Bodybuilders, to state the obvious, have big muscles.

Freakishly big muscles … with veins and tendons sticking out in such ways that remind you that some things are best left covered up.

Let’s face it, all of those rippling muscles not usually seen on a normal human are not pleasing to look at for those who subscribe to the classic definition of beauty.

Reuben Van Klavern is not a body builder.

Yet he is just as passionate about developing his muscles and gets just as jazzed when an audience appreciates the results he painstakingly achieves.

Van Klavern, instead, is a “fitness and muscle model”.

These are your kinder, gentler bodybuilders who treat their bodies to the best nutrition and best workouts for the most-pleasing results.

It should be pointed out that “pleasing” is the word chosen by this writer, and not by Van Klavern. No, no, Van Klavern is too easygoing and modest to use an adjective other than “developed” to describe his physique. And, only then, it is framed in how close he is to his “peak”.

“I wish you had been here two months ago … or next month,” he says while taking direction from photographer Rick Massie. “I was closer to my peak then.”

That peak, by the way, is well off yet. He is hoping to compete in a fitness and modelling competition in Calgary in October of 2009. That is where he is engineering his “peak” to hit.

Following cycles of five months each, he is building weight from muscle and the unfortunate accompaniment of fat, and then reducing just the fat to reveal the sculptured muscle.

Depending on the cycle, Van Klavern says he is consuming anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 calories a day.

The results, he says, are “stronger, more rounded”.

“I need a lot more carbs, a lot more protein and a lot more fibre,” he says matter-of-factly; then, seeing the loathing in my eyes, he adds, “I burn off a lot.”

Yes he does. Peaks require a lot of hard work. And it takes the right kind of work, too, to tear down the muscle and then build it up in just the right way.

Van Klavern first goes through “muscle development”, which puts on mass. He does “low reps” of six to 10 to the point of exhaustion … until he can do no more. He calls this, “to failure”.

“It may not be pretty, but muscle gets put on,” he says.

Then he will cycle through “stabilization”, which adds definition to the muscle. Some call this “toning”.

This time, he will do 12 to 15 reps at medium intensity (that is to say, not to the point where he fails to lift his limbs again).

Ironically, fitness and muscle models do not pose as much as bodybuilders. This is, instead, a pursuit that encourages people to lead a healthy life.

Van Klavern has learned the proper application of nutrition: he knows how important sleep is and he knows that the mind must be developed along with the muscles.

And it is interesting to note that vanity has very little to do with Van Klavern’s hobby. He was a “small, skinny kid” in high school” when he injured his shoulder. He needed to develop it and soon realized, “Wow, this is fun!”

He developed a passion for developing his body and, when he was asked to model a swimsuit for a fashion show in his final year at F.H. Collins Secondary School, he trained even harder for the confidence it would give him.

“The crowd roared,” he says today, a little embarrassed still. “The girls, of course … it inspired me.”

Today, it is all about his love of training and the level of peace he achieves while working out at Peak Fitness.

“I’m relieving stress,” he says. “I love to train.”