I know I take a lot of risk by writing this. I realize it could black list me from ever doing anything in the industry again. It could potentially piss off a lot of people that feel very differently… It’s just a risk I am willing to take.
Being immersed in the fitness industry has been a blessing and a curse. I have been incredibly fortunate to have met some amazing people with inspiring stories and a true purpose. I have had the distinct pleasure of shooting with some of the best photographers and enjoyed the humbling honor of being on a couple prestigious magazine covers; an accomplishment I will always be proud of.
However, the more I have come to know this industry, the more it lets me down. The “fitness” industry has never been so far from “fit” than it is now. It is laden with unhealthy practices, enhancements (both supplemental and physical), and it stands to promote such a vain message that separates rather than supports. I feel the world of competitions is the main issue. Although there is great benefit to the sport for some, there is also great risk. Competing can be very rewarding if you remember why you set out to achieve those goals. If you adhere to the fact the sport should be a practice of being the best of yourself and achieving optimal health and fitness, then you are on the right track. But if you begin to adhere to the practice of competing just for the sake of winning, sizing yourself against others, taking photos and calling it “modeling” (even when they often aren’t paid); you are headed for a downward spiral. It no longer is about chasing a goal, you begin to chase a ghost. Once you get sucked in for the wrong reasons, it’s near impossible to see past that world; a world that segregates you from other meaningful relationships. A world so vain you cannot see past yourself and your self-serving desires. A world that once you experience the real stuff in life, you will realize it’s a world not worth living in – at least as it stands now.
But before I upset anyone or sound hypocritical, I want to clarify some things. I LOVE fitness. I love a lot of people in the fitness industry. I love what they stand for. I observe true balance by watching them juggle their priorities. And of course, in order to live life optimally you must have a fit and healthy lifestyle, especially in a world that is so toxic in general. However, its what’s happened to it and what it has become that strikes a chord.
In the ages of Jack LaLanne when exercise was a phenomenon it didn’t take sex, lingerie, steroids, and over sexed imagery to sell a product or a service. It was about getting healthy and living a long and meaningful life. A life where you could encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. Now, in many cases not all, it’s a life where friends and relationships break up over it because one cannot understand the other and the one immersed in it cannot see past themselves. The industry as it is today is to blame. They market their products by using enormous bodybuilders and women with oversized breasts with their rear-end in the air. Because of this, there is more and more of a demand for it and people strive to become like those fitness “idols.” Instead of being a healthy and balanced industry it has become an excessive one.
I know it all too well. I have experienced it to the point where I toed the line far too close for even my own comfort level. I caught myself in an unfulfilling funnel cloud spinning in a direction that could only lead to one’s demise. Thankfully, I never took anything unnatural or did anything to embarrass myself or my loved ones. But, there were times when I felt like “great” was never good enough and I would be overly critical of myself for the wrong reasons. I would be so focused on a personal pursuit that I couldn’t see how far I was from focusing on the people that mean the most to me. It was then that I realized I was not adhering to my own mission as to why I set out in the industry to begin with; to use vanity against itself. My mission was simply to work out and see results. It was to be lean rather than be healthy. For a brief moment I left all else behind, but thankfully I woke up. You must find the balance in this industry to really experience it for what it truly should stand for. I encourage everyone to pursue it for the betterment of themselves, their family and the precious time you spend with them.
And now I sit here a head and shoulders ahead of my previous self. I am happily married now with the blessing of a baby on the way and I realize that even though health and fitness is a major part of my life, it is not and never will be the only part of my life. My faith and my family are always at the top of my list, being healthy with them and for them is essential. But gone are the days when all that mattered was the pursuit of perfection in the eyes of this vain world. And although I will always eat healthy, lift weights, do my cardio, and get adequate rest; I will first pray, love my family, make time for them, laugh with friends, let my hair down, and enjoy dessert! Without that, life is a road to nowhere on a revolving belt; life on a treadmill.