When the movie Pumping Iron begins, the stage full of extraordinarily well developed men looks the same in many ways. The sculpted figures, the amazing bulges and the stylistic way they strike a pose gives the impression that there is nothing there behind those muscles. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The tremendous discipline that it took for those bodybuilders to reach the top bodybuilding competition that was the setting for Pumping Iron comes from an inner drive and a quest for success that meant something different to each man. For Pumping Iron star, Serve Nubret, that drive for greatness was nothing short of a spiritual mission.
For Serge Nubret, his passion for bodybuilding that was on display in Pumping Iron was more than just a sport or even a way to making a living. Later in life when Serge wrote his book entitled, I am…Me and God, he referred to bodybuilding as his “reason for being”. That sense of having a spiritual calling to become a champion in the sport of bodybuilding was a prime motivation to driving Serge Nubret to reach the heights of the sport that he reached which is documented in the breakthrough documentary, Pumping Iron.
Another fascinating aspect of the bodybuilding profession that jumps out when you watch Pumping Iron is that it is truly an international and multicultural competition. Of the many nationalities that the top professionals in bodybuilding represented, Serge Nubret did a good job of being the ambassador to bodybuilding from his home country of France.
Serge Nubret enjoyed the quite life of small town living as he passed his childhood and youth in the village of Anse-Bertrand near Guadeloupe. But it was in his young adulthood that his phenomenal athletic ability began to be known to young Serge. From the very beginning, Nubret saw his gift for bodybuilding as a calling to a spiritual walk that would settle for nothing less than total commitment and total success.
Only three months after Serge Nubret entered bodybuilding, he won his first championship at the Mr. Guadeloupe bodybuilding contest. The very next year he found himself at his first international bodybuilding competition in Montreal where he was named “The Most Muscular Man in the World”.
But as tremendous of that accomplishment was, it was only the beginning for the young bodybuilder. As soon as Nubret returned to Paris, he was recruited by the film industry to star in the movie, The Titans. This would begin a love affair that the international movie industry had with the charismatic bodybuilder that would lead him not only to become a part of Pumping Iron but over 25 other films as well.
Unfortunately, we do not see much of Serge Nubret in the finished film, Pumping Iron. His participation in the Mr. Universe contest that is the heart of Pumping Iron was quite significant. He actually finished second to Arnold Schwarzenegger in the tall man competition, defeating Lou Ferrigno who finished third. But because Nubret was already an established commodity in the film industry, contract restrictions kept the editors of Pumping Iron to use very much of the footage where he was in the spotlight.
Nonetheless, the influence that Serge Nubret had on the film, Pumping Iron and on the bodybuilding sport has been significant. While all successful athletes succeed by listening to an inner drive to greatness, Serge Nubret went on to use his success to point the credit back to God and to his sense of calling. In that way Serge Nubret is an inspiration to athletes in bodybuilding and to all of us as well to follow our own God given calling to greatness.