Frank Zane's Biography
Frank grew up in a tough Pennsylvania coal-mining town. A shy quiet guy when young, he often found himself trying to finish a fight his younger brother had started, only to get beat up. At age 14 Frank discovered bodybuilding when he walked into his high school math class and spotted a muscle building magazine in the wastebasket.
Studying the magazine, he soon started training at the local Wilkes-Barre YMCA weight room. He also bought a 30 pound set of dumbbells and began training at home. His father was angry at him for devoting time to training when he should have been doing work around the house. “Build yourself up by cutting the grass” he was told. This only made Frank all the more determined to succeed and he worked out with weights for three years in high school, with two four month lapses during football season.
He grew from 130 pounds at age 14 to 160 pounds at age 17 and felt great because he could actually see the visible results from his workouts.
During his junior and senior years in high school Frank spent his summers as an archery instructor at a Boys Scout camp in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, working out hard and drinking lots of milk. He would hitchhike home 20 miles on weekends and since his weights were all at camp, Frank would carry 55 pounds of weights along with him so he could train. This way he made sure never to miss a workout.
His parents’ attitude about bodybuilding began changing as they realized his dedication. Frank’s mother especially encouraged him in his training.
Frank graduated first in his high school class and won his first two trophies ever–for academic achievement, along with a partial scholarship to Wilkes College, earning a BS in secondary education in 1964. All this time he continued to train and began entering bodybuilding physique competition. By now Frank had won over two dozen trophies and weighed 185 pounds.
Spending the next two years teaching math in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, he moved to Tampa, Florida in 1966. Being very serious about competitive training and winning every contest around and now felt he was destined for bigger things. Frank wanted to move to California, but it would mean severing East Coast ties so he moved to Florida instead.
Before they met
In the meantime, Christine was growing up in Florida with her three sisters. They were a close family, and enjoyed outdoor activities such as swimming and boating on the Gulf Coast and Sunday picnics and outings with the family. There was hardly a day she did not spend in the warm tropical Florida sunshine playing and soaking up the sun.
Christine was born with a natural artistic talent for drawing and painting. She had entered many local art contests as a child and had won recognition for her talents. In her high school years she began selling some of her paintings, usually to friends and acquaintance. Her artistic talents seemed to come from her father, who did much to encourage and inspire. Christine became very popular in high school, always maintaining a B average, but she liked to socialize more than study being active in civic organizations and was head pep-squad lead, marching in parades and at sporting events.
When Frank and Christine met in Florida in September 1966 she had just begun junior college and he was teaching at a local junior high school where Christine’s younger sister, Pat, was a student. Pat thought it might be nice to have a bodybuilding champion for a brother-in-law and decided to ask Frank home to meet Christine. Frank had been bodybuilding for almost ten years before he moved to Florida in search of a better climate and training conditions.
When Christine met Frank, this was her first encounter with anyone had developed his body so completely. She had seen all the Hercules movies when she was younger but had just assumed these men grew that way naturally. She soon learned otherwise and took up bodybuilding as a means to improve her own figure. She had always had a good figure but found it a challenge to keep her weight under control. With weight training, she found her bodyweight easier to control and felt a lot more energetic from her daily training sessions.
Frank was training for the Mr. America Contest and Christine became interested in competing for beauty titles. She won all of the local competitions she entered in Florida and then decided to compete for the Miss Americana crown in New York City in 1967. Frank had initially shown Christine how he trained and the results bodybuilding exercises produced.
Christine then took what Frank had shown her and modified it into a program that gave her the type of figure she wanted to develop. It worked! Christine won her contest, but Frank came in second in his.
They were married a few months later.
Family and business life
Frank continued teaching junior high school mathematics and Christine managed a nearby women’s health studio. They both continued bodybuilding: Christine exercised hard to set an example for the women in the studio and Frank started serious training for the 1968 Mr. America competition, which he won. One week after winning the Mr. America title in New York City, Frank defeated Arnold Schwarzenegger for the Mr. Universe title in Miami, Florida.
Several months later the Zanes moved to Southern California. Frank began teaching mathematics in Los Angeles while Christine went to college and taught women’s exercise classes in Santa Monica. After moving to California, Frank won the Mr. World title in Brugge, Belgium in 1969, the Mr. Universe title in 1970 and 1972 in London, England and the coveted Mr. Olympia title (world professional bodybuilding champion) in 1977, 1978, and 1979 after 21 years of training. He also earned a second bachelor’s degree in psychology from California State University in Los Angeles in 1977, a California Life Teaching Credential in all subjects k through grades 14, and a Master’s degree in experimental psychology in 1990 from California State University in San Bernardino.
Christine won the Miss Universe Bikini Crown in 1970 and then retired from competition to devote her time to her studies and art. She graduated from California State University in Los Angeles summa cum laude earning a Masters Degree in Fine Arts with skills in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and jewelry. She also earned a California Life Teaching Credential in elementary education and obtained a teaching position with Santa Monica City Schools where she taught from 1973 to 1977. In 1990, Christine earned a Master of Science degree in Clinical Psychology from California State University in San Bernardino.
In 1980, Frank and Christine opened Zane Haven in Palm Springs, a bodybuilding learning center where people could learn the bodybuilding lifestyle in weekend programs. By 1987 they had outgrown the Zane Haven facility and purchased the former Cary Grant estate in Old Palm Springs Movie Colony, moving from Santa Monica in the process. Frank was awarded a U.S. patent for his Leg Blaster invention and began a weight training, nutrition, stress management and deep relaxation program called the Zane Experience in their new location. In October 1998, Frank and Christine sold their Palm Springs estate and relocated to San Diego, California.
Frank operates a thriving fitness mail order business — visit his website www.frankzane.com — and teaches the Zane Experience to clients from all over the world wishing to learn how to be successful at weight training and nutrition. Christine spends her free time creating beautiful jewelry from gemstones and precious metals.
You can read more about Frank in his book Symmetry.