When I ask Ano, this year’s breakout star on Team Aesthetics and someone who still reveres Shawn Ray and Flex Wheeler, what he thinks of the state of modern bodybuilding, he has strong opinions. “Everyone has been wondering about this after what Arnold said [championing Cedric McMillan and more aesthetic bodybuilders the day after this year’s Arnold Classic]. This [emphasizing aesthetics] is just the way it has to be, because the last couple of years we’ve seen so many guys with bloated guts and looking monstrous onstage. It might be impressive, but at the end of the day, look at where these guys end up. I think you still want to be in good shape and health after your career. Of course, certain things like injuries are somewhat out of your control, but that’s what happens when you push it to the limits. You need to know how to limit yourself for your health and for the best look to your physique.

“I want to keep bodybuilding aesthetic. I want to be the future of bodybuilding. I want us to go back to those old-school physiques, so people can compete longer and also project a better image. Look at guys back in the ’70s and ’80s and ’90s. [Back then] people were saying, ‘What a nice physique.’ And now with the monster generation, people see bodybuilding as all about drugs and unattainable goals. You want to have something that people can reach for. So I think it’s more important to keep that more aesthetic, symmetrical look and don’t go too overboard.

“For me, today, I look up to people like Shawn Rhoden. I like Dennis Wolf’s look, too; he’s big, but he has nice lines. I still love Dexter Jackson’s physique. Even Big Ramy, he’s enormous, but he’s still in proportion with a waist that’s still very small for the size of his quads and his shoulders. So that’s what I think we should emphasize. Of course, these are still giant guys, but they keep it aesthetic. And that’s what I aspire to be as I continue to fill out. I want to get bigger but not at the expense of my aesthetics.” – FLEX