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Bodybuilding - Nathan Farleyg

Any ambassador for any sport will most likely logically argue that their chosen path will provide its participants with the greatest rewards, life lessons or social experiences. Arguments will range as to who the greatest athlete of all time is, how physically demanding each sport is comparatively and how best to perform at your chosen athletic pursuit.

To me, bodybuilding is the greatest sport in existence. Taken on face value, you walk into a building and choose the heaviest object you can lift. You then pick it up and move it as many times as you can and then proceed to place it back exactly where you found it. On face value, it's nonsensical and slightly insane. But many sports would follow a similar formula. Swimming, to me, is actually insane. Waking up super early and throwing yourself into an ice-cold pool and speaking to no one for an extended period of time, only to emerge exactly where you first jumped in doesn't seem logical either. It always struck me that if you wanted to get somewhere, swimming is the least practical way to get there. Perhaps I'm just bitter because I never passed Level Three.

Sports allow us to improve physically, cope with our emotions appropriately, foster camaraderie with our teammates and socialise with others of like-mind. Sports can ultimately help us to become better equipped to deal with life's many challenges. It saddens me to think of the many opportunities for growth that people miss out on because they choose not to be physically active. And it's a real shame that gyms aren't more welcoming and friendly places, because I firmly believe that bodybuilding is the greatest vehicle for personal excellence that one can drive.

As I've mentioned, bodybuilding is a peculiar sport that is much maligned and stereotyped. It is here that I must define the difference between bodybuilding and weight training. Bodybuilding is the dedication to the complete development of all the muscles in the body for the aesthetic look of proportion and symmetry. Weight training is the lifting of weights. Misconceptions abound and hurtful remarks about competitors are so casually tossed around that people who do take part in the sport have learned to harden themselves against such criticism, often to the point of appearing arrogant or conceited in general society. My heart goes out to female participants in particular, the shame they are supposed to feel for loving a sport can often outweigh the motivation for loving in the first place. My point is that bodybuilding is still struggling to be a socially acceptable pursuit, one of the reasons I love it.

Bodybuilding is also accused of being highly ego-driven. People who feel this couldn't be further from the truth. Bodybuilding is complete denial of the ego and subservience to humility. Ego stops growth. Ego harms the mind and consequently the body. Perhaps it is the mirrors and the flexing that give bodybuilding this persona. Put simply, the mirror is the best indication of progress and of growth. When a bodybuilder looks into a mirror, it is not to admire. It is to critique. A bodybuilder is thinking 'I need more outer sweep in my quad' or 'My upper chest needs more thickness' or 'My calves need more mass to match my biceps'. It is an utterly self-deprecating experience, generally speaking. Just as a runner uses a stopwatch, a bodybuilder uses a mirror.

Sadly, commercial gyms currently are very intimidating and largely unfriendly places for the average person. The zeitgeist unfortunately dictates that people who are serious about their bodybuilding training have to seek refuge away from the distractions of commercial gyms. This has always been the case for bodybuilders. Historically speaking, bodybuilders lock themselves away in dark and gritty places and train in anonymity only to emerge at competition time. Then it's back to the gym to work on the weak points in preparation for the next competition season. Commercial gyms are too distracting, too busy and too full of ego and arrogance for any serious weight lifter to get their training done in a decent time frame.

Bodybuilding punishes youth. Whereas most sports reward an athlete for being young, bodybuilding demands years of hard and heavy training. There's just no way around it, it takes time to develop a physique. Bodybuilding is not for the impatient and forces athletes to toil away for years to achieve any lasting personal success. This is true of life. Everything takes time. Building a career in a profession takes years, building a quality relationship takes years. Building a physique is no different. Sure, there are ways to get there faster if you're intelligent and reflective. But as the old adage goes, nothing worth having is easy. And to adapt a quote largely attributed to Lady Gaga - an odd choice for a bodybuilding blog the gym is never going to wake up one morning and decide that it doesn't love you. The weights will always be there. I think this is something that innately attracts many people to bodybuilding. The thought that what you put in is directly proportional to what you get in return is reassuring; there are no secrets or shortcuts. The formula is a positive outlook, healthy eating, proper sleep and hard work. Many of our problems can be simplified by following simple protocols.

Stepping on stage is a daunting, yet wonderful thing. This is not the end goal for many who pursue bodybuilding, and that's just fine. Perseverance, goal-setting, hard work, excellence and humility are the trademarks of any bodybuilder. Couple this with the fact that anyone can, in fact, partake in bodybuilding make it the greatest sport in my opinion. Some of the most important life lessons can be learned through applying the principles of bodybuilding. That's not to say that all life's problems can be solved, but I know that I'm in a much better headspace due to the lessons that bodybuilding is instilling in me.

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