Generation Iron 2 is fresh out on Netflix and follows five of the top figures in the bodybuilding industry.
The filmmaker follows Kai Greene, Calum Von Moger, Iris Kyle, Ahmad Ashkanani and Rich Piana – a broad spectrum who share a common desire to be successful.
Generation Iron 2
We start with a brief overview of bodybuilding, noting that while the fitness industry is growing, bodybuilding is still a niche subculture. They talk through the history and how they’ve branched out by adding categories like physique, fitness and bikini. One of the five is Iris Kyle, 10 times Ms. Olympia winner. Sadly for her Ms. Olympia was cancelled in 2015 due to low popularity.
Iris Kyle/Hidetada Yamagishi
With Ms. Olympia cancelled, Iris is unable to compete on the biggest stage and is notably frustrated. While caught in limbo she devotes her attention to partner Hidetada Yamagishi, who is prepping for the Arnold Classic. She seemed passionate about the sport and admits she wouldn’t consider losing mass to fit in as a physique competitor. Women’s bodybuilding gets a mixed response due to the masculine faces, which she admits is a clear side effect.
Calum Von Moger
I was all set up to dislike one of the social media generation, but 26 year old Calum is a likeable guy (if not the brightest crayon in the box). He possesses great genetics for bodybuilding and is just starting out in the industry. Some of the older generation seem against the idea of having an online following before you’ve achieved anything, and Calum is a prime example. He has 2.2 million followers on Instagram but at the time of filming wasn’t even a professional bodybuilder. There’s a cringe-worthy scene where he has an interview with a casting agent and is clearly out of his depth. There are plenty of guys like Calum trying to follow in the path of Schwarzenegger, but without the intelligence or work ethic.
Three time runner up to Phil Heath, Kai has great stage presence and is know for being entertaining on stage. In this documentary he’s pitched as a philosopher, and spends a lot of time musing about life beyond bodybuilding. We follow his journey outside of the gym, from acting to graphic design and his involvement in a supplement line. He seems disillusioned with bodybuilding and keen to move beyond it. As with Calum he is branching into acting, but seems to go about it with more professionalism.
Rich “Tells it like it is” Piana. Ironically in the first scene he speaks of growth hormone and its uses for longevity, and how careful you have to be when cycling steroids. He covers topics like fluctuating liver enzymes and HRT, and the toll it takes on the human body. For those of you unaware, Rich passed away 25th August 2017 aged 45, following a coma. We see him pushing a supplement line and his “Team 5%” brand, as well as managing his social media presence. I found all five characters to be delusional to some degree, with Rich top of the pile.
Ahmad is part of the set up at Oxygen Gym in Kuwait, alongside pro’s like Brandon Curry. Oxygen Gym was created by Bader Boodai, whose mission is to assemble a successful “team” and promote bodybuilding in his country. Free from the distractions of the Western world, the ethos is hard work and relentless focus. I think the aim is to replicate how bodybuilding was in the 60’s and 70’s, the “glory days”.
I found this documentary quite poorly put together with no cohesive story-line. There was almost no substance to it and the only overlap was Ahmad and Hidetada at the same competition. As a Sports Biomechanist I was most interested in a lab briefly featured called ASPI. They use body scans for asymmetry and physical tests for injury prevention, and seemed to be using electrical stimulation to create micro tears in muscle. I would have much preferred to go in depth on that and heard less from Rich Piano.
Overall I’d say Generation Iron 2 was a lowly 4/10, and something not worthy of your time.