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That Guy

Every gym has one; many have two or three or even more. In some instances he is admirable, but in many others it’s a crying shame. He bust his butt in the gym every single day; his diet is perfect, he is more knowledgeable than most on every aspect, on every level when it comes to the muscle game. He may be a jerk, but there is a good chance he’s a nice guy and he is often willing to lend a helping hand to anyone who is on the same quest as he. There’s a good chance he’s stood on stage at least a time or two, there’s a good chance he’s taken some nice hardware with him from these shows. This guy is a living breathing bodybuilder, but that’s it; beyond that there is nothing more and that is a problem -- and it is one many of us come face-to-face with at some point in our lives and decisions have to be made.

That guyhas spent every dime he has on his pursuit, every ounce of energy as well. He has very few friends in the true sense of the word; he’s alienated himself from most in society. His job -- his job is lifting, yet no one pays him for it. He probably has some other job as well, but it exists only to pay for his next batch of protein powder. His home is often quite empty with a little more than a mattress on the floor and some old bodybuilding magazines scattered about, but you can bet your life his refrigerator is full to the brim!

How old is this guy? That depends, he may be a fresh face, but there is a good chance the guy in your gym and has for more than 20 years. He is still doing exactly what he was doing when he was. Nothing has changed. He will never turn pro, he will never make a living from pumping iron -- and quite honestly it’s a shame.

Bodybuilding/lifting is one of the greatest things in the world! It’s also one of the most addicting. Ask anyone who’s been around for some time and they’ll flat out tell you it’s more addicting than any drug. It’s not simply what you create within your own body; it’s the feelings you create as well -- the surging muscle pumps, the pride you get from new personal best, the drive it instills within you is a high within itself.

Bodybuilding is a wonderful part of life, but it should not be the sole focus of one’s life. Most will never turn pro; most will never receive a paycheck that they earn from simply being in the gym. Everyone in life needs balance. They need friends. They need a complete life full of all the joys of life, not just one.

In every sport you hear stories of athletes who came from nothing to get where they are today. Many of them lived hard lives with little more than the clothes on their back. They struggle through and reached the top. Because of this they are admired for their brutal struggle against adversity -- and they should be. They pulled off something very few can do and they did so by hard work and determination. But there comes a time in every man’s life where he must come face to face with reality; and at some point something has to give.

When it comes to most sports, this time of “Awakening” comes when they’ve reached the end of their professional road. In bodybuilding, there is no end, there is no age limit, there is no final resting place, and you can continue until you literally drop dead. In bodybuilding, the “Awakening” has to come from within. It can’t be brought on by some outside influence because bodybuilding is a one-man game.

This is simply about understanding -- understanding that real life and what we want don’t always mix. When it comes to bodybuilding, it is a 24/7 365 job and that’s just the way it is -- that’s the way it is if you’re going to be hardcore. Being a “hardcore” bodybuilder can be a great thing if it is right for you, but not at the expense of the rest of your life. You must have balance!

If you’re in your late teens to early 20’s, this is something you really need to think about. If you love bodybuilding, if you love the hardcore lifestyle, that’s great! You’re part of a very special group with very limited membership. With that in mind it can fuel your drive, but you must not put all your eggs in one basket. You still have your whole life ahead of you, you need to plan for it, build things in your life that will make life more enjoyable. You need goals outside the realm of the gym. You need friends. You need family. You need to prioritize the important things in life. If you do these things, your bodybuilding pursuits will be all the more enjoyable. Many might say they can’t risk their bodybuilding goals and that all their focus must remain in the gym if they are to reach their goal of earning a pro card or even winning a national level show.

Here’s the truth; if you’ve “got it” then you got it. Alienating yourself from society and everything else around you is not going to be what makes the difference. The last thing you want is to wake up twenty years from now and look around and you’re all alone with nothing more than a few gym memories to call your own.

Some who have read these words will scoff at every one of them. They will say things such as “I love bodybuilding and that is all that is important to me.” If so, well that’s fine, you may indeed be able to build a career in this industry. But for your own wellbeing, don’t count solely on becoming a top named pro. Make sure you have a plan. Create options for yourself. There are ways to work within the field you love without standing on the Olympia stage -- and you need to understand this, because the odds are slim you will ever stand on that stage. Granted there may indeed be someone who has read these words that will one day stand where some of the best have, and that’s great! But there is a 99.999% chance that this person is not you.

Make the best of your bodybuilding goals; lift hard, lift heavy, enjoy the lifestyle and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But always understand that life is never about “One Thing.” If you can understand life as a whole, I can promise you that the part of your life that is built around bodybuilding will be all the more enjoyable and worthwhile.

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