This is quite a long post but it’s important so please read it and hopefully learn from it. It’s addresses body shaming and gym shaming and contains an anecdote that you might like from when I was just a skinny beginner.
There seems to be more of this “shaming” nonsense about than ever lately and I just do not know why but it really annoys me. I mean, it stands to reason that if more people than ever are working out and eating clean then surely more people than ever must be spreading positivity about the lifestyle and more people must be telling their out of shape friends that they can help them look better, be healthier, live longer and feel happier. Also, as there are so many PT’s about these days, all of whom rely on clients working out with them to pay their wages, surely they would be spreading happiness and positivity in all of the gyms and be vigilant enough to stop the shamers? After all, I can’t imagine any of these PT’s making any money by telling people that they look like crap or by posting unflattering pictures of clients on social media, so clearly they should stop others from doing it too.
However, I do have a theory as to why some nasty people do this “shaming” thing and it all comes down to a couple of the most common things in the fitness industry today. One is of course jealousy and the people that always think that they know best. Believe me there are a lot of people who will tell you to your face how great you are and then pray that you don’t do well in your show just because they don’t have anything like the intestinal fortitude to do what you’re doing. My coach Edward Abbew used to make me train in a baggy T shirt during show prep, when I asked why he said “because it’s none of their business what you look like and I don’t want you to hear their stupid opinions”. He may have used the F word a few times too…..possibly. It’s something that I quickly adopted for people that I coach and not just during show prep, I learned from the master and I’m proud to say that I did.
The other thing is the ever increasing problem of peoples egos. Honestly I’ve seen some people who are not even real bodybuilders posting things denigrating newbies and wannabees who are making basic errors but are trying their damndest and just need some guidance. The idiotic shamers do this to make themselves feel superior when in fact they are just making themselves look like assholes. My message to these people is simply this, if you can’t be a good enough person to help those in need then just ignore them. How many times did your Mum tell you “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all? Well it’s the same principle. Right?!
My message to the newbies and wannabees might seem surprising but has always been the same and is based on my own experiences. Go to a proper gym, not a “lycra fashion leisure centre” and train among people that are good and successful at what they do. It might seem a frightening thing to attempt but I can say now with complete confidence that if you do this you will never ever look back. Seriously, if you need help and you’re surrounded by people that take their training seriously then they will do all that they can to help you do the same. I started exercising at the age of 13 and I’ve met a lot of bodybuilders and trained in a lot of gyms all over the world over the last forty five years, some when I was boxing but most of them when I was just a newbie / wannabee bodybuilder and I assure you that it’s only the real gyms that I have ever enjoyed training in and wanted to go back to. Here’s a true story from over thirty years ago to prove my point.
It was in the 80’s, I was still boxing but was curious about bodybuilding. I was working near Triangle Gym in Palmers Green, North London. I don’t know if it’s still there now, it’s probably a Coffee house or something these days but in those days it was a hardcore gym that produced some great bodybuilders. At the time I was 6ft 3ins tall and about 175 pounds as that was my boxing weight, so by today’s standards I looked like a tall skinny rake. Undaunted, I managed to find a flat bench and a barbell that nobody was using. I put on some weight but was far too confident to put on any collars. On about the eighth rep I lost control of the bar, it went one way then the other, dropping the plates as it went. One side was clear but on the other side the plate landed within inches of the biggest guy in the gym and fell against his leg. Thinking that I would need all of my boxing skills, a crowbar or divine intervention I jumped up and looked at the guy, I tried to speak but nothing came out. He just smiled, started reloading the bar and said “here you go, we’ll put some collars on this time and also I’ll give you a spot”. It was a life changing moment for me, here was someone twice my size taking time out of his workout to help some skinny boy who had never been in his gym before. From that moment on I knew that I wanted to be the person that he was someday. These days, although I doubt that I’m as big now as he was then, I am proud to be that person. I help whoever wants my help, I am being the person that I needed when I was at that stage of my training and it is a great feeling. When I got into bodybuilding proper I was lucky enough to be guided by people like Barry Lockwood and Ian Dowe, I will always be forever grateful for their help which they gave freely and willingly.
Is it too much to ask that in this day and age everyone should be like that? If the people that you train with really are your “iron brothers and sisters” then shouldn’t you look after them like a big brother or sister would?
© Kevan Wilson 2017
Categories: Kevan Wilson