Fallen warrior: Jean-Pierre Fux suffers a devastating injury…but he’ll be back!
At 11:22 AM on Thursday, May 2, all was right with the world of Jean-Pierre Fux. At 280 hard pounds, he was in his best shape in years and relishing the prospect of qualifying for the Mr. 0 at the Night Of Champions 16 days hence. At 11:23 on Thursday, May 2, Jean-Pierre’s dreams lay in ruins as he lay prostrate on the floor at Gold’s Gym, Fullerton, California, immobilized.
In the midst of doing 675-pound squats at a FLEX photo shoot with Chris Lund, he had suddenly collapsed and crashed to the gym floor.
Here’s how Jean-Pierre remembers the accident. “We’d worked up to seven plates on each side. That weight is not a problem for me — I had done the same thing a week earlier for my training video. I began to squat down and everything was fine. Then in a split second, I went from complete comfort to collapse. My knees just went — I crashed down so quickly the spotters didn’t have time to react. Afterward, they felt bad about it, but it was so quick, nobody could have caught the weight.”
Jean-Pierre crashed to his knees and swayed back slightly before the weight was lifted from him. As the 675-pound load was released, he remembered something he’d once been told: To reduce tendon damage following such an injury, the legs should be kept straight. With that in mind, he somehow straightened his legs out on the floor, as Lund and his assistants rushed to his sides and started applying ice to both knees.
As they waited for the paramedics, Jean-Pierre said he was initially “not in a great deal of pain” and was unsure of the extent of his injuries. After a few minutes, the right knee swelled up alarmingly; next, the excruciating pain began. However, the thought uppermost in Jean-Pierre’s mind was not the pain, but that “all those months of contest training and dieting have now gone for nothing.”
Despite his own trauma, he could see that the accident had affected Lund, and he attempted to buoy up the lensman’s spirits by quipping, “Well, Chris, it looks like 1,000-pound leg presses are out of the question.”
Recalling the incident, Lund says, “Despite the pain and agony he was in, he managed a joke — that’s a man for you. A lot of the pros would have been bawling their heads off, but Jean-Pierre just gritted his teeth. I’ve spoken to him regularly since the injury and not once has he vented any thoughts of feeling sorry for himself. He’s a remarkable guy.”
The paramedics duly arrived and ferried Fux to a local hospital; he was later transferred to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, nearer his Palm Springs home. The diagnosis was torn vastus medialis of the left thigh and torn patella ligaments of the right leg. At 3 PM on Friday, May 3, he underwent four hours of surgery to repair the damage. He was told the surgery went as well as could be expected. His doctor told him he was confident the left quadriceps would recover fully, but cautioned that it was too soon to say whether the same would be true for the damaged patella. Jean-Pierre remained hospitalized for two weeks and returned to his Palm Springs home on Monday, May 20.
During his time in the hospital, and despite being in a wheelchair with his legs kept straight, Jean-Pierre visited the gym every day “to do some upper-body work.” At home, he continues the practice. He asserts, “I have to go to the gym. It’s who I am. Physically I need the feel of the weight, and mentally I have to make the statement that I’m a bodybuilder.” He trains for about 20 or 30 minutes daily, and can get out of his wheelchair and shuffle around on crutches, although, he says, ‘After half an hour, my knees begin to swell slightly and I have to get back in the wheelchair.”
As of late May, the prognosis is that Fux will commence therapy to start bending his knees by late June. If all goes well, by early August, he will be able to drive his car and become more independent. He is uncertain when he will return to the competitive stage; he only knows he will. To us, he displays the soul of a warrior.
“While I waited for the paramedics,” says Fux, “a lot of things went through my mind. Had I had a great pro career and won a bunch of titles, then maybe retirement would have seemed the way to go. But my career has been one of disappointment. My fault — I never got things together the way I should have. Even at the 1997 Mr. Olympia [where he finished seventh and was hailed as a future Mr. O], I had been sick for a few days and lost size. Last year, two weeks out from the Night Of Champions, I was in great shape, then screwed it up by losing 15 pounds trying to be harder. For my own peace of mind, I have to go onstage just once looking like the Jean-Pierre I know I can be. I need to do that before I retire. I’m still only 33. Ronnie and other guys in the top five [at the Olympia] are a lot older. I have the time.”
He pauses, before concluding softly, “Lying on a gym floor was no way to retire. I thought, I can’t go out like this, I have unfinished business.”
RELATED ARTICLE: WARNING: Do not attempt to use this amount of weight yourself. Jean-Pierre is an experienced professional bodybuilder, who is aided by spotters, wraps and a lifting belt, and he uses a weight he is accustomed to. Always use caution when weight training. And when you’re doing squats, spotters and a training belt are essential. However, Jean-Pierre’s experience illustrates that even when taking every precaution, accidents can still happen. So always lift within your ability, and seek professional guidance when you perform exercises or use equipment for the first time.
WHY WE PRINTED THESE PHOTOS
When the accompanying photographs of Jean-Pierre Fux’s training accident arrived on my desk, I hesitated to use them in the magazine. Although we wanted to tell Jean-Pierre’s story, we didn’t want to exploit this devastating incident, which happened to occur in front of FLEX photographer Chris Lund and his camera. It was Jean-Pierre himself who urged us to reconsider and publish the photos, both as a record of his injury and as an explicit cautionary lesson to others. We will continue to chart Jean-Pierre’s progress during his rehabilitation, both to educate and inspire. We wish him the best — he deserves it.
COPYRIGHT 2002 Weider Publications
COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group