I Vant To Pump You Up

By Alex Suskind

Published September 02, 2009, issue of September 11, 2009.
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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a former weightlifter, once said this about body fat and exercise: “It’s simple. If it jiggles, it’s fat.”

Effi Kivelevitz
COURTESY OF IAFBB
Effi Kivelevitz

For Effi Kivelevitz, extra adipose is one thing he does not have to worry about.

Kivelevitz was named the overall winner of the Israeli Amateur Federation of Bodybuilding’s Mr. Israel 2009 contest on August 22. He began entering bodybuilding competitions only two years ago.

Born and raised in the United States, Kivelevitz is a former yeshiva bokher who attended Jewish schools in Pennsylvania and in New York City.

“I wasn’t a very religious yeshiva bokher. I was observant — I studied for a few hours every day, [and] in the afternoon we had secular study,” Kivelevitz told the Forward.

Although he exercised regularly, Kivelevitz didn’t get into competitive bodybuilding until he met former Israeli Olympic bodybuilder Amit Sapir, who became Kivelevitz’s training partner and created a weightlifting and dieting program for the future Mr. Israel winner. (His workout plan for this year’s competition consisted of a strict diet as well as workouts of two and a half to three and a half hours, six days a week.)

Kivelevitz, who still prays daily and attends synagogue once a week, had this to say about the crossover between religion and weightlifting: “With religion, you have a structure in life, and I was able to translate that into my training…. It is the same way that when you are observant, you can’t eat certain foods… so I was used to those types of restrictions and I was able to translate it into getting ready for a show.”

The 34-year-old Kivelevitz is now hoping to compete in the United States. To keep up his winning ways, perhaps he can take note of more Schwarzenegger words of wisdom from an exchange in the 1982 film “Conan the Barbarian.” When the Mongol General asks: “What is best in life?” Conan responds: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you.”


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