, and it is walking distance from the famous Gold’s Gym. I sat there tucking into my buffalo pate and rice and veg. Chatting along with this lovely couple, with the sun blazing outside just blew my mind. One minute it seemed I was in bed at home and the next I’m here. Very surreal.
Later Robby and Arden dropped me off at the Foghorn Harbor Inn. A beautiful little hotel-that overlooks the marina and has a beach right on its doorstep. Just beautiful, I checked in and made my way to my room. After unpacking I decided to go for a walk. Just heading out of the door Robby calls on the phone to ask if everything is ok and if I am settled. I thank him and he says, “I will pick you up in the morning for a workout.”
Oh yeah, I thought, I’m going to train with the man!!!
I spent a good two hours walking and getting my bearings. I have been here twice before and can vaguely remember how to get about. Being a coffee lover, I searched out the nearest Starbucks. I found one not far from the beachfront and went in to get my fix and was amazed to find you can get a shot of protein in it. I didn’t, but I got a coffee to take out and walked around with it to look all American like
Day 2 – Workout 1
Very little sleep as always, I spent the night looking at the clock and was excited at the prospect of the day ahead. After a breakfast of oats, honey and protein powder I headed onto the beach with my bag of books and writing pad. As I write and look out at the view, a young lad behind me in the parking area conducts a boot camp style workout.
What a life, eh?
After writing and planning- time, income and the sale of the new DVD- I took a walk around the marina. As I headed around the Marina I came across Marina Fitness Gym- with a fitness café below it. This once again was overlooking the marina. I looked at my watch –time was going real slow—time for something to eat though, so headed in the cafe
I ordered oats and egg whites-the menu on the wall called it- Lou’s Special- like my little man I thought. As I sat overlooking the Marina eating this, I thought about how health orientated is this. Anybody who cares about the way they look and if their life is built around ‘the iron’. – “You Must Come Here.”
It’s Disneyland for the bodybuilder and fitness enthusiast.
Around lunchtime Robby and Arden picked me up and we headed to Marina Fitness- right above where I had a meal earlier. First we sat outside for 5-10 minutes, where upon Arden filmed Robby and myself talking about training, nutrition and supplements. This ended up being quite extensive and deep. We then headed into the gym for a Shoulders and Arms workout.
This was to be a Giant Set type workout, thereby going from one exercise to another. I have always prided myself on being able to put myself in a position of muscle stimulation, but Robby took me to another level. The setting up of my body prior to movement was a big factor and staying there through the entire set, is what killed you.
Here is what we did, the entire session lasted around 45 minutes:
Standing Front Press for delts, Seated Lat Raise, Bent Over Lat Raise, Close Grip Press, Curls, Overhead Cable Pushouts, Cable Curls. We then started the whole process again with a little more weight; the aim was 12 reps on the first round, 8-10 on the second, then 6 on the third. I could not believe how much I could feel the muscle with the prompting from Robby on form.
The entire workout was filmed as were the others and some of it will be on Robby’s site, then for sale soon after. The filming is something I will have to do with my clients in the future as you can only absorb so much at once and the luxury of having a DVD to watch time and time again will allow you to soak up as much as possible. Knowledge is power and you can never learn enough or know it all- never stop learning.
After the workout, we had a post workout drink of juice, glutamine and flax oil and then headed off for some much needed food. Robby and Arden took me to the farmers market. This I was blown away by- rows upon rows of organic natural foods. One part of the store had a point in which you picked some meat and it was cooked for you while you waited- I picked buffalo pate again, Robby a beef skewer and Arden a chicken skewer. We then purchased rice and veg from other departments and sat down to eat it.
Like I said it is a bodybuilders’ Disneyland.
Later Robby and Arden dropped me back at the hotel and I had time to reflect. It was just an awesome day- learnt a lot- trained hard and enjoyed every minute.
I cannot wait till tomorrow’s Chest and Back workout.
Day 3 – Workout 2
I awake with a start on the day. Right away I took my morning supplements that Robby had structured out for me for the days ahead, I washed these down with cold, clean water. After morning rituals I headed out for breakfast at the Marina Fitness café. I had the usual- oats, egg whites and blueberries with a black coffee and more supplements.
I will write more about supplements at another time when I know more about their role in how Robby has structured them. After that awesome breakfast I was ready for anything. I was scheduled to meet Robby and Arden at 9am for Chest and Back work after which they planned to take me to the Santa Monica Stairs, all 198 of them going all the way up and of course down. With the time I had between breakfast and the workout I headed to the beach to do a little more writing.
We hooked up outside the gym and once again did a little filming before heading inside for the workout. Chest and Back was the order of the day. Here is what we did:
To start with we did an exercise that Robby has done for years for opening out the lats, hard to explain, but it is a little like a vacuum pose. I found this exercise a lot harder on the muscles than it looked. But thought it would be fantastic for those clients that struggle with a lat spread and the front relaxed pose, as it really helped you open up. After a little band work for posture.
We then move to Low Pulley Rows using a handle that Robby explained was used by all the greats in the sport – Arnold, Edd Corney, Zane, the original Gold’s gang- and it was made by Joe Gold himself. It made the Low Rows even more special, I tell you, knowing the history behind the bar. We did these much different to what I had done in the past and I felt them really deep in the whole of my lat. We did one set of 12-15 reps. Again guys all this will be available on the DVD.
We then moved to Dead lifts in the rack. Again style was the main focus and correct body mechanics at all times, we did a set each of ten reps. Chest was up next- Robby expressed that he was a great fan of Vince Gironda and had always wanted to train with him but never got the chance. Robby also said he has used some of Vince’s techniques for many years.
Hence we moved on to a Flat Bench Neck Press-like a bench press but the bar travels more towards the upper peck neck area. This will place the stress a little more on the upper pec area. We did a set each with a weight that allowed 12 reps.
Next up we did a Dumbbell Flat Bench Press for 12 reps, very strict movement with a hard contraction and a deep stretch. Over the years I have read in articles ‘squeeze the contraction, feel the movement, concentrate’– and I have done that, but not on this level. I had been well and truly schooled.
We then headed back through the gym to the Low Pulley Row, with the priceless handle in tow. In fact it went everywhere with us, it was like another training partner. We add weight and Robby again went through a picture perfect set and then made sure I got a perfect set also by constantly- encouraging and correcting- “Come on Ian, I’m going to get my reps, make me work now, come on”- in that deep unmistakable voice. I got 10 reps here.
Then it was back to Dead Lifts, with again a little more on the bar. We followed this up with Neck Press again, a little more weight, a little more feel and even better reps- 10 reps each. Dumbbell Press next –yes you are getting the sequence, 10 reps again.
After this we did two sets of Pullover and Press- 85lbs for Set One and 75lbs for Set Two with an even deeper stretch. This was a great movement that I felt in the lats and chest. This was the hardest movement for me, as Robby demanded a deep; deep stretch hence the lighter weight on the second set. We finished up the workout with a set of Chins.
All the time that I had spent with Robby and Arden I had never seen any of Robby’s physique, he constantly wore a Built T shirt, sometimes two- and a vest. With a little prompting from Arden and myself he took his tops off in the studio room. As you can see from the shots, he looks fantastic- this is Robby’s everyday look, a physique that is built with good clean foods and clean living and training. Drugs in the sport were responsible for a very small part of his bodybuilding efforts, he built his size the natural way and that’s why today at 62, yes he is 62 in these photos, he looks like he does.
After a post workout drink in the Jeep, we headed for the Santa Monica steps. These famous steps were situated in the Santa Monica Valley. I was surprised to see a horde of people on them- some even held light dumbbells and pumped away with their arms as they went up and down them. We parked at the top and headed all the way down the 198 steps, and then we began the climb.
They were very steep and it really got stuck into the hips, glutes and calves. Robby and myself did a round then Arden, then it was Robby and I again followed by Arden. This was followed by an ice-cold regulator drink with added Glutamine by Robby and Arden. Everything was taken care of. This was something they did to a fault- they looked after me like you wouldn’t believe. They were very thoughtful and caring- the passion for this- just jumps out at you.
Drinking the ice cold post workout drink and looking out over the valley, was just heaven and it was a beautiful day. After that fantastic workout and stair climb it was time for another meal. Robby and Arden knew of just the spot. They took me to a beautiful little restaurant that is frequented by Hollywood stars and sports celebs whereupon we ordered and tucked into a ‘Trainer’s Special’ as the menu said- egg whites, rice, fruit and whole-wheat pancakes.
In between eating, we filmed a little more and covered subjects like- business- and how I train the bodyindesign girls, also how incredibly strong they are. Robby also talked about competing and how people should not do long duration CV- this I smiled at, as I have been banging on about not doing CV for a long time now.
After this delicious meal we headed to their home, as Arden has some things there for me. My eyes lit up upon seeing a draft copy (that nobody else has yet seen outside of the family) of Robby’s biography book The Black Prince. This I was very humbled by. I was also given a watermelon and some low salt, low yeast bread bought from the farmer’s market that they visit regularly.
They then dropped me off back at my hotel. After a shower I headed out to my favorite spot for writing. Sat in the sun, I reflected on the day as I wrote the piece you have just read. I watched the sun go down on an awesome day and was excited at what was in-store tomorrow.
Day 4 – off day from training
After breakfast, a little walk and phoning home Robby and Arden picked me up. They took me to an organic market in Santa Monica where they buy their food supplies. This was paradise again for me- row after row of fresh from the farm foods as Robby put it.
Robby went off shopping and Arden and I went off in another direction. This gave me the chance to have a nice chat with her about how much I think Robby is grounded with her. Behind every great man there is a great woman and she is no exception. You can see the love and respect these two people have for each other. He is constantly the gentleman with her. So you guys out there tell your girl that you love em and appreciate all that they do for you. You never realise what you have- till it’s gone.
After the market Robby and Arden took me to a store where Robby buys the herbs that he uses in this master plan. He picked them out for me and Arden and I weighed them. Herbs, Robby explains, are something that have been used for many hundreds of years and are something he has always used himself.
We bagged up about seven and he said he would take them home and ground them up for me then drop them off later and show me how to structure their use. I was looking forward to this because in only 3 days I could see a difference in my physique. Some of this is due to rest, as I don’t normally stop, but most definitely some of this is also due to the advanced balance of supplements and training, with good food also of course.
I came out here in good shape, I never lose my abs, but I lacked a little muscle fullness and was not as vascular as normal. But now I looked full and hard. My skin also looked better from the use of oils Robby had given me to try out. This is something I had been concerned about as I am now 42 and my skin is not as tight as it was when I was younger.
Robby gave me the oils he uses. Yes, he is black- and genetically he would not age as much as a white guy – having said that he is 62 and looks under 40. There is only so much that is genetic. I thought it was just genetic but having spoken at length about this I found that- no- he works at it- he looks after himself. He uses oils for his face when shaving and oils his body many times a day; also the right supplements are used for anti ageing.
Sure enough later, around noon, Robby came by with the packs of herbs and told me the best times to use them for the best effects. He also said he had a surprise for me and had ordered a cab to take us there. We headed to downtown LA to Wiltshire BLVD for a Pilates session. Robby had booked me in with a young lady he uses often for body alignment, Miki Muller. For the next 45 minutes Miki put me through a series of movements to work deep into the core of my body and lengthen my spine. All the while Robby laughed at me-“Work that man, make him have it Miki.” She had me in positions I didn’t know I could do and I like to think I fared well. The positions plus the breathing exercises made me feel relaxed and deep down worked all at the same time. She was very good and very professional and knew the body inside out- Robby told me later that she is the best there is and anybody who is anybody goes to her; she’s the best in the USA.
Visit with Dean
Now here was a whole new world of experience for me. Dean was featured in Robby’s Built DVD and everything that was done here today was filmed for the Master Plan DVD featuring all that Robby, Arden and I did over this week. I say that because the session I had here was so advanced that I would have to write a book, to even touch on the work here. So I will cover in brief and you can see the footage yourself.
Dean is what you call a body mechanics master; his knowledge is off the charts. Basically he worked on the fascia tissue of the body and released it, so perfect body mechanics could be used and therefore allowing more efficient movement, range of motion and even distribution of load. Robby was first on the table and I watched as he got extreme ranges of motion from him all the while explaining what he was doing and why. Dean is a huge guy and Robby was putty in his hands.
After Robby it was my turn, I was filled with a bit of apprehension. Dean stood and looked at me- I wondered what he was looking at and looked behind me. This got a laugh from everyone. Basically he was checking me out, lining me up in his mind. When I stood I had one hip further forward than the other. Heavy dead lifts had twisted me so my right side was forward and up from the hip region. When I laid on the table, I was worked and manipulated from many angles that you just have to see to believe the range of motion that he got in my shoulders- it freaked me out. A fantastic experience worth the DVD price alone as you will learn so much about the human body and it’s workings.
Later on that day I decided I would have a walk to The Firehouse for a meal. The mechanics work made me feel so good, my body was like a fine tuned machine and as fluid as water itself. I could not believe how good I felt, walking along the beachfront. This is just an awesome vacation and learning experience all in one.
Before heading in for a meal I called into Gold’s. I as having a look around the shop there for some trackies and heard a voice “Hey are you Ian Duckett?” Yes it’s true, I kid you not. All the bloody way out here and I bump into two great English lads who’s names escape me (so guys I know you read my blogs so please email me so I can keep in contact).
We had a chat and they said they had seen me win the Pro Am last year and we took photos- this I was so humbled by as there we are with the world’s best bodybuilders around us and they want to talk to me and take photos. Thank you guys, you made my day even more special. Later when I sat in the Firehouse I wished I had asked them to join me. Hope you enjoyed your stay guys and your trip to the Olympia.
Day 5 –Legs
I always think that the mark of a bodybuilder is how he can train his legs. You have to have a certain kind of mental strength to develop good legs. In my time I have done my fair share of hard legwork and I looked forward to what Robby had in store for me. Meeting Robby and Arden at the gym- Arden wanted to run through some back stretches for me after my work with Dean yesterday. Just prior to that, we had another interview outside covering the last four days work.
As we started the workout with some ab work, Robby showed me a great exercise I had never done before or even seen. It was very effective and I could feel it in the whole length of my abs. After 4 sets of this they were toasted and we moved on to.
We started out with Leg Extensions and combined these with Leg Curls. Robby was- as always- a stickler for style. He also explained his visualisation techniques. Reps were performed in a machine like style, picture perfect. We did one set each of 15 reps and moved to Leg Press with 4 plates a side for 15 reps each. Robby had me perform these nice and deep, slow and controlled with constant tension. We then went back to Leg Extensions and Leg Curls with a little more weight and around 12 reps each. Back to the Leg Press with 6 plates a side for 12 reps and then added another 2 plates taking it up to 8 plates a side for 10 reps. These were very tough to do right and a lot more painful.
It was then back to the extensions and Leg Curls, these were the hardest sets with a hard contraction at the completion of each rep. Robby made sure I got the reps and in picture perfect style, as always. It’s amazing how hard you will work, when one of the world’s best bodybuilders and legends is encouraging you to do one more rep.
Calves were next up with 4 sets of Seated Calve Raises with the magic Robby difference. He demanded a deep, deep stretch and a high, high contraction squeezing like mad. It had been a few years since I had used a Seated Calve Machine and it bit really deep. I knew I would be in pain in the morning.
I really enjoyed this workout and I had absorbed once again, a world of information and felt it also. After such work Robby said we needed to eat, so off we went to The Firehouse for some Buffalo, rice and veg. Hard work and good food, a large part of Robby’s master plan.
We planned to do interviews today for the DVD so after a visit to another fresh market whereupon Robby and Arden introduced me to Wheatgrass. This they have once a week- shot like- like in an alcoholic shot- but this being way better for you. The green liquid looked like swamp water and I didn’t relish the taste of it, or much- like the look of it. Robby had two and Arden one- so I was in a corner- yep down it went- actually it was ok and tasted like sugar snap peas. Apparently very good as an antioxidant and has many other properties.
We headed down to the beach near my hotel for an interview, regarding all we had done over the past few days. I must say we covered tons here. Robby talked about the old days, his training now and then, his philosophies, his goals and also mine. We had a real good chat and a laugh. Robby was in great form and he always, always impresses me.
After saying goodbye for that day, I set off into Santa Monica via the bus system that was an adventure in itself. I wanted to do a little shopping before heading home in a couple of days. I had some money of Heather’s burning a hole in my pocket and I wanted some new clothes for myself. I was the typical guy, in one shop I bought it all and was out and done. Bing- bang- bosh- I don’t mess about with shopping.
When I got back to my room I headed out for some food at the Marina Café just down from my hotel. Yep it’s work is this; hope you feel sorry for me. I ordered egg whites, avocado and veg in a whole meal wrap- it was awesome. You have to try this; I eat it while reading and looking out over the Marina.
In between bites I read and have read Robby’s biography over the last couple of days and find it to be an inspiring, eye-opening read. It was very in depth and deep, with a ton of motivation, I am sure Robby and Arden are on with a great seller here as it is very well written and has taken a year or so to produce. I was honored to be one of the few to read it before it goes to print. The sun shone down on the countless yachts bobbing up and down in the gentle breeze. The water clipped at the side’s harbor – yep this is the life.
Then I burnt my lip with some egg white.
‘Pleasure pain thing’.
The plan tomorrow is for me to train. I haven’t planned to train with Robby again now, but I thought I would head down to Gold’s for a quick workout and a study up on what’s out there in equipment. So that’s what I will do in the morning and then I’ll meet with Robby and Arden in the afternoon.
I got up early and had my supplements and green tea, showered and shaved and had a breakfast in my room of oats and protein with a black coffee. I then set off walking to Gold’s. I walk along the beachfront then head inland a couple of blocks and I am there. I have been here a couple of times before so I enjoy the walk, taking in all the sites down there on the beach.
Gold’s is, as you would expect, huge with every piece of kit you could ever imagine. I spent a little time looking around at what’s out there now for kit and watching people, then I got down to some training.
Shoulders and Arms
I did a similar workout to what I had done with Robby a few days before, but this time I worked my shoulders all at once then moved on to my arms. I did Standing Press, Lat Raise, Bent over Lat Raise for 3 rounds adding weight on each round for 10-12- 8-reps. Yep- all this kit around me and I used a barbell and two dumbbells. For arms I combined Curls with Close Grip Bench Press for 2 rounds, 10 reps each.
Next up, I combined Pushdowns and Cable Curls for 2 rounds. I finished arms with Rope Extensions. I wrapped up the workout with some ab work.
After a great workout there needs to be good food, Robby’s base is built on this. There are some awesome bodybuilders out here and they are not the pro’s I am talking about. The Joe average out here is way above the Joe average at home. I am convinced it’s the working environment and the foods that are available.
So I headed to The Firehouse again, my choice for breakfast number two was egg whites and multigrain pancakes with blueberries. Wow they eat a lot out here and it was huge. I took my time with it, all the while doing the who’s who of bodybuilding heading in the door.
Later Robby and Arden picked me up and we headed to Santa Monica for some more filming. This was a great experience as Robby pointed out where he used to live and train and eat in the old days. The interview was fantastic; we talked about all aspects of our sport for at least 45 minutes putting tons of information in they’re for the viewer. After lunch we parted ways and I came down to the beach to write and read, oooh what a life, work, work, work- ha-ha.
Day 6 – Homeward Bound
The last day of a fantastic week. I headed over to the Marina Café below the gym in the morning and had my last Lou’s Special. Whilst waiting for that to be made I rang home and disrupted the kids watching a movie, glad to see they were missing me. I spoke to Molly and it was all the one word answers “yep, erm, yer, umm”.
“Have you missed your Dad babe?” “Yep.”
“Ok then, put your Mum on.”
After breakfast I read a little of a book that I can highly recommend, a book that Robby gave me called Beyond The Game. It’s the collective sports writing of Gary Smith. I will cover it further in my News and Views next month, a great book. I headed down to the beachfront at lunchtime and walked the beach side path towards The Firehouse for my last lunch. With this being a Sunday the front was packed out with people.
Once at The Firehouse there were many more characters of the bodybuilding kind this time. I ordered Buffalo- again (ok I like it), egg whites and steamed vegetables; along with this I had wholegrain toast and a coffee. From my seat I could people watch all around me. Two guys were sat over to my left and slightly behind me. They were definitely bodybuilders, one was muscular and the other was on the smooth side.
When they stood up they both puffed up to twice their size and walked to the pay desk with their arms stuck out- I am sure they wanted me to look at them so I did what I normally do which was act unimpressed, I looked everywhere but at them. I could see them but they wouldn’t have known. They were doing full body poses just paying the bill. I cannot do with guys like this; they give bodybuilding a bad name. Come on, there is a place for posing and it’s not at a pay desk!
After lunch, I headed back to my hotel and packed for home. Robby and Arden picked me up at 3pm to take me to the airport. Get this, Arden gave me a couple of scarves for Louise that she makes and designs. Many celebs out here own her work, so I was honored. Robby gave me some ‘Built’ baseball caps and had made me a meal for later- Salmon and potatoes, cooked a special way that was delicious. We hugged and said our goodbyes. Waving them off I thought to myself “Wow, Robby Robinson – The Black Prince, one of the greatest bodybuilders to ever live, made my lunch!
Looking over the week, I can say with all certainty that I have had one of the times of my life. If I were never to come back here, I would remember this week with fondness forever. I have learnt a lot- I have been motivated, empowered and inspired beyond words. It is like I have gone full circle.
This very morning before departing for home I sat in the Marina Café and listened to the seagulls. It took me back to my youth growing up in Bridlington, a far cry from LA I know but don’t seagulls sound the same all over the world? The days when I was a kid, I would spend down at the waterfront. On one such day I went searching for a Muscle Mag in the local newsagents. I found one and opened it up to see a page with the heading ‘Welcome to my World’ with a picture of this awesome black bodybuilder- his name was Robby Robinson.
Thank you Robby and Arden, for letting me in to your world.
I have since this article spent time with Robby a couple more times. A few months ago he was a guest at our home and we ate and trained together for over a week. He also spent time and trained with my 14-year-old son Louis. Can you imagine that at 14!! —I would have given all I had at that age for that opportunity.
I would highly recommend anything Robby produces –his book is the best bodybuilding biography I have ever read and his master class is beyond good –its otherworldly x