Updated: Feb 21, 2019
The subject of steroid use (and misuse), particularly by young men, has been in the news a lot lately and it is important to talk about this topic.
For me, where there is little or no mental strength where training and physical development is concerned there is the temptation to compensate with steroids as when there insecurity where training is concerned there is also the temptation to fall back onto steroid use for support.
Those in the professional world of sport can be tempted to use steroids just as much as anyone else, and especially when a big competition comes around. Also, in the world of movies where the role demands physical action the actor concerned can be seduced into using steroids to win a lucrative casting contract.
It is OK to talk about steroids and to be aware of how and why they are used. But we need also to look further into sports psychology and gain a wider understanding of the value of sport itself. Once this happens more respect can be brought into the gym and into the training routines we follow and subsequently the less temptation there will be to look to steroids to get results.
The sad story of Dean Wharmby who died from liver cancer, apparently as a direct result of his use of steroids, shows that for many men the driving reason they use steroids is to be seen favourably by their peers (and potential partners). Wharmby seems to have sadly succumbed to the idea that if you don’t constantly visually stimulate those around you, then you lose their interest or validation.
For me, I don’t think that bodybuilders are particularly popular per say because of how they look; that in some way how they look makes them special. Rather, their culture, I would argue, should be viewed as an extension of the gym scene itself (or to be fair a certain and substantial element of it) and a key part of the fitness/physical perfection mix.
And although we talk of competition bodybuilding as an extension of the world of fitness, it is important to bear in mind that steroid use can (apart from potentially bulking up the physique of the person who takes them) lead to serious physical damage to the liver, psychological well being and to the social life of the taker, regardless of the perceived benefits such use may bring. Steroid use can also affect sexual performance and, as with Wharmby, ultimately lead to terminal cancer.
Not particularly attractive, or inviting.
I actually think that taking a constructive approach to training helps to prevent mistakes in the training regime and that this preventative approach is in the interest both of the person looking to get fit and for those (like myself) who train people to reach that goal. For example, if a person would want to get big and then used steroids to achieve this goal there are risks involved that can have serious long-term effects (as demonstrated in the Dean Wharmby case).
Those who want to get big and use steroids to achieve this goal will of course pay for their steroids, though perhaps not for a personal trainer to train them (in the same way that cocaine users pay for cocaine, but not for someone to then put that cocaine up their nose).
In which case both the person training and the personal trainer both lose out.
It is a total lose-lose scenario for everyone concerned.
If you think about it, steroids are a relatively easy drug to contemplate taking in terms of their effect (if not their monetary cost), even if such use might damage the liver, encourage the person concerned to become anti-social, spend large amounts of money on the habit, develop get bad skin, suffer sexual side effects, mood swings, etc.
And for what? To get big?
If you are, for example, a personal trainer, a club doorman, an action movie star, a porn star, a go go dancer or an escort then being big might be useful to you. Otherwise, good luck with that, as it will probably add no measurable value to your life. Can you imagine quantifying your achievement in getting big to someone outside of the gym bubble, for example?
It’s not a very interesting achievement to those not in the zone and at the end of the day does it really count for much beyond what is going on inside the head of the person so concerned?
I don’t want to promote insecurity and I don’t want to make people feel prisoners of their own image. Rather I want to help people to feel more confident about themselves.
Training for me is more about becoming healthy and then living a sustainably healthy lifestyle, whilst giving the person concerned the strength (both mentally and physically) to pursue their dreams and ambitions.
There are few quick fixes on that journey, but many rewards for reaching its end.