Ego: defined as a person’s self-importance.
No other sentence represents the fitness industry more than the one above. Ego can be a good thing. It drives us towards the things we want in life; gives us purpose. It also can be just as detrimental. Ego consumes, engrosses, dominates, and perpetuates any thought we may have if desired enough. Negative ego can be thought of as one word and not two separate entities. Negative does not define ego, and ego does not define negative. Ego can be good, but in the fitness industry it has monopolized our consciousness.
Wow, talk about hyperboles huh? You might think all of that is being a little over dramatic, but it’s really not. Egos have run amuck in this world we all love (not the physical earth, the fitness world).
I was listening to a popular bodybuilding podcast last week as I always do when I’m in the car. For bodybuilders being gigantic men there sure is a lot of emotional attachment (read: insecurity) to certain things. Coaches bashing other coaches. People trying to take sides that two months ago they wouldn’t have. It’s truly insane.
Listen, we all know the industry is big business. The big business feeds down to the little business and everyone wants their part of it. I get it, I really do. So, if putting someone down to get yours is what you feel is necessary, that’s on you. Is that not what the issue at hand is here though? Why can’t your product be better than the next person’s and that’s what makes you better than them? Not dragging them through the mud to make yourselves look better. This is not the 2016 presidential election we are talking about. We should not have to choose whose side we are on based on who has fewer negatives.
Remember in Pumping Iron when Arnold is training with Franco or any of the other top bodybuilders? That was cool. It was a brotherhood that was unique to anything anyone had ever seen. Guys that all had the same passion chasing their goals competitively with one another. Even Arnold and Ferrigno had playful banter, but it was not as vindictive and cold as the things we see today.
Maybe the internet is to blame. Social media has consumed much of what we do, especially in this industry. To be relevant you have to be present in the eyes of your audience, which for 90 percent of the world now is through social media. Relevance is dictated on the idea that we must differentiate from others. We do this by bashing other people doing the same things we are doing?
I understand it a little more from the supplement companies’ perspective. You can justify why this pre-workout is better than the next, because the ingredient profile is better. You can clearly say “our pre-workout beats ‘x’ pre workout because we have more ‘x’ ingredient per serving.”
Going back to the podcast, they were bashing a particular prep coach because he had decided to post more things he was grateful for. This coach was thanking the people that brought him to where he is at in his career so he tagged those people in his post. This was taken as a business move to increase visibility of the post. Whether this was the case or not, on the surface it’s almost impossible to decipher anything out of it than what it was: a post that was showing graciousness.
Have we all become so cold, apathetic, and phlegmatic that we cannot trust something for what it is? Innocent until proven guilty is the notion that I thought we all lived by (at least in the U.S.). Now we are taking it and flipping it on its head and saying everyone is guilty until proven innocent.
Hell, I am not even saying that my opinion is right, maybe I am just naïve. Maybe everyone is as evil and monetary driven as what people say they are. What my thought is here is why do we have to voice that? Sure, if people are getting screwed over that needs to be brought to light. But interpreting things in your own way without any context? That seems silly and immature.
What’s the point I am trying to get to here? What many of us do is weird, stigmatic, and goes against social norms and expectations. Look, bodybuilding is a very unique endeavor. We choose to suffer, look a certain way, and rid ourselves of a social life. It’s very cult-like; meaning that those that follow the lifestyle really follow the lifestyle. It’s the only unique social construct that is not united. Art nerds, pot heads, rock music enthusiasts; all of these groups band together and gravitate towards one another. I just don’t understand why as a fitness community we need to put each other down the way so many do.
Now I am going to somewhat contradict myself in saying that there is a difference between having respect for one another and kissing ass. It’s weird to see NBA players hanging out in the offseason. It’s weird to see fighters hug after beating the shit out of one another. There is a big difference between having respect and being non-competitive.
I am all for competitiveness; I encourage it. I miss rivalries within the sport like Ronnie and Jay. However, these are competitions that take place on the stage. That’s entirely different from the point I am trying to make here. I think it’s a societal issue, in that we no longer can accept things for how they are said. There is always a subliminal tone or message to everything being said.
We need to take a long hard look at where we are at in the fitness industry. I love bodybuilding and I love living this lifestyle. What’s going to be best for this industry to keep moving forward: continuing to bash one another until there is no credibility left, or becoming more respectful and united in what we do? At the end of the day it’s on us, so where do you stand?
- Daniel Henigsmith