This is going to be controversial coming from a personal trainer whose income is tied to being fit and showing others how to achieve the same. But bear with me, it’ll make sense in the end.
There is something nuts about how the western society obsesses over six packs, big arms and firm butts. I get that all those things are aesthetically pleasing for the eye and I am not above that. But I believe I look at these bodies differently because I know what sort of sacrifices they’ve made. So usually I can’t help but wonder all sort of amazing things the person could pour their time into instead.
And again, just to limit some of the hate-mail, I am not talking about people who have to look a certain way because of their job, such as modelling, or because they do it for a sport, such as bodybuilding. I put those in the same category as being any athlete who needs to spend a great deal of time to get to the top in their chosen field. That’s no different than me spending a lot of time (and money) reading, taking courses and whatnot to help me in my career. I get that.
This is for those whose success in life doesn’t depend on how good they look in a bikini or a tight pair of trunks. If you train and focus on getting stronger, moving better and being pain-free, are not overweight and have health markers in the healthy-range, you are fine. Trust me. You are 90% there and most likely look fitter than 99.9% of the people on this planet. But spending enormous amount of time, money and resources to get that last 10% is borderline insanity. Besides, chasing that 10% might be what brings your health markers down.
Why not pour all those resources into something that actually has a meaning. Make people mesmerized by learning to juggle, feed the homeless, go pat orphaned cats in the shelter.
Spending enormous amount of time, money and resources to get that last 10% is borderline insanity.
Being a trainer, it’s easy to live in this illusion where everyone trains all the time, obsesses over their looks and is interested in how much weight you just lifted. Because of this hazy bubble you look everyone on the outside as weird. Why are they not investing as much time into their looks? Don’t they get it?
It’s only once I took a step back and realized, hold on, this is not normal. Most people don’t actually live this way. Most people don’t train five to seven days a week or worry about how many calories they just ate. Although most people seem to tell others about it on social media. But, I digress. Most people don’t stress on how that extra beer is going to affect their gains.
And if we look beyond the western society and societies impregnated by the western values, training purely for looks (beyond a certain point) is almost absurd. Dedicating a huge portion of life to look great, just to snap a photo and put it on social media to get likes. It’s a fleeting second of youth, but at least we have a photo to share at dinner parties for the rest of our existence. “This is how I looked 30 years ago”. Wow.
Because it’s how we validate our self worth
I have hypotheses, and maybe someone’s already research this and made a conclusion. Either way, here’s mine. We put so much effort and energy into our bodies because we are lacking a purpose in life. We are lost so we grab onto anything that gives our existence a meaning, no matter how shallow and artificial that action might be. We lack courage and strength to be ourselves so we look for acceptance through our “friends” on social media or compliments at the dinner table. We hide our insecurities behind the curtains of pumped muscle, shredded abs and plastic tits.
Look around you, observe people who are extremely confident, charismatic and seemingly comfortable being themselves. Richard Branson, Johnny Depp, Michelle Obama, Jay-Z. Do they spend excessive amounts of time in gyms to achieve a perfect physique? Obviously I have no inside information into their routines. But just by judging a book by it’s cover, e.g how they look, I doubt they spend countless of hours in gyms. Probably just enough to be healthy. And they all look great, to my eye anyways.
Even the greatest bodybuilder of all time, Arnold Schwarzenegger looked just like a normal person while he was the governor. Not bad, not unhealthy, just a bit more muscular version of an average 60 year old man. Because he had a bigger purpose in life than to pump weights. Now, as he is doing movies again, he is jacked out of his mind because it goes hand in hand with his purpose, looking good in movies. But that’s not the purpose of an average man in their 60’s.
We hide our insecurities behind the curtains of pumped muscle, shredded abs and plastic tits.
We all need to take a step back and realize what is important in life. Is it having a six pack, or are you just saying that because that’s what you think the right answer is. Because that’s what you have been made to believe through watching perfect bodies in TV shows, magazine covers and catwalks. You know it’s not real but it’s everywhere and so it becomes part of our alternative reality. You might think that you are less of a person if you look healthy and “only good”, instead of sizzling and dripping with sexiness.
Hey, I did that too. Luckily I stopped before the breast augmentation-part.
These ideals are force-fed to us
In all seriousness, I still occasionally struggle with trying fit into the mold that is forced upon us. Namely that I am not muscular enough or my shoulders are not broad enough, based on what our culture is force-feeding us. We all have our insecurities, and it’s normal.
But, on most Saturdays and Sundays I play guitar and have a drink because I love having a drink while playing guitar. Yes, it will stop me from being ripped. But I get more out of life when I combine beer and guitar over beach and abs. As long as I am healthy and strong, that’s all I care about. If it makes me happy and feel like I am living a fulfilling life I try not to give a flying-fuck on what everyone else thinks I should look like. And neither should you.
Just because a certain look is what others think is the pinnacle of perfect doesn’t mean that you have to strive to look like that. Set your own goals and targets, accept them and be content when you get there. Hell, maybe you’re there already.
Am I contradicting myself here? Does this mean that what I do for work is meaningless? After all I help people with training, fitness and health.
Far from it. I don’t sell my services with naked photos or telling potential clients that I will help them to get six packs. I help people to have healthy, resilient bodies so they can do awesome things outside of the gym. I want no-one to become a gym-rat because they started training with me.