This is a Long One (But It’s Worth It)

It has been a busy month for me! Between reading your emails, getting my workouts in, having meetings about Triplets (the sequel to Twins), FUBAR (my television spy series with Netflix – by the way, FUBAR stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Repair or Recognition), and other movie and TV projects, doing interviews to promote Superhero Kindergarten (my animated series for kids), and recording conversations about getting rid of pollution while we prepare for my Austrian World Summit in July, a lot has been going on.

Of course, I’m also feeding Lulu at 6 every morning so that she doesn’t scream and wake up the whole neighborhood, after which Whiskey and all the dogs come begging for their food, so I don’t get to pouring my own coffee until 7. I spend lots of time going on bike rides and workouts with my kids or just hanging at home with them, and I really love getting to play with my granddaughter on the weekend.

Here is a video of me getting a pump at Gold's Gym this past week. I love that I am vaccinated so I can be back in the gym - working out at home is just not the same.

Life is all about balance.

Some people hear my motivational speeches where I say things like, “Sleep faster!” or “There are 24 hours in a day!” and get the idea that I never relax and never take a break. But I have learned throughout my life that balance is important, so let’s talk about that this month.

While it is extremely important to work your ass off and get your reps in, sometimes the brain or the body needs a reset. I learned this when I was transitioning from my bodybuilding career into my movie career. I had just finished filming Stay Hungry in the summer of 1975, my first serious movie, and I had cut my weight to 210 pounds at the request of the director, Bob Rafelson. Then George Butler and Charles Gaines came and told me I couldn’t retire from bodybuilding, like I had announced in 1974, because they wanted to follow up their successful book, Pumping Iron, with the documentary, and they told me they couldn’t raise the money unless I was in it, competing. So now I had to try to get back to 240 pounds of quality muscle, not fat, by the Mr. Olympia in October. At the same time, my mail order business was exploding, my real estate investments were growing, and I started to get overwhelmed. It seems strange that everything going right is a problem that has to be solved, but sometimes when everything is hitting at the same time the mind becomes frantic.

I had friends who swore by meditation. So I set up some classes at the transcendental meditation center. It took a lot of training and practice, but gradually I learned to quiet my mind. I meditated 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night for a year, and I learned that through all of that mental training, I was able to conquer one thing at a time and focus on what was in front of me in the moment. With all of those things going on, my mind had resorted to a shotgun approach, thinking about all the different things at once. Training, movies, real estate, mail order - it was too many targets, and the shotgun approach just had my brain all over the place. Meditation taught me to use a rifle approach. I learned to hit the bullseye and completely focus on my training before moving on to reading scripts, and to fully focus on that before moving on to researching real estate, and on and on. One victory at a time.

I really recommend learning to meditate, and I know there are a lot of apps and free YouTube videos out there today to help you get started.

Nowadays I live by the focus principle - that whatever I’m doing is ALL I am doing. My team can tell you that if we are getting ready for a USC Schwarzenegger Institute meeting, I won’t even get involved in discussions about movies or business. What I am doing is all that matters until that work is done, and then I can move on to the next thing.

I still have moments where my mind is overwhelmed, but today I have many different ways of meditating. My time in the gym is meditation. I don’t have a phone or anything. Each exercise is deliberate, and my mind is inside the muscle. My chess games are my favorite way to hit reset and get my mind out of a slump throughout the day. As a matter of fact, I will load up my iPad to play chess with friends from all over the world. When I play with my animals, I am 100% there with them, and when my kids come over, I am only engaged in talking to them and catching up. The key thing is whatever I am doing is all I am doing.

Vince Lombardi once said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” Learning how to find moments to hit reset does not mean you lost or you failed. It means you’re learning how to win. And we all have those moments, so remember that we are all in this together.

A poem I share with people all the time by Samuel Beckett says:

Ever tried.

Ever failed.

No matter.

Try again.

Fail again.

Fail better.

I’m back in kindergarten (and other life updates)

One of the fun things I got to do this month was make a video for NASA, when they landed their first helicopter on Mars. A few months ago I got to have a video call with Chris Cassidy on the International Space Station, and seeing the Earth from his view was a mind-blowing moment, so when NASA asked me to help them celebrate this big milestone, I was in. I knew they needed a “get your ass to Mars” and a “get to the choppa.” I was so proud to share in their great achievement and I can’t wait to see what is next.

I also launched “Arnold’s Stammtisch” for my Austrian World Summit. In Austria and Germany, a stammtisch is a regulars’ table or a locals' table in beer halls and restaurants, where people can talk about the issues that matter to them casually and openly. I thought it would be perfect to have my own virtual stammtisch so we could relax and have fun, while also getting into important issues. I started by talking with my old friend Jim Cameron, and we got into the environment and Austrian fashion, drank some Austrian beer, and shared our visions for the future of our planet. Jim has been a great friend of mine for so many years. People talk about his passion on a movie set, but his passion for the environment is second to none. I learned a lot from him, just like I do every time we talk. Here is the video if you haven’t watched yet:

This month I had a moment that went beyond all of my dreams, and it was a reminder that even when you have a really big vision, you can still be surprised. When I had my big dreams to move to America and succeed in bodybuilding and show business, I didn’t dream that I would become Governor, and I never, ever dreamed that one day a president would paint me. But President Bush called and said he wanted to paint me for his book on immigrants who have had an impact on our country, and I absolutely loved the idea and the painting. It is a good lesson that the bigger and crazier your dreams, the more crazy stuff ends up happening to you.

And speaking of the unexpected, this month I finally get to share the first few episodes of Superhero Kindergarten! Who would have thought that you’d see me in an animated show? So far the response has been huge, with almost 20 million views, and I couldn’t be happier. As I’ve said before, this show is fantastic for the whole family. One kid’s superpower even involves farting, but I’ll let you guys see for yourself. Hereare the first two episodes. Please let me know what you think!

After the release of Superhero Kindergarten, I went on my friend Jimmy Kimmel’s show to talk about it, and I even mentioned the newsletter! But you’re really going to love my cartoon voiceovers for Little Mermaid and Tweety Bird.

I always told you guys my newsletter has exclusive videos, so here is an outtake of me voicing Stewie from Family Guy. My friends couldn’t stop laughing so I know you’ll love it.

And finally, I got to read the script for Triplets. Breaking news: I absolutely love it! I am so excited about this project, and it sounds like Eddie Murphy and Danny Devito are as fired up as I am, so after we go through some little notes, I hope we can get going. This has been a long time coming, and I’m so pumped to get started. What was your favorite scene from Twins?

LAST MINUTE BREAKING NEWS: I just got the phone call that Netflix has greenlit FUBAR, so I can’t wait to get to work with Nick Santora, the creator of the show, and Monica Barbaro, who will play my daughter. The whole team at Skydance has been incredible, and the father/daughter spy dynamic is going to be such a wild ride for all of you.

The art of improvisation

Early this month, a journalist for the New York Times, Shawn Hubler, interviewed me to talk about what I’ve been up to during the pandemic, and how I have become the “elderly statesman” of California. I’ve shared interviews before, but something that I thought you would all enjoy is seeing how an interview comes together because many people aren’t familiar with how the media works.

First, Shawn reached out to my team and basically said, “Schnitzel has been doing all this crazy stuff this year, giving a million dollars for PPE, doing PSAs with his animals, spending more than 2 million on opening polling stations, and I’d love to talk to him about why he is doing this and how he feels about what’s going on in the world.”

I wasn’t sure about doing a story until they told me they wanted a portrait of me with Whiskey and Lulu, and then I was in. So my team told Shawn I would give her an hour, which for me is a long interview.

Normally, when I was Governor, before an interview I was intense about reading everything I could so I was fully prepared, and then I would ask my team to make up crazy questions and test me. Reps, reps, reps! But this time, I just improvised and when Shawn came over, after an hour we were just warming up, so we talked for two hours, and by then we were getting into the fun stuff, so we ended up going for three. This is why I tell people improvisation is the art of fieldwork. I never give interviews that long, but Shawn was improvising and asking different questions than she planned so I figured as long as we had a good conversation it wasn’t worth stopping -- until my team told me I had to get ready for Jimmy Kimmel’s late night show. We floated from family to the animals to global and state politics, and Shawn really had fantastic questions even though we weren’t talking about what we planned. I’m really happy with how it came out and I hope you all appreciate the behind-the-scenes. Read the story here. 

And they published more of my thoughts in their California Today edition here.

A lesson from an unrelatable moment

I also had a funny conversation with my team this week that they said was inspirational, so I’m sharing it with you. For background: I’m never going to pretend to you that my life is relatable because I hate when rich people do that.

My dream was always to move to this country and become a millionaire and I owe this country everything because I was able to accomplish that. Once I hit a certain level of stardom, I started to fly everywhere on private planes. I couldn’t walk around the airport or pick up my bag without being bombarded by people taking photos of me when I was exhausted. Imagine getting off a 12 hour flight and having hundreds of people taking photos of you and crowding you for autographs. I love my fans, but it was too much. Then at some point when I was Governor, I flew commercial to an environmental event, and I realized my routine didn’t make sense anymore because the airlines could get me to the plane without all of the chaos, through a private terminal or with an escort. Ever since then I’ve flown commercial for my international trips, because it’s more environmentally friendly and I actually love it.

Now, I should say that I sit in first class. I’m a big guy and the one time I sat in coach for a connecting flight in Europe it became chaos with all of the passengers basically creating a photo line down the aisle. But this time I got on a plane for a flight to Australia, and didn’t see first class anywhere. I said, “this couldn’t be” and looked around, until a flight attendant told me that yes, this small seat was mine. I realized this was going to be a painful flight for 15 hours bumping elbows with the lady next to me, and I started to get upset.

When I land somewhere, the action starts immediately, I don’t schedule time to sleep off jet lag, so getting sleep on the plane is important. It wasn’t looking good and I felt my mood going south. But that’s when it’s time for Arnold to have a talk with Arnold. I am not shy about having talks inside my mind, and I use them to keep myself in line. I can be meaner to myself than anybody, so I also have to remind myself to take it easy sometimes. I told myself, “Arnold, you can be a spoiled little brat right now or you can make the most of it, but either way, you’re sitting in this seat for 15 hours. So you might as well find a way to enjoy it.” I took a deep breath, sat down, smiled, and said to the lady next to me, “Hi, I’m Arnold, it’s so great to meet you.”

We ended up having the greatest conversation! It turns out she taught business classes at a major college and was really into horses. By the time we landed, I had learned more about horses and business and she had learned about all the Arnold Sports Festivals we have around the world. I told her to stay in touch, and to this day, she writes me the most interesting letters about what’s cutting edge in business and horses, and she’s attended a few of our festivals and given me helpful notes. If I was grumpy, I never would have learned anything new or developed that friendship. So thank you, Melanie, for reminding me, and now all of my readers, about the power of self-talk to reset your mindset.

You might not find yourself in a situation where your airplane seat is smaller than you planned, but all of us have situations where things don’t go our way. In those moments, remind yourself to do the opposite of what the spoiled brat inside of you wants to do. Just try it one time. If someone cuts in line at the airport, you can think, “I want to tear this guy’s fucking head off,” but then do the opposite. Say, “How are you doing today? That suitcase is fantastic.”

You know how many people I know who hold on to these little slights and vendettas for days or weeks? What a waste of energy. It ruins your whole mood. Think about what happens every time you let your anger win. Do you ever end up happy? No! Not even if you get your revenge. So the next time you are ready to rip someone’s head off, try the opposite, and tell me how it goes.

Now, let’s get into some of your questions…

How did you deal with the Fear Of Missing Out throughout your life?

I only learned recently about this idea of FOMO. I think I have three advantages that helped me avoid this throughout my life. One is that whenever I see something in my vision I go all out. That means I don’t ever have to worry whether I did enough or whether there was something I missed. I always know I left no stone unturned. The second advantage is there are other things I don’t worry so much about, because they aren’t part of my vision. Becoming a great golfer is not in my vision, so I bumble around the course and have a great time and don’t worry about anything but having fun. My third advantage is that I just don’t worry that much about what other people are doing, because I have enough to worry about with my own life. I have movies, I have TV, I have Arnold Sports Festivals, I have investments, and I have all the time I want to spend with my kids and my family. I’m proud to run After-School All-Stars, my institute at USC, and my Austrian World Summit for environmental work, so with all the things I have going on, I don’t waste any energy worrying about what other people are doing.

Now looking back, living my life without worrying about everyone else, I think “what did I miss out on?” I was the Governor of the 5th largest economy in the world, I raised an amazing family, I was the greatest bodybuilder of all time, I was a movie star - so what would I ever complain about? If I spent my time worrying about what other people were doing, that would have been less time to achieve all of my dreams. Protect your time. Don’t waste it chasing other people’s dreams.

What's your favorite on-set story?

Here’s a behind-the-scenes story I’ll always remember about Danny Devito. He’s a brutal prankster, and he’s as funny in real life as he is on the screen. He’d always make me the most delicious pasta at lunch and we’d eat and schmooze and have a cigar before we went back to work. One day, he packed my cigar with marijuana without telling me. I’m a fanatic about memorizing my lines so I never touch the script once I arrive on a set, but when we got back after lunch, Danny said his line and I just stood there. “Duh.” Before lunch, we had filmed this exact scene for the master shot, and we both had nailed our lines. Now, after lunch when we came back to cover our closeups, in front of hundreds of people, I was speechless. Ivan Reitman reminded me of my line and asked the script supervisor to show me the script, and it was like I was seeing something for the first time. My brain had completely forgotten the scene I had no trouble with before lunch. Danny was laughing up a storm, and Ivan flipped the cameras to film Danny’s close-up so I could read my lines off the page and we wouldn’t waste any time. As we went on, it all slowly came back to me and I could join in the laughter and finish my scenes. I can’t complain because once on a movie I worked with the effects guys to put a small explosive in someone’s cigar. We were lucky this was on Ivan’s movie because if this ever happened on a Jim Cameron film, we would have been in real trouble.

What do you think about death, how do you overcome it, and how would you like us to feel when you are gone?

Well, unfortunately, death is the one thing we can’t overcome. And I have to say, that pisses me off. I have such a great time here that I hate the idea of death. I don’t like to think about it, I don’t even like to say the word. I actually talked about this on Howard Stern.

My whole life I’ve worried about one thing and one thing only: that one day I am going to wake up and this whole fucking thing was a dream. My mother will be shaking my arm and waking me up and saying, “Arnold, get up and go to the factory."

If I am that worried that my whole life is a dream, imagine how I feel about the whole thing ending. I know some people say you should consider your own mortality in order to live every day like it’s your last day. I am fortunate that I don’t need that - every day is filled with joy and opportunities to do what my dad said and be useful. And I know other people aren’t worried about death because they are looking forward to heaven or some other afterlife. I’m not quite there yet. My life is heaven.

Despite my anger, I don’t want you to feel pissed off on my behalf or even sad when that day comes. I want you to be inspired. I want all of you to pick up wherever I leave off, because God knows, the work won’t be finished. Whether it’s spreading positivity and motivation, leading my fitness crusade, working to terminate gerrymandering and pollution, bringing sanity to our polarized politics, or just loving your family and enjoying every moment, keep it going for me. Be useful.

Here are a few of my favorites from last month:

  • Pump of the month: Deadlift - because nothing is better than the basics.
  • Song of the month: Johnny Cash - Run On
  • Movie of the month: Staircase (Netflix) - I started this over the weekend and I’ve watched 8 episodes in 3 days. It’s fantastic. You’ll know why I got into this soon - I am a proud dad.
  • Book of the month: The Premonition, by Michael Lewis. For some of you, it might be a little early to read a story about the pandemic. But I was so angry because so many people were not ready for a pandemic even after Wuhan was locking down and welding people’s doors closed, and that’s inexcusable to me. We were selling all of our masks and ventilators to China so that we wouldn’t be ready when it hit us! How stupid can you be? This book is a great lesson in preparedness and I enjoyed reading about some of the people who really believe in being ready. I hope we listen to them next time.
  • Joke of the month: Two nuns were riding their bikes down a beautiful cobblestone road. The first nun looked at the other nun and said, “I’ve never come this way before.” The second nun said, “I think it’s the cobblestones.”
  • Archive Shot of the month: This is a shot from when Franco and I visited prisons around California to teach the inmates about physical fitness and bodybuilding. We were at Chino Prison here.

I look forward to hearing from all of you. And I have a favor to ask: this year at our Austrian World Summit, I want to include as many of you as possible. We are using a smaller venue to be safe, so I want everyone to be part of it virtually. Besides streaming online, we are going to have a huge LED screen behind me and the other speakers with a virtual audience. If you can submit a 10 second video of you clapping to be part of the summit, I would love it. You can upload here.

Keep pumping,