The Arnold’s Sports Festival was the third and biggest fitness expo that I have worked at. Some of the most famous fitness personalities fly from all over the world to be in attendance for a weekend of signing autographs, taking selfies, talking to fans, flexing their biceps, training and meeting like-minded fitness fanatics.
A few years ago, heck, even 18 months ago this would have been a dream come true for me, to work at such a prestigious event where some of my biggest inspirations and most well-known people in the industry were working under the same roof. Don’t get me wrong, it was an absolute privilege and I could not have asked for a better team than those at the ANS Performance booth. They are some of the most genuine, real & down to earth people I have met in the industry and I’m so thankful to be a part of such an amazing team that supports my chosen lifestyle.
Traditionally, people who work at fitness expos look like they’ve just walked out of a Muscle & Fitness magazine cover or off the stage and evidently I’m not lean, I’m not hard, I’m not striated and I’m not a competitor any more.
Leading up to the weekend I was anxious, nervous, apprehensive & really having a lot of trouble with my self-confidence. I don’t consider myself to be in the industry anymore and my lifestyle has changed significantly since the first expo I worked at where I was chiseled. I knew the place would be overflowing with people who were competition lean and I didn’t want to be the corpulent one who looked entirely out of place. In turn, this lead me down a path that was all too familiar of wanting to restrict and over exercise, but that’s a story for another day.
On my first day working at the expo I was extremely hesitant to wear a crop top or any item of clothing that bared any skin due to my lack of a six pack. I wanted to cover myself as much as I could to ensure I didn’t feel too inadequate and like an imposer in the presence of these fitness models.
I stood at the booth simply people watching the masses of crowds that flowed past me and to be entirely honest, I started to really not give a flying fuck about the way I looked. In fact, I started to feel this warm fuzzy feeling of contentment within myself.
You see, the fitness industry is fake. Quite literally, everything and almost everyone is fake in some way. Fake tan, hair extensions, fake eyelashes, fake tits, caked on makeup, nails done, lip injections, steroids, and peroxide dyed hair. Now, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with the above, I’m planning on getting a pair of my own fake boobs at some point in time and I rarely leave the house without makeup and my nails done but to the extent that the majority of people within the industry have these add-ons is somewhat comical.
You would think that because we’re at a fitness expo it would be centered around fitness and not a strip show, but unfortunately, that’s what the industry is like. Males in tiny stringers that show full on nipple so everyone can see that they clearly lift, girls in nike heels (fashion disaster in itself) dressed like they’ve just hopped off the pole, and this degrading perception that because girls are in tiny clothes showing midriff and have their tits up to their chin, that it’s an invitation for males to treat them like an object.
Unfortunately, this isn’t even an exaggeration. I walked around the festival with my partner and we were both rather embarrassed that once upon a time we had been in the midst of it all and actually enjoyed it. I used to want to look like that. I used to live and breathe this and would have quite literally done anything to be in the position that I was in on the weekend. But now, looking around, I felt like I was in a zoo. Big-headed, half naked people permeated my bubble and I couldn’t get out of there quick enough.
My mind has changed, my life has changed, my goals have changed and my whole perception has quite obviously, drastically changed. These people work hard for their bodies, they spend hundreds, thousands of dollars to look they way they do and upkeep this image so they can be instafamous but it’s not what I’m attracted to anymore.
Don’t get me wrong, there are people at these places who are as real as you can get and are drop dead gorgeous like “I would turn lesbian for you” good looking, but it’s an industry that is solely focused on a particular appearance and that’s not what I’m about anymore. It seems as if people hide behind this persona, a cosmetic mask to hide deeper insecurities and demons. What happens when you take away that mask and reveal the authentic person behind it. What happens when looks fade and they’re not the hot topic anymore?
I can assure you that some of these fitness people are living their lives according to a certain image they’re trying to uphold. One filled with fame, fortune and money. But more often than not, it’s simply that, an image. Credit cards, dept, hired sports cars and photoshop. It’s really quite eye opening to see these people in the flesh and realize that they’re just another person.
To be fair, the vibe at fitness expos is generally very energetic; people are happy, positive and motivated and some of these big names are absolutely amazing people with kind hearts. But I realised that I’m done this fakeness now. I don’t want to be judged on how I look, how lean I am (or am not) and how big (or small) my boobs are because it’s taken me nearly 23 years to realize that it actually doesn’t matter. I have so much more to offer than my appearance, I am so much more than my looks and I am so worthy of realness. I look back and I can’t believe that I felt like less of a person because I didn’t look like ‘them’
Before this weekend I thought I missed aspects of the industry and being in the midst of it all but now, now I’m happy that I have found my way out and finally found my own inner happiness that doesn’t depend on my bodyfat percentage or how many followers I have.
I’m really happy that I got to experience this because it’s kind of sealed the deal for me. I love fitness and I’m passionate about health, but the fitness industry is not reflective of it’s name and is not centered around fitness. So for me, I’ll continue on my journey of health, self-love and self-confidence for the benefits for myself without the need or want to be involved in some of the bullshit that accompanies it.