Are You A Bodybuilder?
Written by Frank Rich on July 24, 2018
Before he was Conan the Barbarian, The Terminator, a Kindergarten Cop, chairman of the Presidential Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, the Governor of California, and most recently the host of The Celebrity Apprentice, there was a young man from Austria who would go on to be recognized by just his first name that stormed on the bodybuilding scene in the late 1960s, the era that would go on to be known as the Golden Era of Bodybuilding. 
There were many before his time that were recognized as being the greatest within this subculture, but there was something unique and different about him that catapulted him to mainstream media success and further on into a global icon. His contagious personality and charisma brought attention to a lifestyle and competitive field of bodybuilding that had never been seen before. Still to this day, over 30 years since he last stepped on a bodybuilding stage, many will recognize him as the greatest of all time. 

He was an early pioneer in the awareness of physical fitness and health and was not solely responsible for getting many Americans into the gym, but his influence definitely played a major role in the growth of the fitness industry.

Still though, the competitive field of bodybuilding and fitness was something that would maintain its cult like following and not really gain the mainstream appeal that many thought it would following the documentary, Pumping Iron. Maybe it was the unique fashion sense that many bodybuilders had, or their obsession with vanity that turned others off, but “bodybuilders” were rarely respected and accepted by the general population, most times treated as outcasts, and looked down upon.

The “sport” or industry was still something that the majority didn’t really understand or appreciate, and most bodybuilders stayed within their own circles and trained at gyms that were built for “their kind”.
We live in a different world now, and with physical fitness being at the forefront of most of our lives, it isn’t rare to walk into any gym at any given moment and see someone “prepping” for a show. Sunk in face, striated muscles, vascularity only visible with sub 7-8% bodyfat levels are all signs that those of us within the industry can easily spot out. And then you have the guy or girl stripping down to nearly just their underwear to practice their posing in front of a mirror in the group fitness room or locker room. 

It’s those things that are recognized and appreciated by anyone who has ever stepped foot on a competitive bodybuilding or fitness stage, because they can appreciate the level of commitment it takes from a person to achieve that level of conditioning, most times while balancing a “normal” life schedule, i.e. work responsibilities, family commitments, social obligations.

At the same time, many of the things that are respected and appreciated and fellow competitors are the same things that still keep “bodybuilders” viewed as an outcast. Many times, those pushing their bodies to achieve aesthetic symmetry and greatness are looked at by others as having something wrong with them, or having priorities that don’t fall in line with their own.

Why are “bodybuilders” viewed as outcasts?

Are there actually more of us that fall into this category?

Merriam-webster has given 2 different definitions to the word, bodybuilding.

A. The developing of the body through exercise and diet; specifically : the developing of the physique for competitive exhibition

B. The activity of doing exercises (such as lifting weights) to make the muscles of your body larger and stronger.

So as we can see, one of the definitions is clearly focused on the competitive aspect of bodybuilding, but the other, in my opinion, includes almost everyone that takes part in any type of strength training program.

This includes young kids and teens looking to gain strength to improve at their sports, or first time gym goers looking to gain muscle to feel more confident, or someone who may have “lost their way” and is looking to get back in shape, or just that elderly person who wants to gain strength to improve their overall health.

Whatever the scenario, we can all benefit from having stronger muscles!

And while I understand that as the competitive stage of bodybuilding and fitness will continue to evolve, and the expectations and criteria for what a winning physique will always change, and the “athletes” will only continue to get bigger, and leaner, and at times more “freakish”, which will only make the separation from the general population even larger, I can hope that the stigma that is carried with someone who identifies himself as a bodybuilder will soon be lifted.

Because for a lot of us, it has given us an avenue to set goals and put into action a gameplan, and the feeling of accomplishment when you achieve what you’re working towards cannot be taken away from you.

And as the greatest of all time, the 7 time Mr. Olympia champion has shown us, the work ethic needed to excel in competitive bodybuilding and fitness can be carried over to anything we want, and with the right vision, and effort, anything we dream of can be achieved. 

So the next time someone ask you, “Are you a bodybuilder”, what will your answer be? 

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About Author:
Frank Rich

Frank Rich is an online fitness entrepreneur, fitness author, certified trainer & nutrition coach, and bodybuilder. He has close to 2 decades of training experience himself, and has helped thousands of men around the world build muscle, lose fat, and transform their lives. Frank has dedicated himself to helping 100,000 men build what he defines as a MASSTHETIC PHYSIQUE. 
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