The Legend of Wellness ? Frank Zane

By: Philippe Matthews

When you mention the name Frank Zane to a fitness or bodybuilding athlete, chances are their eyes will widen in worship over the man who made bodybuilding symmetry the standard of a quality physique.  Frank Zane is a native to Pennsylvania and a three-time Mr. Olympia winner from 1977-1979.  He is truly one the most notable bodybuilders in the history of the sport, defeating Arnold Schwarzenneger in the 1968 Mr. Universe Competition in Miami, Florida, and won Mr. Universe two more times in London, England in 1970 and 1972.  In 1968, Frank also won the Mr. America in New York City, and Mr. World 1969 in Brugge, Belgium.  In his 22-year competitive career, Frank won over 150 awards and was inducted into the Joe Weider Bodybuilding Hall of Fame in 1994.

Frank Zane began bodybuilding at age 14, out of a need to improve his physical well-being and protect himself and his younger brother, Adam.  As a straight ?A? student, Frank recalls, ?My Brother and I were the only Protestant kids in a totally Catholic town.  We were persecuted!  My brother was a precocious kid, a very good athlete and he would get into a lot of fights; so, I?d have to break them up.  I wanted to feel more secure so, I tried different things like boxing, wrestling and all of that stuff.  Then I discovered bodybuilding.?  Frank trained briefly at a local YMCA. then bought a weight lifting set for home and he says, ?In two weeks, muscles were coming out all over!  That really encouraged me, so I was very hungry for it.  I pursued it until I was about 18, then I went into my first competition.? Frank graduated first in his high school class of 1960 in Edwardsville, Pennsylvania, winning a college scholarship.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from California State University-Los Angeles in 1977.  Frank also received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Wilkes University, Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania in 1964, and was awarded a Master of Arts Degree in Experimental Psychology from California State University – San Bernardino, California in 1990.

Frank taught Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Natural Sciences, Physical Education, and Psychology in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, and Los Angeles, California. from 1964 through 1977.  Frank loved teaching because he wanted a job that would allow him to train and work at the same time.  ?Teaching seemed to fit the bill,? says Frank.  ?It wasn?t a lot of money, but I had he summers off.?  In 1969, Frank moved to California and earned a degree in psychology, while landing another teaching job while training.  Shortly thereafter, Frank moved and taught in Florida where he met his wife, Christine, and soon won the Mr. Universe and Mr. America.

Zane?s Determination = Zane?s Success

Frank?s father, Adam Zane was an Electrician in the coalmines of Philadelphia, and also had a radio and television repair business. Frank?s mother, a housewife and seamstress, died recently at age 81, while Frank?s father died when he was only 57.  ?He was quite unhealthy because he smoked and drank,? Frank lamented.  Frank says his father?s health became a reverse motivation for him ? causing him to make health and being in shape a number one priority in his life.  But, Frank never got support from his family, friends, or peers as a youngster.  He recalls, ?When I was growing up, nobody encouraged me to do this.  Everybody criticized me.  There are only a handful of people who didn?t.  This was the fifties and my coaches in school use to say, ?You?re going to get muscle bound and slow.  But, I just got bigger and stronger.  I was taking typing in my senior year and this skinny guy, who was my Typing Teacher, said to me, ?Zane, you?re never going to learn how to type, forget it.  Your fingers are muscle bound.?  It was like that with everything.  Everybody telling me you can?t do it and I was like, ?Well, I?m going to show you and I did.  At the end of the year, I was the best typist in the class.  I was a little slow getting started, but after a while I was far better than anybody in the class.  It’s always been like that.  It would take me a while, and then I would surpass everybody.?

There is an old saying that says, ?It?s not the plan that failed, it?s failure to plan?, and Frank became a master at preparation and planning in all aspects of his life, especially bodybuilding.  He explains why he was so successful in bodybuilding. ?Because it took me a long time.  I took my time, built my body and I realized I have a good structure for bodybuilding; I?m just not big.  I have a small bone structure, but I have wide shoulders and narrow hips.  I realized I?m not going to be the biggest guy ever so, why focus on that?  I?m going to beat these people on shape and proportion.  So, I prepared.  I worked on my posing and I practiced standing on stage.  I would go out, get a tan and stand in the sun, while visualizing as if I was onstage.  So, by the time the contest came around, I was well-seasoned.?

Being one of the most famous physiques in fitness has allowed Frank to appear on ESPN, ABC, CBS, and NBC television as Expert Commentator for bodybuilding competitions since 1978. Frank has also appeared on TV commercials and infomercials for Soloflex  and  Suzanne Sommers? Torso Track.  He has guest starred in the TV Series, ?Hart to Hart?; and hosted ?Infinite Power Workout”, for a total of 95 episodes, that aired in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York.    At age 58, Frank is still in the best shape of his life because of his discipline and commitment toward excellence.  ?I still have physical goals but, I got the competition thing out of my system.? Frank says.

Zane?s Reframe

Although Frank had a successful bodybuilding career, life gave Frank some crucial messages before he realized it was time to retire from bodybuilding.  Close to the end of his career Frank says, ?There seemed like there was something in me where I would always screw up in little ways. For example, in 1980, I had a bad accident right before the Olympia Contest.  It was a near death experience, I almost bled to death, but I came back eight weeks before the Mr. Olympia, and I was in phenomenal shape, ready and poised to be in the best shape of my life, but after almost bleeding to death and being in the hospital for a week and a half, I lost almost fifteen pounds!  So, I went into the contest anyway and I was really muscular, but I wasn?t near my best.? In his last contest before retiring, Frank had yet another accident.  He recalls, ?It was as if I was self-destructing.  I had a bicycle accident and tore my rotator cuff.  I couldn?t lift my arm for a month!  So, I got all of these messages, and it was like the warrior going to battle, can?t rest after the victory, and must keep going back until he gets knocked of the horse.  That?s the way I went out.?

After his retirement, Frank began sharing his years of experience through his bodybuilding, fitness, nutrition, and motivation seminars around the world.  He?s instructed weight training to over 3000 clients at the Zane Haven Bodybuilding Learning Center, in Palm Springs, California, and currently teaches the Zane Experience from his private gym and operates a fitness mail order business in La Mesa, California.  But, Frank feels his current success is measured by the belief system that he developed when nobody believed in him ? including his father.  Frank says, ?Nobody every believed in me and that was my motivation.  My father was totally against it [bodybuilding].  But, once I started getting into the newspapers and TV, he became proud of me and bragged about me.  But, he never really complimented me, never said anything good to me ? never talked to me at all.  He was missing — he wasn?t there.  I think I was trying to win his approval, but in the end, I think he was proud of me for what I accomplished.  That?s been the story of my life.  People saying I can?t do it, and I do it!?

Having a degree in psychology truly helped Frank to respond to negative dialogue differently.  ?You basically have two choices; when you are put down or invalidated ? you can identify with the aggressor and go along with it.  Saying, ?Yeah, you?re right, I?m a loser.?  Or, you can do something called reaction formation–which is what I always did.  I would say, ?You?re wrong!  You may not know it; but you?re going to find out that you?re wrong because I?m going to prove you?re wrong.  Sure, I was discouraged at first, but I was always able to turn it around.  What I learned is there is motivation in everything.  There?s always energy tied up in everything that happens whether it seems aversive or positive.  You have to use that energy in a positive way to help you grow.  It?s as simple as that ? you have to find motivation in everything.?

Frank advice to people wanting to overcome negative thoughts, words and actions, is to reframe your outlook.  ?You take the incident and you put in a positive perspective.  For instance, take bodybuilding; you lose a contest and one guy wins and everybody else loses.  Most of them think they should have won.  So, what do they do?  They complain and say it was fixed; it was political, and so on.  They don?t take responsibility for it.  They?re truly losers, and if they keep that attitude, they?ll always be losers.  You can say, ?I didn?t win, why?? which is what I did.  I?d ask the judges and get their opinion.?

Zane Fitness & Philosophy

Frank, along with his wife Christine, currently do private training for clients wanting to improve their physique and increase their potential.  Frank says, ?People come to town, they stay at a nearby hotel and they come over for 3, three-hour sessions.  It?s just them and me.  I workout with them and we go over everything and I coach them one-on-one.  When they leave, they know exactly what to do.  They can come back at anytime for follow-ups and telephone consultation or, email me and send me photos.?  Frank enjoys his work.  ?It?s good for me, because I?m doing something I like and I?m good at.  I have a great gym.?

Frank trains his clients in what he calls a Three-Way Split.  ?The first day is a three-hour session.  Half of which is an orientation to the program– how to use the workouts and how to make progressions with it.  Then, train biceps, back, forearms and abs ? the pulling muscles.  The next day, we go over the nutrition program, revamp their eating and then train legs ? thighs, calves and abs again.  On the third day, we?ll go over stress management, energy conservation, developing a positive attitude and train chest, shoulders and triceps.?

The mind, body connection is extremely important to overall health and wellness and Frank is a proponent of meditation and using mental power.  He?s developed a series of audiotapes for energy and relaxation along with the Frank Zane Mind Body Machine, the Frank Zane Leg Blaster and many other peak-performance equipment for men and women wanting, to improve their body image inside and out.  For more information on Frank Zane and the Zane Experience, log onto: