Muscular Development|January 2022
Kai Greene

The Gym Was My Salvation

For a long time, I’ve preached to anyone who will listen that bodybuilding saved my life. And now that I’ve had the opportunity to grow a little more and see a little deeper, I’m able to understand with a lot more clarity what I was trying to understand and share.

My life changed in 1991 when, at age 16, I walked into the Fifth Avenue Gym in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn, which was a sometimes smelly, dark basement gym with no natural light. It was as basic as you can get. But I had found a home. I took to the gritty feel of the battered weights, straight away. Almost immediately, I had a structure and purpose to my life; the gym was somewhere I had to be. Very soon, I was working the front desk and undertaking cleaning duties. I was still living in a group home but never really felt safe there, and so on many nights I would sleep in the gym. The gym really was my home and its inhabitants became my family. The big name at the Fifth Avenue Gym at that time was Bernard Sealy, who had finished 14th at the 1990 Mr. Olympia. I looked upon him as some sort of a god. In the magazines, I was impressed with eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney, for his great size and tiny waist, and by Russ Testo for his inventive and unique posing displays.

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