by Christian Duque
It’s very difficult to gauge how every Christian or every Muslim thinks of the sport of bodybuilding but over the many years of creating content all throughout social media, I can speak to my experiences from tens of thousands of viewers that have left comments regarding my contest coverage, interviews, and news. A lot of people simply don’t understand what the sport is all about. Some people see it as a sport of vanity and others see it as simply narcissism. They view bodybuilders as self-consumed human beings who believe they’re able to achieve perfection without God.
Again we are speaking about a very small fringe, but one that is still very vocal all throughout social media. Not only do they find moral objections with the sport but they dissuade those around them from pursuing any attempt at improving their physique in the gym, in the kitchen, and most definitely through the use of exogenous hormones of any sort.
For many years, I have contemplated writing an article about this very topic, but have relented only because of the potential negative blow back. Religion is something you just don’t talk about. That being said, I think it’s an interesting topic to discuss and if this article is going to be published anywhere – it’s Iron Magazine!!
Whether we are speaking about the Bible, the Koran, or any other religious text, it becomes necessary for there to be a higher power to fulfill, either physical perfection or mental enlightenment. There is a need for the higher power to achieve this higher level of being. Many people outside of physique-based sports, mistakenly believe that the athlete believes perfection is attainable. I’m here to tell you that that is simply not the case. And I don’t think there’s a single athlete who truly believes that he or she can achieve absolute perfection on stage. It is simply impossible. There are so many factors that come into play – from fat levels, hydration, vascularity, and genetics. While someone may be seemingly perfect when it comes to their upper body, the same cannot be said for their lower body. Other people look better on the left side than on the right side. The goal is not perfection – well, let me rephrase – the goal is perfection, but that perfection is unattainable.
So, if perfection is unattainable, then what is the problem that some of the faithful have with the sport? Again we are speaking about a small but vocal fringe. Bodybuilding is a very singular sport. It does not require any kind of social interaction, much less going to church or congregating with others. Most bodybuilders are their happiest when they train alone. This is why so many muscleheads prefer to work solo than with a workout partner. When you train with a partner, you have to be on that person’s schedule and you have to be ready to become a second priority from time to time. This is because most people do not put the gym ahead of all other life obligations. But the most driven athletes, the ones that unfortunately get the grief from this particular religious fringe, are the ones that need no one. Their love for bodybuilding becomes an obsession, and in many cases everyone and everything is second to that obsession, including God.
Because bodybuilding has become so dependent upon social media one cannot ignore sizable sections of viewers leaving commons. And this is yet another reason why this article is so important. As I stated earlier, I have been creating content since August 2008, and since August 2008, not a month goes by where I don’t have a sizable number of comments from pious viewers, who are alarmed by the discipline and the dedication that so many bodybuilders have for this particular way of life. In many regards, I would concur that it’s not a sport, I would say it is very much a way of life, because there are no seasons; this is a lifelong, love affair or nightmare, depending on where you’re looking at it from.
Although many bodybuilders are torn and broken, I don’t think that anyone who truly loves bodybuilding would describe the sport as a nightmare but I can almost assure you that their significant others, family members, and friends may have this type of opinion during varying times of the year. This is because of the athlete’s dedication and ironclad discipline.
A bodybuilder will not break their diet for social purposes. It could be a marriage anniversary, their son’s graduation, or passing an important, professional licensing board exam. If they are on their diet, nothing will break that eating pattern. If they have to train, they will find a time on the given day to go to the gym. If they have to train with bags of sand, ropes, or using their own bodyweight, they will do it. It is this relentless commitment to staying on track that makes many ultra religious people very uncomfortable. They would only expect this kind of devotion to the Lord and no one else.
Unfortunately, there is very little that my article can do when it comes to convincing members of this ultra religious fringe to take a second look at bodybuilding. To them bodybuilding it is no different than the tower of babel. It’s just another attempt by man to reach the sky without God. Although airplanes have done this for a hundred years, Bodybuilding just seems to really push their buttons. It is one of the most unusual realities online, and as I’ve stated previously, any content creator can tell you, it’s a thing.
It’s my hope to inform and to get people to possibly change their perspective through acquiring different types of knowledge. In the end we have to be tolerant, and I would hope that even skeptics would look on the bright side of the sport. It does take tremendous discipline, and it is an obsession, but in no way, shape, or form, do bodybuilders think they can ever achieve perfection. All it is is a goal and however close they get to it, is the point.
In closing, I would just like to say that I am not endorsing any religious view. And I am not saying that you should be religious, either. I am simply stating that bodybuilding is not antithetical to being a spiritual person. I am also saying or would like to say on the record, that some of the most spiritual people that I known, and this could mean of any religious doctrine, are physique-based athletes. I have met countless Christians, Jews, Muslims, and others who have a deep faith in the God AND love bodybuilding.