Dave Bautista on how bodybuilding saved his life: 'When I found a gym, it became therapeutic for me'

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VENICE, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 03:  Dave Bautista attends the red carpet of the movie

Dave Bautista says bodybuilding saved his life.

The Guardians of the Galaxy and Dune actor recently paid a visit to his new tattoo shop — the Tampa, Fla.-based DC Society — where he opened up about his journey from troubled teen to Marvel superstar.

“Bodybuilding saved my life because I was really a f***ed up kid,” Bautista told Dan Solomon, president at bodybuilding company and competition Olympia, as he was prepping for a new tattoo. “I was in a lot of trouble, getting in the worst kind of trouble and hanging out with the worst kinds of people. I just didn’t have anywhere to channel all my anger and aggression. And when I found a gym, it became therapeutic for me.”

Bautista, who started wrestling as a junior in high school, explained that his love for the sport served as a stepping stone in his journey to recognizing weight lifting as his passion.

“I loved wrestling, I really loved training,” he shared. “So I started training for years and then when I got out of high school, all I wanted to do was be a bodybuilder. [But] for years and years and years I just paused that [because] I didn’t have what it took to be a professional bodybuilder. But I loved training so much that I turned it into professional wrestling.”

He continued, “[I] started to take my body I had from bodybuilding and my athletic ability from wrestling, and turned that into a [wrestling] career, which led into film,” he said. “That’s where it all started for me.”

Bautista worked with the WWE for about 10 years before breaking into acting as Drax the Destroyer in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy. However, Bautista, who has had recent roles in Dune, Apple's See and Army of the Dead, will be exiting the Marvel role in May 2023.

"I'm going to be 54 years old by the time Guardians 3 comes out," he said on The Ellen Show in May last year about why he is going to step away from being the alien character. "The shirtless thing is getting harder and harder for me."

But that doesn't mean he's done training. Rather, as he recently told Men's Health, he continues to work out hard it still provides mental health benefits. “I think a lot of people think I’m just a meathead and that I live my life lifting weights. And I actually don’t. I do live my life training, but I think people think that I train because I want to look like a bodybuilder or a big musclehead. And it’s not at all the case,” he said. “Me looking the way I do is really just kind of a by-product of that. I’m not consumed about like, ‘Oh, I can bench, like, 500 pounds; I can deadlift 800 pounds.’ I’m not that guy at all. I’d rather watch someone else deadlift than do it myself. I’d rather be boxing or doing some type of interesting cardio like cycling. I’d rather be working with a trainer and keeping it fresh.”

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