and Fitness Role Models?
Ronnie Coleman. Susie Curry. Andrula Blanchette. They were the big
winners in their respective Olympias this year. Are they role models?
Most definitely. I am not one who adheres to the Charles "Im
not a role model" Barkley theory of setting an example and representing
your sport. When a professional athlete signs on the dotted line to
play for pay they have voluntarily thrust themselves into the public
eye. With that choice comes a responsibility to your chosen sport
and those who may look up to you, young or old. But heres a
big difference between bodybuilding and fitness, and any other sport.
You dont have to be a top pro with an endorsement contract to
Think about it. When was the last time you were out in public and
said, "Hey theres that minor league baseball player"
or thought "Isnt that the wide receiver for the 97th ranked
college football team in the country"? But if Sammy Sosa or Dan
Marino happened to be sitting next to you in a restaurant, that would
be a different story. Now lets take a look at bodybuilding and
fitness. If you walk down the street and youre muscularly bigger
than the average or much better conditioned, guess what? You are often
publicly recognized as an athlete in this sport, even if youve
never stepped foot on a contest stage. You wear your sport everyday,
everywhere you go. Like it or not, your body thrusts you into the
public eye, not a huge multi-million dollar contract.
Let me use myself as an example. Im about 5-7 and in the off-season
I go about 205, contest condition in the 180s. Yes, Im
bigger and more conditioned than the average guy, but by no means
huge by bodybuilding standards. Lets put it this way. Ive
trained next to guys like Lee Priest, Flex and Dexter Jackson and,
being very kind to myself, no one would have known I was there! I
am also the type that stays covered year round until they tell my
class to go backstage and get ready. Whether in the gym or at a restaurant,
I dont show a whole lot of skin.
So that brings me to the other day. I was coming out of a brokerage
company a business setting and some guy comes up to me
and comments on my being a bit larger than average and then asks me
about steroids, out of the blue. I of course tell him that I dont
use or sell drugs, thank him for the compliment and get on with the
day. As I drive off I realize that even all covered up, people take
notice of anything out of ordinary. And in a society where the obesity
rate has been on the rise for years, a muscular or conditioned body
But heres the important part that Id really like you to
think about. As you go about your day you are probably being recognized
as a representative of your sport even when you arent really
aware of it. When people approach you and comment or ask a question,
you can choose to create a positive experience or a negative experience
for that person. There are already many negative stereotypes out there
about people with muscles related to aggression and brainpower, so
each interaction is an opportunity to create positive feelings about
your sport. When that guy approached me I had a choice to act arrogant
and aggressive or polite and positive. Thats why I chose to
thank him for the compliment, rather than get into some negative dialogue
about steroids and stereotypes. I also told him, without any judgment
or lecturing, that steroids hadnt been necessary for me to get
this way, and maybe he would find that he didnt need them either.
Who knows, maybe it sunk in, maybe not. But either way, I know one
thing for certain. He could not have walked away from that brief interaction
and thought anything negative about me as a person, or as an athlete.
So, the next time that someone comes up and pays you a sincere compliment
about your body think about the power you have to create positive
impressions, not negative ones. And, of course, as you represent your
sport positively you are, probably more importantly, representing
yourself in a way you can be proud of.