athlete profile: big ben pakulski
M&F: How active were you growing up?
BP: Basically I was always active, playing every sport. I played a lot of hockey growing up in Canada and I played a lot of football and baseball. Mainly, my summers were committed to baseball and my winters to hockey. Aside from that, I went to school. Nothing really stands out in my head. I wasn’t particularly into video games, just school and athletics. Whenever I had an opportunity, I was outside playing. I was always on the go.
M&F: When did you begin to lift more seriously?
BP: I was 17 when I joined a local hardcore gym, and there were these two brothers who were about a year older than me at the time, so I guess they would have been 17 and 18. They were just huge relative to everyone else in the gym, and I was like, “Man, these guys are only a year older than me, and they are so big and strong and train so hard.” They were the kind of people I wanted to emulate; to me they looked like superheroes.
M&F: Did you ever consider a career in other sports?
BP: I probably would have ended up playing baseball. I had scholarships to play baseball at D-1 colleges, but I ended up getting way into bodybuilding and too big to play baseball.
M&F: How does it feel to be representing the hulk in this issue?
BP: Man, it’s crazy. Just to be viewed in that light, it’s awesome. Growing up, I was never an overly muscular kid. I guess this is me reaping the rewards of meticulous attention to detail and hard work.
M&F: If you could be one superhero, who would it be?
BP: The Hulk, for sure. As a bodybuilder, to be The Incredible Hulk would be kind of crazy. Just the fact that he’s so mild-mannered during the day is very similar to myself. When I get into the gym, I literally flip the switch, and that’s always something I have strived to do: to be in complete control of myself outside the gym yet be able to go to the gym and turn it on. Essentially being a complete animal and a complete machine is my goal.
M&F: Do you have any advice for guys trying to get into bodybuilding?
BP: Seek out the best people you can find. The most intelligent approach to training does exist. There is a right and a wrong, and somebody out there has the answers that you need. You just have to be asking the right questions.