FLEX time for Cena

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October 10, 2006

Just in time for the nationwide premiere of The Marine on Friday, the WWE Champion's FLEX magazine feature cover story is on newsstands now. Between defending the WWE Championship on RAW every Monday night and promoting his upcoming action film, John Cena shot the FLEX magazine cover in August, and WWE.com was there with The Champ.

"We are here today at Gold's Gym for a FLEX magazine cover shoot, which believe it or not, is a teen/childhood dream of mine," Cena said. "It's an honor and privilege.

"FLEX magazine is very cool because they stay up to date with what's going on with bodybuilding; they stay up to date with what's going on with nutrition. If you are into health, into fitness, into training the body to work hard, into the sport of bodybuilding, into the history of bodybuilding, FLEX is the magazine."

A group of about 20 people followed John Cena around Gold's Gym in Manhattan's Times Square, including a WWE.com crew, FLEX magazine reporter Allan Donnelly and freelance photographer Ian Spanier. New York's FOX News, Entertainment Tonight and USA Weekend magazine were at the gym to talk to Cena, too. As Cena took the small crowd through his weightlifting workout, Spanier and WWE.com documented the morning with photographs and video. From dead lifts, to lateral pull downs, to pushups, to pull-ups, Cena insisted he was doing his actual workout with real weight, not just posing for the cameras.

"I've been on photo shoots sometimes and they say to do this, this and this, and you have to hold poses and do this and this. [FLEX] just let me work out, and they shot it, which was very cool," Cena said. "They got a few different shots. I hadn't done dead lifts in a while, about 10 years. But other than the dead lifts, that was my regular work out. What you see is what you get. That's the weight I use. Those are the reps I do."

Throughout his workout, Cena took breaks to talk about weightlifting; his RAW rival, Edge; and The Marine. Amid the noisy clanking of weights from fellow gym-goers, Cena offered bits of advice.

"Am I a super healthy person? Hell no. I have McDonald's five times a week maybe. I know when to say when -- everything in moderation. It's like when somebody gets a gym membership for the new year, and they go like hell for three months and quit for six months, it isn't going to do you any good. Get in here everyday and do what you got to do."

After a few more reps, and a few sips of ABB Speed Stack energy drink, Cena quipped, "Not only would you never see Edge working out like this, you never see Edge working out."

Cena's workout routine lasted more than an hour, with short pauses for tape changes for the camera crew. Before shooting the FLEX magazine cover in a more secluded area of Gold's Gym, Cena sat down with WWE.com for an exclusive interview. He said being on the cover of FLEX magazine is an honor for him because he's a self-proclaimed "bodybuilding fan at heart." He's an avid FLEX reader, and has been working out since age 13.

"The kids in high school were picking on me. I used to have to walk from junior high to high school everyday to catch the bus. That's when I was wearing the MC Hammer pants. Yeah, turquoise polka dots; I even had the mustard stripes with the baggy pants. And like the wingtip shoes that were all shiny… it was ridiculous. And I was very much made fun of. And I understand why. I would have made fun of that, too. It was that old kick sand in your face-type of story. I said, ‘Forget this, I'm not going to take this anymore.' My dad bought me my first weight set when I was 13 and I haven't missed a day since.

"For somebody to say we want you to shoot the cover of FLEX, it feels good. Everyday you get in the gym and bust your ass, it's not to make the cover of FLEX, but when the people from FLEX say, ‘Hey man, we want you to do the cover,' that's a real good reward for always having to go to the gym."

Cena was a bodybuilder during the end of his enrollment as a high-schooler at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., and while studying at Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., where he earned a bachelor of science in exercise physiology in 1999. Throughout his many years of weightlifting, Cena has modified his routine.

"I'm getting old. My workout has changed. I don't go as heavy, I don't go as hard. I try to make it through the day, that's kind of my quote," he said. "A lot times you're tired, a lot times you don't want to work out and my quote is just to ‘get it done and make it through the day.' Whereas before, it was go hard or go home, get big or get out. I'm past that. I can't do that."

At the recent FLEX magazine photoshoot, a shirtless Cena wore camouflage shorts in honor of his upcoming feature film, The Marine. The movie opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.

"This is a little bit of myself and a little bit of movie madness. We're doing the promotion for The Marine. To be honest with you, I have a lot of respect for the armed services and what they stand for, their codes of discipline, regimen. And that pretty much fits the routine of the gym. You have to have discipline; you have to have a regimen. You have to follow the rules to an extent, but at the same time, you go in there ready to kick ass. So [the camouflage shorts] just fit, rather than the usual mesh shorts, tank top, the training gear that everybody wears. I figured I'd change it up a bit. I appreciate the Pumps; I got to keep the Reebok Pumps," he said, pointing to his sneakers. "I had to get a little of my own style in there."

Cena was pleased to be doing his FLEX magazine photoshoot at a Gold's Gym, a WWE corporate partner.

"Gold's Gym is as consistent as McDonald's. You go to McDonald's, you know what's on the menu, you know exactly what you're going to get. Gold's Gym, when you see that logo, you walk in and you know you're getting a great gym. You know the equipment is state of the art, you know you're going to have options to choose from, whether it be cardio, free weights or machines. You know what you're going to get."

As for working out while on the road with WWE, Cena says gyms aren't always as consistent or as nice as a Gold's Gym.

"It's the luck of the draw. You get to the town. You dial information. You get a list of local gyms and fitness centers and you take what they give you. Sometimes it's good, other times it's just getting by."

While shooting the cover shot for FLEX, Cena stood in front of a black backdrop which really emphasized his powerful, muscular stance. Spanier uploaded the photos to his laptop after each handful of shots, and placed the photos on a mockup FLEX cover to see how the photos would look. From Cena crossing his arms, to giving his signature salute, to flexing, the shots were so great, it was hard for Spanier to pick a favorite. It was the photographer's first time shooting a WWE Superstar, and he was so pleased with the results, he said he'd love to photograph another again.

"He's great. He's really easy to work with. He's fully accommodating. I try to move fast. I try to keep those guys on their toes, not let it get to a point where they get bored," Spanier told WWE.com.

Cena was just as happy with how well his FLEX magazine cover debut photoshoot went. He thought the photos came out "fantastic" and his favorite shot was of the dead lifts, because he hadn't done them in a while.

"Ian, the photographer, is a great guy. He made me look good. He was like, ‘Go through your work out and I'll shoot it.' It was the easiest photoshoot I've ever done," Cena said. "If you caught me five or six years back, I'd be in the middle of a 10-week diet, be looking the best I could. [Today] I just showed up. These guys are pros. Not only did they get me to train like hell, but the pictures look phenomenal. I'm so satisfied, being able to be on the cover of FLEX magazine."

Cena also made a point to send a message to the WWE fans who check out his Five Questions segment on WWE.com.

"Thank you. Thank you very much for allowing me to vent for 15 minutes every week  on the segment that everyone loves to hate to love, Five Questions with John Cena. The fact that I get to do that every week is a real pleasure, so thank you to everyone watching and clicking on to WWE.com."

He also wanted to tell the WWE fans that they are in for a real treat when they go to the theater to see The Marine.

"The WWE fans are going to be surprised. They are going to be very surprised. Everybody saw See No Evil and they were completely taken off-guard by how well it was done. This is going to be that same thing. It gives a new light to what the WWE as a whole is capable of. It's going to be fantastic.

"The movie is a little bit of everything. It's an action film. There are many, many explosions. … I'm running a parallel course with these bad guys who pulled a diamond heist that's gone horribly wrong, and we bump into each other at a gas station. And they need a hostage. They take my wife. I spend the rest of the movie making their lives miserable, dodging explosion after explosion, after bullets, after explosion. It's really fun though. It's a good action ride. It gives a lot of action, a little bit of romance, a little bit of comedy, some moments you aren't expecting. It's a fun ride."

But Cena wanted to make it clear that filming a movie is much different, and challenging in other ways, than a live, WWE event.

"WWE is cameras on live, no second takes. …Movies, it was a different experience. My hat goes off to all the actors. When you sit down in a movie theater you believe the role they play because they have to do it over and over again. At WWE you're shot out of a cannon, you go and you make it happen."

Cena took four months of acting classes before filming The Marine on location in Australia. He says he hopes this isn't the only movie he'll star in, and he's not opposed to possibly acting in a genre other than action.

"I'm one that loves to take the bull by the horns. If something challenging comes along and it's something I feel like I could pull off, I'm going to try."

Finally, Cena offered a bit of motivation to the WWE fans reading WWE.com, watching him in the WWE ring or in The Marine, or reading about him in FLEX magazine:

"This is for Johnny Couch Potato sitting at home saying ‘How can I get in shape, I don't know a damn thing about the gym?' Step one: Go to the gym. Step two: Continue to go to the gym. If you do my work out exactly, it may not work for you. Everybody's different. It's like making chicken soup. Some people add more salt, some people add more meat. Some people add more broth. Find what works for you. If you like to run, then damn it, run. Run until your shoes get sore. Be Forrest Gump. Do it! Maybe you like to lift weights. … You got to get in there first of all. Get off your ass. Get in the gym!"

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