I’ve been an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan since the 90s, so when I heard a Netflix documentary coming out, I had to ensure I watched it as quickly as possible. And now that I did, I can’t help but feel that people misunderstand what ‘Arnold’ is about. As inspiring as his life was, old Arnie isn’t a happy person, and the takeaway isn’t that you should work hard to get what you want. It’s to look after the people who mean the most to you.
Now, I won’t be too sentimental here; T3 isn’t the right platform to talk about human connections and aspirations. We write about the best streaming services and have covered many Schwarzy-related topics, including Arnie's top two techniques for building muscle, the Schwarzenegger Golden Era chest and back workout, why he used the suicide grip for bench press and a pecs workout that helped him broaden his enormous chest.
On a more personal level, my fascination with Arnie goes back three decades. We had a copy of his bodybuilding bible at home when I was younger, and although no one ended up being a gym rat in the family, I remember reading the tome with my brothers, looking at pics of Arnie doing triceps dips between two chairs, thinking, ‘I can do this!’
Go hard or go home
Fast forward to about a month ago when I learned about the new docuseries coming to Netflix. And not just that, but it will cover his bodybuilding legacy in a separate episode! What I liked about the first episode of ‘Arnold’ is that it didn’t try to be a Pumping Iron Lite (if you haven’t watched that movie, do it now). Instead, it helped people understand why he became who he is—a hard-working, do-what-you-can-to-get-what-you-want kind of person.
However, I feel people stopped watching the series at this point. “Arnie, you inspired me to go to the gym three times a week now,” says a random Twitter user, tagging the series to make sure everyone on the internet knows about his Herculean effort of visiting a commercial gym a handful of times before they inevitably give up. “Arnie is the BEST,” says another one on Facebook.
Don’t get me wrong; I love how diehard Arnie is. As a fellow workaholic, I’ll give 120% in every task, whether trying eFoiling for the first time or running a 100-mile marathon in Mongolia. It’s a mindset of not wanting to disappoint yourself. I don’t care about anyone else’s opinion. I want me to be proud of myself. And I’m happy to work for it.
That said, this isn't what 'Arnold' is about. As successful as the man was and still is, he's alone in his huge Austrian mansion, feeding donkeys and petting dogs. It's a seemingly quiet, tranquil life. He's still active, of course, but he isn't without regrets. He misses his family and his friends. He wishes Franco Columbo was still around and his kids didn't just come and visit occasionally.
He talks about Joseph Baena – very rightly so – and says despite everything that happened, he wouldn't want his son not to exist. It's not his fault he had an affair with long-lasting consequences. But he wishes he didn't screw up so majorly so he could have a family meal with people, not surrounded by cattle and pets.
Another important takeaway, at least in my opinion, is to accept your age and that you won't look like a 20-year-old for the rest of your life. I found it hilarious when he spoke about the wrinkle under his pecs and that he wears a t-short because he hasn't got a six-pack. He's 75! Of course, he hasn't got a six-pack. But it's not easy to accept for someone whose image of his younger self is plastered around the world still.
After watching ‘Arnold’, my first thought wasn’t to hit the gym, but to call my mum. It wasn’t to dust off my adjustable dumbbells and start doing pecs flys but to organise a meetup with people I know and care about. Sure, I do exercise often, so I don’t need the extra encouragement, but still, what is important is not to alienate people who care about you.
I encourage you to watch ‘Arnold’ again. Sure, if you need inspiration to start moving around a bit more, feel inspired by Schwarzenegger’s work ethic. (You can also check out T3’s ever-expanding workout library.) But let that not be the only takeaway from his life. Let his legacy also be that it’s equally as essential to work on your personal relationships as it is to work on your professional success. Look after yourself so you can look after others. Easy as that.