Bodybuilding has been around for many generations. When it first began it was sort of an odd hobby or practice that very few people were involved in. As the decades passed, the sport of bodybuilding came into its own and began gaining a fan base. Just like all the other sports, it had its ups and downs when it came to the use of drugs and foul play.
One of the major differences between other sports and bodybuilding was that bodybuilding was what you saw and not what you do. So it was rapidly criticized for drug use and treated more like a freak show than a sport. At one time there was an attempt to make it a category in the Olympics but was denied. I believe it was mostly due to the apparent drug use (not like the other sports don’t use drugs) and that it was not a widespread popular sport.
Today, bodybuilding has taken a big blow and has once again been criticized for the apparent drug use. One new addition to the sport has been the Men’s Physique and Women’s Bikini categories which has spawned a new generation of fitness fanatics. People today want to be fit and in shape without the grotesque, freaky monster size from decades ago.
There is a lot of controversy over now what is referred to as natty and people on gear. On one hand you have your Mr. Olympia competitors who are a blast from the past and your Men’s Physique Olympians who seem to be dominating the bodybuilding world. And then you have the bodybuilding enthusiast. There is a big conflict with what is acceptable and what is reality when it comes to being a star in the pro bodybuilding world.
The bodybuilding enthusiast seem to be inspired by the pro athletes but are also against drug use when it comes to competing and getting in shape. I, myself have been a bodybuilder for quite some time and have always understood the differences between natural bodybuilding and the professional arena of bodybuilding. I knew from the beginning when I began competing that it would be impossible to compete on an Olympia stage without doing what is needed – in other words, joining the pack. This is mostly due to me knowing the history of the sport and reading muscle magazines as an 8 year old well into mid life.
Most fitness enthusiasts today are in the dark when it comes to the reality of what professional sports in general entail. Most professional athletes in every sport at some time or another are not natural. As a matter of fact, in the early 80’s enhancement drugs were not illegal in the US as well as abroad. Bigger, Stronger, Faster filmmaker Chris Bell really explained the whole world of drug use not only in bodybuilding but all sports and how drugs in general were demonized by the courts in the early 80’s.
The first thing you should be asking yourself when you get into bodybuilding is what is my long term goal and why am I doing it? I, myself grew up watching the Incredible Hulk, Conan the Barbarian, and even drew many muscle men figures right out of the magazines. I always enjoyed weight training and building muscle because I was a natural ectomorph and wanted to put size on, just like the majority of young guys today.
In my early 20’s I was encouraged to compete by close friends who were already competitors but I always knew what I wanted to get out of the sport. It was just a hobby for me and even though I was sponsored by a major natural bodybuilding organization and offered money to do what other pro bodybuilders were doing to achieve success, I declined. Many competitors today struggle with what they want to achieve and are bitter when beaten out by their drug using counterparts. This never bothered me. I was always confident with my abilities and understood the realm I was entering.
Is natural bodybuilding a waste of time? No, not if you truly enjoy sculpting your own physique and competing on stage. After all, bodybuilding is about producing the best of yourself and not worrying about the next guy or girl. Does this mean you can’t make money by being natural? No. Making money has nothing to do with taking drugs or being natural. It’s how you approach the business aspect of fitness in general. Are you going to be offered major contracts by the biggest supplement companies in the world? Probably not if you’re natural, but then again I know many bodybuilders on lots of drugs who have nothing.
So the main thing to remember is to stay true to yourself and not sell out for money, fame or anything else because bodybuilding trends change like clothing styles. What’s here today could be gone tomorrow and you could be left with all the financial and health problems and no one could care less. Women’s bodybuilding is a good example of what happens when you subject yourself to what the machine demands.
Shawn Ray, although hated by many, had a very strong mind and understood this, doing only what he wanted to do and nothing more. He never took home the Sandow but he didn’t sacrifice all of himself to his own end unlike others have.
If you love bodybuilding then do it for yourself, no matter what arena you decide to step in. And that’s all I have to say about that.