by Christian Duque
Some of the best topics, just come to me. There’s articles that are largely based on checking the places where bodybuilding news is disseminated (e.g. message boards, Youtube, and social media), but sometimes really good stories just have a way of falling into your lap. Just last night I was doing an IronMag Labs IG Live, when just thinking out loud, I arrived at the perfect topic for a working story I had on my desk.
If you’re a journalist – or know of any – there’s always at least one or two great ideas, that simply just require some kind of a bigger picture moment, to flesh out the finer details, and you’re off to the races. In today’s article I want to discuss what can only be described as an old school approach in a highly digital, tech-dominated world. We’ve all heard of athletes taking their physiques old school – a rejection of the freaky mass monster look, the loss of lines and deep cuts, and a stark departure from bold value placed on symmetry. The widespread rejection was so pronounced, that answering the competitors wishes, the Classic Men’s Physique Division was introduced. I’d also argue that Women’s Physique answered this call as well. Both divisions still represent the more muscular walks of life, while paying tribute to the days when aesthetics mattered most.
Still, others are pushing the card even beyond what their physiques look like. They’re also going old school in the way they think – especially insofar as how they look at social media.There’s very few people who do as much contest coverage as much as I do, but that point aside, I feel very confident in saying that I have a pretty consistent interaction with competitors in a variety of states and regions throughout the country. When my interviews are coming to a close, i always like to give the competitors the opportunity to share their social media and/or websites; it’s a great way to offer viewers a way to keep in contact with the athletes they look up to. Interestingly, a growing number of younger athletes, from local amateurs (even new pro’s) don’t have social media. Why is that?
I think a lot of people today, would answer the question being presented, as simply one of knowledge. For the vast majority who aren’t just on social media, but are basically glued to it, knowledge would probably be the only reasonable explanation. They’d argue that whoever isn’t on Instagram, doesn’t use Facebook, and/or doesn’t do videos, selfies, and/or post in message boards, don’t do so, simply because they don’t know how to. But what if I told you, these people know good and well how to, but they reject social media? What if I told you, these folks didn’t like to pose in front of mirrors at the gym, to be publicly admired (or as is more often the case, ridiculed behind their backs). There are more people taking a page from the book of guys like Bob Paris, who trained in over sized sweats, covering his entire physique, than arriving at the gym in a bodybuilding tank and shorts so short they’d give Richard Simmons a run for his money.
There’s a growing number of old school guys and gals, who grew up with social media, but who refuse to use it for their fitness journey. They may still be active on social for other parts of their lives, but they simply aren’t looking for that sense of validation and that constant show of praise that comes with big followings, tons of hits, and being the talk of the town, when it comes to their bodybuilding journeys. These athletes are also not looking for sponsorships, at least not in the conventional way. If companies want to sponsor them, great, but they’re not actively pursuing offers by putting themselves out for all to see on social media. They might email their bios, make contacts, but their way of approaching a company differs vastly from the way of today.
So, is this a good model? Do I prefer this way of thinking? Can I relate to it at all? No, this not a model in line with growing a brand or being successful in the industry, today. Do I like this way of thinking – not so much. Can I relate? Well, considering that one of my passions is using fitness to inspire people and that I think social media is a great way to do that, I can’t exactly say I relate to anyone rejecting its core purpose(s); however, this article about what I think, rather, it’s about what a growing number of today’s competitors feel. With regards to their reasoning, I can totally get why this old school wave thinks and acts as it does. Besides, social media has been pushed to the extremes in many regards, and not entirely in a good direction.
How many times have we seen an athlete totally reinvent him/herself using filters, playing with lights/shadows, and strategically posing in very favorable angles. I’ve literally been impressed with people with a five star physique on selfies, stories, and posts, only to see them in person and do a double take. It’s like making a Motel 6 room look like a suite at the Waldorf Astoria. Social media has also been used to do an awful lot of smack talk, hype, and just rant after rant of hot air. Most of the people who spend tons and tons of time making these posts on their phones, could just as well throw some headphones on and be training, meal-prepping, and/or perfecting their posing. There’s a very real time management crisis with many who don’t simply use social media to pursue their goals, but who instead, are addicted to the self-promotion and addicted to the drama which social media includes.
The next time you watch an interview or simply talk to a competitor whose physique or attitude inspires you, don’t be totally surprised, if when you ask them for their social media – they don’t have any. Trust me, it’s not that they don’t want to interact with you, it’s that they’re old school, and they may simply not have the time to sit around moving their fingers over a cell phone’s keypad. There’s people who want to live the life, the bodybuilding life, in person. They’re not interested in living it from behind a computer screen or on a social media app.
I hope you enjoyed reading my article, here at Iron Magazine. I look forward to reading your comments.