Please Choose Your Fetish

To begin this blog I feel I have to repeat the answer to the question Why bodybuilding? The reasons for my being pro bodybuilding as a total fitness pursuit. If the first part of this blog feels familiar that’s because it is.

In the second part, I give my thoughts on bodybuilding as a fetish as suggested by a university lecturer in a casual(ish) conversation. And yes I did show him this article, in fact, I used an abbreviation as part of a dissertation. Risky! Yes, but it paid off as I got a 1st.

FETISH – an excessive and irrational commitment to a particular thing.

PASSION – an extreme interest in or wish for doing something, such as a hobby, activity, etc.

As usual with a flexarian attitude – ultimately, all said and done, the sweet spot for most of us lies somewhere in between the two extremes as we imagine them to be.

BODYBUILDING – Why Even Bother To Train With Weights And Eat Lots Of Protein In The First Place?

You may be reading this and thinking that exact question. First, let us define bodybuilding for our purposes. Bodybuilding – Any person changing or wishing to change the shape of their body through diet and exercise particularly but not solely using progressive resistance training with weights. This definition covers a huge range of the exercising population from absolute beginner to hardcore competitive athletes. Why? Because all negative connotations aside bodybuilding is the best way to achieve most fitness and body shaping goals. Julie and I trained for over 35 + 45 years respectively without ever thinking of competing until quite recently.

Competitive bodybuilding is an extreme sport.

Competitive bodybuilders are just a very small percentage of the total people using bodybuilding techniques to improve their physiques across the world. There is a level for each individual and one can take the sport as a casual pastime to improve health and fitness or to the most extreme levels. Bodybuilding contains the freedom for you to express your individual uniqueness however you choose. However, bodybuilders have been turned into quite unsavoury objects by our society and my writing explores and explains my search for meaning relating to my life choice of personal bodybuilding (or lifting weights to change body shape – I hate labels).

Male or female working through intense balanced sessions on a regular basis is the optimum way to be fit, healthy and to look amazing (the icing on the cake).

I have trained for well over 40 years to date and I still make gains and improve with a body far younger than the norm. I have had to be flexible and learn but with an open mind and a willingness to experiment with your body, you will never find a better exercise to dedicate your life to than bodybuilding (progressive resistance training). This is factual to the point that most other sports and pastimes are so incomplete they have to add a weights regime to their training routines to improve. I have only to walk and stay active, watch my nutrition and train hard enough to stress my cardio system.

In closing, I would like to state that the best results are achieved by adopting a lifestyle of good feeding, intense training, effective relaxation and recovery and wise supplement use. There are no magic potions but it is the person with the best attention to detail that ultimately succeeds. Not just the person that trains the hardest. There is a myriad of small details behind every good physique and an open mind and willingness to experiment and learn are paramount. Success is to be found in every waking moment outside of the gym.

FETISH – an excessive and irrational commitment to a particular thing.

A fellow lecturer indicated today that he had problems with any sport or pastime that had become a fetish. This set me to thinking. He asked me if I could stop bodybuilding, my exercise choice of shaping my body with weights. My answer initially was, “Why would I?” I see the alternative as far worse than my choice to body-build or train with weights. I don’t think he related bodybuilding with exercise – in his mind, he had separated them out because his choice of exercise was different. His thinking was left brain dominant and he had labelled bodybuilding and was now in conflict with the very thing he had labelled. He was no longer aware of the possibilities of viewing a much bigger picture than his left brain thinking and language would allow.

I would argue that any regular exercise would need to become (or could be seen as) excessive and irrational in order to become a serious sporting endeavour and achieve results.

Does that make it excessive and irrational? I don’t feel it does, and maybe the choice comes down to a choice between a fetish or an out-of-shape body.

The building or shaping one’s body with weights is much maligned because the results are so visible and threatening for whatever reason to others. But due to the lack of physical work in society today, that may be the only way our muscles get to work the way they are designed to work.

Exercise needs to be progressive and reasonably intense to get results. Bodybuilding does need more discipline and better habits than society exercise and dietary norms. Do the norms in order to become norms have to be obsessive and then once considered normal they become immune to the accusation that they in reality are fetish. Albeit – Very popular fetish.

More in tune with his view – I see society as a conflict of fetishes; most of society suffers from a food-and-inactivity fetish. Western dietary practices have long since left the realm of being a matter of survival and needs. Do Western feeding habits show an “irrational and excessive commitment” to food? Does Western culture show an irrational and excessive commitment to television, computer games, labour-saving devices, cars, crash diets, blaming others, excuses, regrets, mobile phones, etc.? The answer is a resounding yes. One only has to open one’s eyes to see this everywhere.

How then does one combat that kind of fetishist society? How may twenty-first-century Homo sapiens stay in shape – the ideal shape set before them in the media – when faced with such pressure? One way is bodybuilding, but the following would not have been how I described my lifestyle: an excessive and irrational commitment to personal responsibility, training, nutrition, reading, and relaxation. If life is a choice of which fetish, I would have no problem arguing my case. I do not really see it as a fetish but rather a passion, but if that is the case, then twenty-first-century life is a choice of fetishes. The difference is, as usual, that all the above-mentioned are socially acceptable and non-threatening to the individual identity, except bodybuilding, which has the ability to make others uncomfortable, due to it not being the norm and raising the possibility that maybe they need to address their physique and fitness a little more.

Fat and unfit is normal, poor nutrition is normal, and being lazy is normal. My God, I don’t want to be normal if that is the way it is going – and that is the way it is going.

Maybe the societal norms are a result of a failure by human beings to look after the bodies they have been gifted. Maybe my life philosophy is a result of resistance to the inevitable alternative lifestyles. I can body-build until the day I die, in one way, shape, or form. I don’t need to retire and find a way to stay in shape before I balloon out of proportion. I don’t need to compete in my Speedos to be a bodybuilder. My choice is a way to stay in shape. Bodybuilding, boosting or shaping, if you prefer, is an exercise option for life.

Incidentally, my personality type would need an equally disciplined, creative outlet to replace bodybuilding. I am 100 per cent passionate about most things that I do. It’s a match made in heaven, a challenge every day. The real question would be passion or fetish – what is the difference? A passionate person could seem just as excessive and irrational about that which they are passionate about in the eyes of others.

I wonder if we don’t actually live in a society that is a fetish society. And it is viewed as negative when it suits the accuser. Again, for the flexarian, it is wise to slide along the spectrum. There are times when a perceived fetish attitude would appear to others. For example, if one were to compete in a physique show the extreme end of the training and feeding spectrum would need to be familiar but having peaked and ticked that box there are many wise sweet spots otherwise to settle into.

FETISH – an excessive and irrational commitment to a particular thing.

PASSION – an extreme interest in or wish for doing something, such as a hobby, activity, etc.

What might others think is your fetish? And can you see fetish in others – when they are committed and passionate about stuff that you don’t really dig. Maybe the most tragically worn out and constantly betrayed saying – “live and let live” (within the laws of the land) needs to be given more thought and not just yapped without living up to the words. Words are the domain of the left brain.

I am pushing 60 in this picture – 45 years of bodybuilding and a healthy attitude are the reason for my condition. I work my mind as hard as I work my body. There are no secrets and shortcuts invariably backfire.


Adams Books here