Jon talks about the construction of his latest DVD project
When you let the cameras in behind closed doors, you really open yourself up to scrutiny. As an author, I can tell you that writing a book is so much easier; you have plenty of time to edit and tweak your manuscript until you're happy with it. With video you have to get it right pretty much straight off the bat, which means knowing your subject matter well, and having the confidence to communicate direct to camera. It was a challenge for sure, and it took over six hours of footage and many takes to get it right.
People will be investing their hard-earned cash in your product, so itís my responsibility to deliver sound advice that's clear and digestable. Whether your audience are beginners or experienced bodybuilders, you want them to come away from watching your video having learned something useful, and not be more confused then when they started! There is a lot of misinformation in bodybuilding and I wanted to clear up a lot of these issues. That was one of the goals of the DVD.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects to ĎSelf Builtí was that it was filmed in my own home gym. I used to train in commercial gym environments, but in 2005 I decided to build my own log-cabin gym, which I use most of the time nowadays. I kitted it out with a range of free weights and quality Cybex equipment. Actually, when it was finished, one of the first things that struck me was that itíd make a pretty cool environment for filming the DVD, a bit different from the norm. I liked that. Itís just me versus the machines, nothing else, no distractions.
From the outset, I made sure the production quality was up to the job, so I had extra lighting installed in the gym and employed the use of two cameras for filming, which enabled every exercise to be captured from two separate angles. This was fully exploited in the edit and gives a nice 3D representation of the performance of each exercise.
There were a couple of things I wanted to avoid though, 'common traps' if you like. Firstly, training the ego by using too much weight to try and impress the viewer! This tends to result in the use of sloppy form and backfires in my opinion. I wanted to emphasise the use of moderately heavy weight but with ultra-strict form, because thatís how I train, itís how Iíve built my physique, and itís how Iíve managed to stay injury free for the last twenty years. As an instructional DVD, above all else, you must send out a message of how to train safely.
My other pet gripe is videos without running commentary. There really is no excuse for this. I made an effort to discuss in detail what Iím doing, and why Iím doing it, from start to finish: how to set up the machines, how to perform the exercise, how not to perform the exercise, what muscle-groups it targets, both directly and indirectly, and so on... Little tips that maybe arenít so obvious to the beginner, but that can really benefit your training. I must admit though, at times all that talk was pretty hard going. For example, on leg day I had just finishing my top set of leg presses to failure, and could barely remember my name afterwards, let alone talk to camera. I must have sounded like I was ready to pass out!
In all, ĎSelf Builtí covers three days of full-bore training, and there is also a section on nutrition in the kitchen where I discuss the kind of foods I eat on a day-to-day basis, foods that will support muscle growth without adding excess body fat. The emphasis here is on the basics, because itís the basics that will get you bigger and stronger, year after year.
Also included is my posing routine from the 2006 WNBF Pro World Championships in New York. I wanted to show the end result if you will, the finished product from all that hard work in the gym and many weeks of dieting. I was fortunate enough to get permission to use the footage and I think it makes a fitting conclusion to the DVD.
Iíve been asked who would benefit from watching ĎSelf Builtí. Well, above all I think it will be of most benefit to natural bodybuilders, although I believe a lot of the advice should be pretty universal. There is much to get wrong in this demanding sport of ours, and believe me Iíve made all those mistakes in the past. Thatís what this DVD is all about; sharing knowledge, so if I can help you climb just a few rungs higher up the ladder of fulfilling your true physical potential, and motivate you a little bit along the way, then hopefully you'll be happy - and my job is done.
I was fortunate in having a lot of help and support, and would like to credit Udoís Choice and Savant Distribution, who sponsored the production, along with the help of Tony Barnes. Thanks also to Maximuscle and Zef Eisenberg, Campbell Brogan, and last but not least my wife Sandra, who all contributed in significant ways.
'Self Built' is now available to purchase from the shop