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by Gary Turner
The gym… One of the few places in the world you can take out all of your aggression in one single session without getting into any legal or moral trouble. A person can selfishly focus on their goals and what they need to do to achieve those goals. There is no world around them for that period of time as this is an internal battle with you…the man in the mirror. You versus you. Me versus me. Or is it?
If you can’t hear the sarcasm in my voice, it’s because you’re deaf (or you’re reading an article). Look around the gym the next time you go. I don’t care where it is, what kind of gym, or who is there. There is an epidemic going on in the fitness frontier. A virus is infecting most of the gym rats and undermining the motive that REAL athletes have had going to the gym. Most people do not get up and go to the gym for the betterment of one’s self—it’s for everyone else in the gym and outside.
I see random bozos wandering into gyms, spewing some haphazard rhetoric about “carb cycling” this and “undertraining” that from some bogus internet “expert” who couldn’t even lift his gym keychain high enough to scan. Once he gets in and has his $2,000 dollar headphones prepped, it’s time to kill the weights, right? Wrong. First, he needs to check-in on Facebook because the workout does not count if everyone doesn’t know of the valiant efforts required to complete such a vigorous endeavor. Then, when he finally goes into full beast mode, that’s when the real magic happens. The elusive and exclusive “photo shoot” begins.
No, Flex Magazine is not there to film him (you actually need to accomplish something on the stage to be rewarded with that). No, this guy is running his own show. This guy is the director, the producer, the editor, and the actor. His focus is on everything but what really matters—training and how that translates into a superior physique. Instead, he spends hours worrying about the natural lighting, what filter to use, what shirt makes him look the biggest, how his hair looks, and what EVERYONE else will think of these pics once they hit his popular Instagram page. It’s all about how many followers you have after all, right? What gets lost in the shuffle? What really counts in this sport: advancement of one’s physique.
Yesterday my co-worker, naturalguy, and I took a trip down to New Castle, Delaware to take part in an ABC event run by Animal athlete Big Al Fortney at the Training Center. For all of you who don’t know, “ABC” stands for “Animal Barbell Club.” It’s a lifting event where like-minded, serious lifters congregate to lift weights and be part of the iron brotherhood that we all cherish. Sure, there is some bullshitting and catching up with old friends, but I’d be lying if I said people didn’t train hard. People do.
I witnessed Dave Kenderdine (a competitive masters NPC bodybuilder from Delaware) scream at someone: “We train here. We don’t worry about that Instagram shit!” Dave was not kidding and rightfully so. You should be in the gym for 1-2 hours doing everything you can to make yourself better. It should be done for you and for you only—not for all of your admiring fans that might “like” your workout. I got a lot of motivation from hearing Dave sound off and I appreciate his hardcore mindset. It is rare these days, but definitely appreciated when someone dishes out a deserving reality check.
Listen, I’m no psychologist and I don’t pretend to be. But I think our mindset inside (and outside) the gym has been flipped upside down. Now 99% of people who hear me bitch about this nonsense might say, “Meh, society is changing” or “That’s just how people are these days.” You know what I think about that? I think it’s a load of crap. Society is changing because the majority of the people are sheep-like and too lazy to point out when people are doing something the wrong way. They’d rather put their heads down and carry on through their day like a mindless worker ant being commanded by a higher power.
Society is all about ME now. I wouldn’t say that people are generally arrogant, but I do think that more people have become narcissists and victims when it comes to delusions of their own grandeur. People are constantly on social media, posting what they look like and where they are for the mere satisfaction of knowing that people are paying attention to them. Maybe it’s an attention complex that people have so they can feel they are worth something. Once again, I say this: a lot of people are training for other people and not for themselves.
My simple advice is to focus when you are in the gym. Focus on yourself, your exercise order, your intensity, and rest time. Focus on growing. Forget what anyone thinks of you or your goals. Forget about trying to land the big payday. This journey is for you and you only. The pursuit of progress should be the sole reason for you to be in that dark dungeon we call the gym. Trust me, if you focus on self-improvement and pursue your physique with relentless, balls-to-the-wall training, eventually those cameras will show up and those contracts will be signed. Then you’ll be able to look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I never sold out and I did this shit for myself.”