Bodybuilding is a great sport and so is the goal and mission of achieving a great body. Both hobbies and interests have positive benefits, most of all being health and strength. Physical fitness is a paramount resource on the journey of one’s life of success and quality. In my first original book, “Natural Fitness for the 21st Century” (2003), it talks about how the fitness industry has fallen victim to gimmicks, fads, false advertising, and deception. Where everyone wants the “quick fix”, false promises and detrimental supplements and products reign supreme. While all of these are misleading, none of them are as notorious as steroids.
Fitness encapsulates a wide range of compartments, or sections, from health clubs corporations, small mom and pop gyms to bodybuilding stages, supplements, and fitness modeling. This is what makes it very exciting and the limitless possibilities there to enjoy the accomplishments and reaching of one’s goals. However, a shadow is still present in the midst of such excitement, and that shadow comes in the form of steroids.
We know why people cheat. In fact, many people actually empathize nowadays with cheaters. They pinpoint the motivation and cause for someone to resort to cheating, and they come to the conclusion, “I don’t blame them. I would do it too if I was competing at that level” or “everyone else is doing it so it is the only way to compete”. While this may be so, and they may have a point, it doesn’t make it right, and this analysis ignores the totality of the ramifications and harm cheating has on many peoples’ lives.
Let’s turn back the clock for a second and roll back time to the point where steroids and cheating hit the market, which ironically is also where the fitness industry began to boom and become popular and widespread. In this way, it is not much different than the steroid era of baseball: when ballplayers turned into gigantic monsters smashing titanic homeruns, baseball’s popularity spread, but so did the destruction of the integrity of the game. This all occurred during the mid-20th century, roughly between 1950 and 1980. Before this time, fitness and healthy living as a sport and lifestyle only catered to a small segment of the population, and most fitness magazine covers were graced by all-natural bodies and physiques, which surprisingly can still compete and arguably even win in a battle of the bodies today which are enhanced by anabolic drugs.
From here, the competitive bodybuilding industry as a sport picked up gradually and soon prizes and monetary awards were being rendered to fitness pageant contestants. Naturally, many aspiring champions and athletes saw an opportunity and gravitated to the idea of success and fame. With more and more competitors entering the contests and going on stage, the competition thickened, and as is the case with all sports, any way of winning or gaining the edge was sought. This is likely where the introduction of anabolic steroids originated. It is also where it originated in other sports as well.
What’s interesting is that despite the negative rap steroids have publicly gained through the years, it hasn’t prevented bodybuilders, fitness competitors, or fitness magazine models from using them. People are still captivated by an artificially enhanced physique, even though they know that it is artificially enhanced. Even more surprising is that many people will buy the products and supplements these people are advertising even though there must be some kind of inclination in their minds that the products will not make them look the way the model does, and in fact the model is really taking anabolic drugs to look the way they do. When the said people buy the supplement or fat ripping product, which may be harmful itself, though legal, they will soon find out that it will not make them appear like the model in the advertisement, hence the concept of false advertising.
Philosophically, here is where the ultimate problem resides: An industry is a business, and in case anyone doesn’t know, all businesses compete for business. Business, whether one likes it or not, is a competition, and if one does not know that, they will soon find out when entering the market. Therefore, people and companies will cheat, lie, and deceive to win; they will do anything they can to get an edge. While this is understandable from a basic standpoint, it has many negative consequences on the industry as a whole. When you go out to eat at a restaurant, you want to know which place has the “best” food, and you will go to that particular restaurant. Competition is as natural as breathing in the business world, even though to many people it falls subtle. Whether we know it or not, we are in search of the “best” when we are deciding where to spend our money.
With this being the case, this is where many fitness businesses and companies begin the deception game. They want you to believe that this model advertising their supplement is real when in fact they are artificially enhanced and on steroids, the bodybuilder on stage wants you to believe that they have the best natural body when in fact they have taken stacks of drugs to obtain the lean fatless physique and solid muscles compared to the truly natural competitor who although they may not be as perfect as the drug-enhanced one is still very impressive (they will lose, and thus the true winner will never be known), the equipment or product they are selling will cause one to gain this incredible body their model has when in fact the model is taking illegal fat rippers and anabolic steroids. Thus, they cast a cloud over the industry, and in doing so they are actually creating a false reality that unfortunately people are buying.
Do they care? Probably not. As long as they win, gain their fame, and put money in their pockets they don’t find anything ethically wrong with it. Once again, they can justify it in their own minds by claiming “Everyone is cheating and doing it”, even though they’re not. Also, not everyone believes in a code of ethics and has a moral compass with regards to such matters. Theoretically, what has happened as a result is that gradually the fitness industry and bodybuilding industries have created an isolated empire, where only those who use steroids and drugs can enter, and the rest of the world and people are just viewers, members of the audiences, not much different than fans in the stands at a baseball game, except baseball has at least somewhat attempted to clean up the mess steroids created.
One might ask why this matters. One might buy the argument that everyone is doing it and it doesn’t affect them so why should they care?
First, as a fan or aspiring competitor or fitness person, you will never know who the real winner is. You will never know who deserves your respect. You will never know who the real true champion is. What is the point of creating fun, sporty competitions if you never know who the real victor is? You can say all competitors deserve respect, but do they if they are all artificially enhanced and taking illegal anabolic drugs? If a body is artificially and illegally obtained, then is that really the body that deserves to be featured in selling and promoting supplements, which mind you are often times harmful in themselves?
Secondly, as a result of this, tragically the true heroes and winners are never known, quickly forgotten, and deemed failures in comparison to the “winners” of such competitions, when in fact, in actuality they are the ones who deserve the most praise for maintaining integrity, their code of ethics, and competing fairly, properly, and right. Good behavior here goes unrewarded, unpraised, and this further exacerbates the problem as sometimes these natural competitors, fitness people, and bodybuilders convince themselves they have no choice but to use steroids and harmful supplements and drugs if they are to compete.
Third, the false advertising of the products, from supplements to equipment to diets, with the use of artificially enhanced models and fitness people produces false advertising and an unrealistic portrayal of the benefits of said products. Would the customer have really have purchased that supplement, that product, that equipment if it wasn’t being promoted, advertised, and sold by a perfectly artificially enhanced bodybuilder or fitness model who is really taking steroids or drugs? The whole persuasion of such products is that if the consumer buys it and uses it, they will end up looking like the person who is advertising it. Everyone knows that this is not the case ninety-nine percent of the time. In addition, let’s face it- most of these pieces of equipment and machines go on to collect dust, and most of these supplements don’t work, and they definitely don’t work in the long run.
Fourth, the cheating success of a few individuals destroys the deserved success of the many non-cheating individuals, who in many ways go on to be deemed the failures in competitions since they did not take home the prize or monetary gain. Is this actually true in reality? It’s not. In fact, the cheaters are the real failures because they lack integrity and honesty and they have stolen the victory from a deserving honest candidate.
There was a time when society admired, respected, and valued virtues like honesty, hard work, integrity, and truth. Today, it appears as though winning at all costs is more valued than these admirable character traits. That’s a shame because it shows how degenerative society has become. It is only fooling itself. The more such behavior goes rewarded and unpunished and the more good behavior goes unrewarded and believe it or not, pitied, the more the prevalence of such behavior will permeate throughout society until it reaches home. While some people believe in the free market and don’t feel such things affect them, anyone with dignity doesn’t like being sold something that isn’t real and doesn’t work. They don’t like others to pull a fast one on them and convince them of something true that is not.
Perhaps such superficiality is here to stay, or perhaps society will wake up and decide to long for the years of that truth, honesty, and integrity when the winners were the true winners, not coming up short due to competing with frauds, imposters, phonies, and cheaters. The golden age of fitness and bodybuilding that existed in the 1920s-1950s is over, and we are still now living in the steroid era where anyone who has the audacity to lie and cheat can enter, win, and claim glory. Shame be it as it may. It discourages so many people from anteing up and pursuing a life of good health and supreme physical fitness. If there is no reward, and the cheaters control the industry, then what is the point? The good cause of the industry has been “hijacked” by the frauds, cheaters, and imposters and has been pawned off as just another superficial entertainment industry, when in fact, health and fitness was ultimately meant to be so much more, and so much more for everyone.