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Interview With Kefalianos' Coach, David Balasas
Interview With Mike Kefalianos' Coach - David Balasas
By Kostas Marangopoulos, M.Sc., CPT.
April 3rd, 2013


David Balasas

The following interview was conducted a few days after Michael Kefalianos' return to Greece, after a long series of trips. First from Greece to Columbus for the Arnold Classic and then from there to Melbourne for the Australian Grand Prix. David Balasas has been in bodybuilding for the good part of three decades with a lot of success under his belt, both as an athlete and coach. Known widely as one of the best coaches in Europe, David learned from the best, having spent time in Venice, CA and Gold's gym where he trained in the 90's. In 1995 he won the light heavyweight and overall categories of the NPC Mr. Los Angeles which qualified him for the NPC Nationals. A few months later he returned to Greece where he continued his career as an athlete and trainer, which led to him meeting Michael in Kos Island.

I personally had heard of David as one of the best athletes to come out of Greece during the last decade, but I only found out that he was Michael's coach in 2009, when Mike competed at the Arnold Amateur Classic and received his IFBB pro card. Later on that year in September, I had the opportunity to meet David at the 2009 Olympia Weekend, where he traveled with Mike and his family, feeling an enormous amount of pride for coaching the first Greek bodybuilder to compete at the prestigious show.

Since then, David has coached Michael for more than 20 IFBB pro shows, solidifying him as one of the best prepared and most conditioned athletes in the industry. Rightfully, Mike's outstanding prep and consistency in competitions, has earned him a place among the world's best bodybuilders, a fact that David is very proud of.

-----

KM: Hi David, and welcome once again. I would like to start by thanking you for taking the time to give us this interview. Can you please tell me your history and how you started with bodybuilding in Greece?

David: I’m 47 years old and I started bodybuilding when I was 16 years old because of my father. He was a bit muscular then and I was very proud that my father had such big arms. That was my main motivation to start with bodybuilding. I started competing when I was 27 years old, in Greece and I won the Greek championships in 1995. A few years later I went to live in Los Angeles, and I competed for the NPC, level 5, which means if you win the overall, you qualify for the nationals. So I won the overall and I was Mr. Los Angeles, and since then I did a few more competitions. Now I’m coaching and training Michael Kefalianos, among other top athletes.

KM: How long have you known Mike? When did you meet him and how long have you been his coach?

David: I know Michael a very long time, we live in the same island in Greece, Kos. He left for a few years and lived in Australia. He had met his wife Helen here in Kos, Greece, so they got married and went to Australia, then they came back to Greece. I met him and invited him to join my gym, and that was around 1998. Since then I’m coaching Mike and I’m preparing him for competitions, we train together every day and I think we are a very good team together.

KM: And you are also very good friends, right?

David: Yeah, that’s most important, to be a very good friends, to respect each other, otherwise you can’t do anything. I know Mike very well; he is very focused with what I say to him, he is trusting me and we have great results.

KM: So you’ve been prepping & coaching Mike since basically his first appearance in the IFBB professional competitions in 2009, right?

David: Yes, definitely. It was very difficult for us here to start to compete at the IFBB pro level but Mike believes that nothing is difficult if you believe that you can do it. So I told HIM, one day you’ll compete for the Olympia, and you’ll compete with the best guys. And when I mentioned that to people, that Mike is going to compete there, they looked at me like I was an alien. If you believe something, you do it. And we are here now.

David with Mike Kefalianos

KM:
And you’ve prepped him for three Olympias, and two Arnold Classics in Ohio, two Arnold Classics in Europe and another amateur in 2009; and he has another one coming up in Brazil.


David: Yes, we’ve done around 25 competitions in 3-4 years now and for most of them we were in very good condition, except this past Arnold Classic where we got a little bit too big. Because Mike had to prepare his new house, in this last Arnold Classic he was not in the best condition, because he was very busy with the building and moving. And he had to prepare it to move his family, he’s got four kids, so he prepared a house that's his own and he’s happy to have it. So, he was not as well prepared. But hopefully in the next competition in the FIBO, we are going to show our best self and maybe better. We are going to change some things for the posing routines, plus we have more time now to do that than in the last Arnold Classic.

KM:
When, in your opinion, do you think was Mike’s best showing, best presentation, or best condition during the past 3-4 years?

David: There are many competitions that I liked Mike, one of them was last year at the Australian Pro, where he placed second to Branch Warren. I believe Mike was in a better condition, but Branch, you know, gets respect. I also believe that in his first Olympia in 2009, he was in a very good condition but he was a beginner. He had to place accordingly and you got to respect the judges and what they do. Hopefully, one day the luck is going to smile on us and he is going to do better.


2012 IFBB Australian Pro - Kefalianos vs. Warren

KM: So, this Arnold Classic which was Mike’s first show for 2013, a lot of people, a lot of experts said that Mike was off from his best conditioning. You said that he had a lot of work to do with his new house and because of that he wasn’t 100%. What exactly happened? ‘Cause we know Mike, even if he’s off, he looks great.

David:
Yeah, I don’t like excuses, OK? Half of the mistake for his condition was mine. I didn’t want to push Mike as I usually do. He had to prepare his new house because he had to move out from the other one that he was renting. He had to move to his own house, so he had to work from morning to evening. Then he was training in the afternoon for an hour, so no time to eat properly, no time to do cardio so we didn’t have the best preparations. And because he was invited for the Arnold, we had to do our best and respect the organizers and honor our commitment. So I said to Mike, “Go there, see what’s going to happen, you’ll have a good start to the season and then at the next competitions hopefully we are going to show our best self.”

KM: And he went to Melbourne a week later for Tony Doherty's Grand Prix and he looked much better.

David: At the first competition at the 2013 Arnold Classic, he was overloaded. I mean, he ate more than he was supposed to eat. And his look was unbalanced, he held a lot of water. When I saw that, I was not there, but we spoke on the internet, I saw pictures, when I saw him, I told him to do last minute work. I told him Ok, compete, and then at the next show we'll do better. So he lost a few more kilos, like 4 kilos down. So, he competed in Australia, he was a bit smooth, but he was in a better condition than in the Arnold Classic.

KM: And now it’s been a few days since he’s back from Australia..

David: Now it’s the second week back, we are back training together and I push him to the limits. Actually today we did shoulders workout, he had a good pump, and no injuries. I spoke to him about we have to do, improve the posing and change some things. He’s going to look more sharp, more defined, more hard like stone.

KM: OK, good. So hard work from now on, for the next few weeks until the FIBO.

David: For the next weeks, we have to change some things in the workout, he has to do drop sets, he has to do more cardio. Actually he got a bicycle and he is biking out in the field. But he is more comfortable because in the morning he has time to do the cardio and rest and then he’s doing his workout more focused.


Training At David's Gym In Kos Island, Greece

KM: A lot of people say that Mike will get burned out or tired from competing so much every year. You know him best obviously being his coach for so long, but how does he do so many shows, year after year? He does 7-8, sometimes 9 shows, when most of the guys do 3-4 at the most.

David: Yes, it is very unusual for somebody who’s competing to do so many shows, but Mike I believe he’s got the charisma and he fights. And if he looks tired or anything, be sure, I’m going to tell him. But we always discuss about the next show, and everything, what shows we have to do, and he’s ready to do. He never complains that he’s tired or about the food, or about the training. So he’s giving me motivation too, to work with him more. But I believe that he’s got the charisma to do it, he never gets tired. We are never over pushing. I’m not going to push him over the limits because I want him to have longer term in the sport.

KM: As a coach and friend to Mike, what do you think drives him, motivates him to be among the top athletes in the sport and compete in so many shows?

David: Mike is very proud of what he’s doing and his fans. He sees everyday what they write about him, even some small kids saying, “I want to be like you when I grow up,” they shake his nad, they say, “Hi, Mike, you are very strong, you are a big guy.”
He feels proud, he doesn’t need much to give him the motivation to go on. Even just a few words, they are enough for Mike. So simple.

KM: It is exceptionally simple, and knowing Mike for a few years now, I know that he is one of the most humble guys anyone will ever meet. You’ve coached a lot of people throughout the years, on national and international levels. What do you think is the secret, if secret is the right word, to Mike’s trademark conditioning. How do you achieve it, show after show?

David: As you said, I’ve been coaching many people, professionals and not professionals, but most of them they don’t have the courage to go from one competition to another. They just want to do a few shows to be a little bit famous as we can say, and that’s it. So Mike he doesn’t have that, he is thinking differently. He wants to compete, he’s a fighter, he likes to be up there with the best. I know he has to work on some things on his posing and I believe that we are trying to do the best we can.

KM: Is it Mike’s physique that responds so well to your nutrition and training?

David: Yes, and that gives me the motivation to work more with Mike. His skin stays always clear, you know? Beautiful striations and everything on the back but I believe we can show more, more quality, more definition, and he doesn’t look tired.


Dennis Wolf & Mike Kefalianos - Mr. Olympia 2012

KM: For the last trip to the United States, then to Australia, and back to Greece, he did something like 30.000 miles, you know? Doesn't he get tired?

David: Mike is a traveler; I don’t how he manages that, it’s a long trip. If you are on a plane for 20 hours, it’s a very long time, you have to have strong will to go and do that. Especially if you travel so much, you need some foods that are very important for you to look harder and better.

KM: What do you think will happen or would happen if Mike was an athlete that lived in the United States and didn’t have to go back to Greece or Australia? How would his career go?

David: Yeah, definitely, if he had a job in the United States, that would give him the right things to work with his body more. There are so many other good trainers to take care of him, especially the one I’m respecting the most and is my idol among trainers, Mr. Charles Glass! My respects to him. So hopefully Mike, I don’t know if he was going to look better, but he was going to have more luck and more publicity. Sometimes it’s who knows who, and who is training you. That’s one of the things I realized on the shows, at the competitions.


With Charles Glass At The 2009 Olympia Weekend

KM: Is Mike being sponsored by any big companies right now?

David: Mike has been sponsored from the beginning, since he was an amateur, by Mr. Alex Siatravanis. He owns the Healthy2Day company in Greece, selling supplements, gym equipment and clothes, and he’s the sponsor that took us to where we are here now.

He is the official importer of the NPC clothing in Greece and actually for my own gym I work with him and sell these clothes very much. And plus, one of the most important people is Kostas from the largest Greek bodybuilding site bodybuilders.gr, he made us famous and we owe him a lot to where we are now and all the competitions. These two people they give us big support and I would like to thank them from my heart and we always wish the best for them.

KM: Thank you for you kind words David. I know we said before that you coach a lot of athletes, for the national level in Greece and international level for the Arnold Classic Amateur, Arnold Classic Professional, and many other shows. Would you be open on taking on more IFBB pro athletes to help them with their prep?

David: Yeah I don’t say no to anyone, but I have to see what they have. I mean, how they look, how we can work together and I have to be sure about them before working with them. I’m a little bit difficult on that. But I’m not saying no to anybody.


In Las Vegas For The 2009 Mr. Olympia

KM: What’s your opinion on the upcoming 2013 Mr. Olympia ?


David: My opinion? I like Phil! In the last competition, I was expecting him more cut, more dry. He was OK, but I believe that he’s got more to give. So when he competes, he’s going to win it again. I can’t see any other close to him. But for sure, many other guys are very close, with very good condition.

KM: Just a couple of days ago, we read the sad news that Joe Weider had passed away. Your thoughts?

David: He was the beginning in everything in bodybuilding. In the gym he was the motivation of everybody, and he’s going to stay in our minds forever. I believe he sees what is happening from up there and nobody can forget him. He’s going to be everywhere and he’s the master blaster! He started everything. That’s my opinion. My respects to him.

KM: Definitely one of the biggest influences in my years in bodybuilding & fitness, as well. One last question to close. Who would you like to thank through this interview?

David: I would like to thank all our fans that give us motivation to go on. Thanks from my heart to Alex Siatravanis, our sponsor, for all his help. Also big thanks to you and Bodybuilders.gr for all your support. Many thanks to our families, to my wife, to my kids that are supporting me and a big thanks to Eleni, Mike’s wife because she is a strong woman and she is staying next to Mike whatever happens.

KM: Thank you for your time David, I am happy we had the chance to talk and give the fans a chance to get to know the man who has coached Mike for all these years a bit better. I look forward to the videos of you and Mike training for the upcoming shows.

David: It's been my pleasure, thank you.

To learn more about David, you can visit his Facebook page at:
https://www.facebook.com/david.balasas

For more videos of David training Mike, visit our YouTube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/bodybuildersgr

Check out our contest coverage & reporting:
2013 IFBB Arnold Classic
- 2013 IFBB Australian Pro Grand Prix Photos

 

Copyright 2013 - Bodybuilders.gr
Bodybuilders.gr The Largest Greek Bodybuilding & Fitness Site On The Web

No reproduction of any part of this article is permitted without the express written consent of the authors.



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Έλληνες Πρωταθλητές
Σπύρος Μπουρνάζος - Spyros Bournazos
Μιχάλης Κεφαλιανός - Michael Kefalianos
Μανώλης Καραμανλάκης - Manolis Karamanlakis
Αλέκος Σιατραβάνης
Σταύρος Παπαδόπουλος
Μανώλης Τζινίδης
Δαυίδ Μπαλάσας

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