Venice, in west Los Angeles, is known for its canals, beaches, Bohemian residential area and colourful boardwalk teeming with people with tanned and toned bodies. At Muscle Beach, first-timers are amazed at the sight of people who have obviously been seriously working-out some of them with Ric Draisin, aka the Equalizer. Draisin is a legend of pro-wrestling and runs a school for people who want to be superstars. He also lays claim to being an artist, actor, stuntman, writer and personal trainer.
Ric began bodybuilding in the 1960s, training with his friend, now Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. He then moved to wrestling and in the 1980s started the American Wrestling Federation.
Methods at AWF range from old school to today's techniques. They teach holds, bumps, reversals, ring presence, character development, how to work an audience, punches and kicks. All of these can lead to stunt work, which is extremely lucrative, particularly in Hollywood.
AWF co-ordinates movies, commercials and music videos, so apart from having fun and learning self-defence, there are many spin-offs. There are classes for men, women and children.
The gym has a 4.8x4.8 metre wrestling ring. Basic requirements are knee and elbow pads, flat-soled runners and loose, comfortable clothing.
The AWF Training School provides a wide education in not only the mechanics of wrestling, but in professional conduct and etiquette. Along with the structured wrestling-based training, work on cardio and stamina and training in promo skills, trainees are also taught how to help with refereeing and ring announcing and how to set up the ring. New trainees are encouraged to make themselves available for shows to help backstage and to set up.
Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
AWF training classes start at around $185, which includes registration and first session. After that, it's around $70 a class.
Air New Zealand has flights to Los Angeles.
Valid for travel between November 1 and December 9, 2007. Conditions apply.
For more information
American Wrestling Federation
14157 Califa Street
CA 91401 USA
Air New Zealand
Ph: 13 2476