by Christian Duque
After a very vaguely-written Instagram post speaking about his current prep for the 2023 Olymphia, the Classic Physique champion opened up to his millions of fans. He spoke about besting doubts and getting through all the suffering, but he also talked about the ‘near future’ and there being a time when ‘the right choice’ will be to move on. He spoke about that point in time when the athlete is defined as a person by his competitive career. He also talked about the future, which many take to mean a future without bodybuilding.
Others believe that this might be his segway to the Open. Quite a few believe that what this message means is that Bumstead may quit in the very near future. Very few observers think he may not compete for his 5th Sandow, but those voices are few and far between. That said five Sandows doesn’t put him in any better position that having four or having six. At this point competing has probably become second nature to Cbum and without there being a Breon Ansley type rival, I think the guy might be bored to tears. He’s also not a guy that hits the gear hard. That being said, let’s run a few of the aforementioned scenarios and see how they could play out. We can, at least, do that as much, right?
Let’s consider the idea of a future without bodybuilding for Bumstead. Could he continue to get the same kind of numbers he enjoys on social media without competing or being at shows? Absolutely he could! And that’s because Chris has amassed a huge fanbase that’s not contingent on people who follow competitive physique-based sports.
How do I know this for sure? Well, let’s go back to the 2021 Epic Block Party in New York that I attended. Chris was at this event in Queens, NYC, that drew lines that exceeded five city blocks long! While there many fitness celebs there, I was able to walk the entire line asking the faithful who they were there for. It was part of a special video I was doing on the event for StrengthAddicts and the vast majority of the kids (ages 16-70) were there for Chris Bumstead. They weren’t there for Nick Walker, Evan Centropani, or even Mr. Olympia Brandon Curry. They wanted to see Chris and many of them didn’t even know he was Mr. Olympia.
How do I know? Again, because I asked. I was floored by the fact that so many of them were clueless as to the title the guy they were waiting hours to meet held. They just knew him from Instagram and YouTube and they wanted to know what supplements he believed in. Most didn’t even know he was a part-owner of RAW. Again, all they knew is what they saw on their phones, and they made the pilgrimage to meet their hero. Some came from Brooklyn, others from Connecticut, some from as far away as Delaware. They weren’t there for free samples, t-shirts, or great deals. They were there for Cbum.
If Chris quit competing but kept looking insane on social media, most of these guys would flock to wherever he went. He didn’t earn their support by competing. He earned it by lifting hard, eating clean, and constantly posting content and interacting with the fans. It’s as simple as that.
If Chris competes this year, he will keep the division going strong. Very much like Flex Lewis with The 212, DLB with Women’s Physique, and Jeremy Buendia with MPD, Chris Bumstead has put Classic Physique on the map far more than any other champion before him. Breon did a great job, as did Danny Hester, but Bumstead has become the GOAT.
No one has won as many titles as him and even Arnold himself has gone on record a number of times saying that Chris represents what bodybuilding should be. This is not to say that if Bumstead retires that the CP Division will die out, but it goes without saying that it would take a major hit. There also wouldn’t be a sure-fire guy to replace him, let alone win multiple titles.
Right now, Bumstead dominates Classic Physique, and the longer he competes, the more interest he’s going to drum up for it. There have actually been a number of regional contests that have more classic competitors than bodybuilding ones. The division has also surpassed Men’s Physique in a number of markets. That’s absolutely insane. I never in a million years thought we’d see another men’s division beat out MPD, just like I never thought I’d see another women’s division beat out Bikini. Well…, Classic Physique and Wellness have done just that, respectively.
There’s a pretty good chance Chris will do this year’s Olympia. I mean we’re only two months away at this point so that’s pretty much a sure thing. It’s also a sure thing that Chris can continue to do blockbuster business if he walked away from the sport altogether. What’s the most unlikely in my opinion is that Chris will compete another 2-3 years or more.
I also think that the idea of Chris going to the open is even less realistic. He’s older, tired, and he wouldn’t be able to give his best. That’s of course debatable, but pretty much everything in this article is.
Bumstead has become less and less excited about the preps. Each year he speaks on just how much he has to suffer and even though there have been some allowances made to give the Classic guys a little more weight to play with, Bumstead has to be the best. He’s everything the division is supposed to look like and the spotlight is on him. He can’t have a bad outing and the more titles he wins, the more committed he has to become. He has spoken about this at length and quite frankly there’s less and less for him to gain. The prize money for Classic is trash. Most of his fans could care less whether he wins one more Sandow or five more. And the prep is unbearable. Plus he’s no spring chicken anymore so the caloric manipulation and the intense training is taking a toll on him. He’s becoming more susceptible to injuries and his health and well-being also come into play.
Furthermore, as it’s already been stated, Bumstead is a part-owner of one of the most successful supplement companies on the planet. Instead of putting sixteen weeks into prepping for a contest, he could be brainstorming new ad campaigns, scouting talent, and making appearances all over the world. At the end of the day, it’s all about dollars and cents, and he’d make a lot more of both, doing work for RAW and other branding ventures than doing one more Olympia.
Will Bumstead do the 2023 Olympia? Sure. What about 2024, 2025, and beyond? Highly doubtful if you ask me. But what say you? What does the future hold for the GOAT of Classic Physique?