Skip to Navigation

The underbelly of competition

by Brandi


When most people think of a bodybuilding or physique based competition, there is usually a romantic Kelly Ryan association with oily greased-up hard bodies exuding confidence and sex-appeal. Most of us have looked at the cover of a fitness magazine at some point and been like "wow! I would love to look like that someday!". My idol in the beginning was a fitness competitor named Kelly Ryan. Ryan was plastered on the cover of many magazines, she was beautiful, inspirational, and in her interviews she seemed so positive and enthusiastic. Well in 2005 Ryan and her husband, Pro Bodybuilder Craig Titus, were both charged with murdering their assistant in this spectacular creepy scandal. This was my first glimpse into how people are not always, and in some cases very rarely, who and what they appear to be. Bodybuilding is a lot of smoke and mirrors. I have often said this about posing, which is more obvious. An athletes goal is to hide their flaws and accentuate their strengths as much as possible. This makes sense on stage, but sometimes this simple competition strategy turns into more of an attitude and persona off stage. Some people take things too far and just get right weird. Ryan and Titus were an extreme example, for most it does not involve murdering other people but it can involve killing your own spirit.

There is the mind, the body, and the spirit. Another way to look at it would be the logical, the physical, and the emotional. Now I understand that part of being a successful athlete is a can-do, never-say-die attitude and a genuine belief in yourself, however some people take themselves way too seriously. The danger lies in personally identifying with an activity, an outcome, or something else that is transient or temporary. There are some Bodybuilders who leverage the majority if not their entire self esteem on their physical appearance or the result of a contest. Of course, youth is temporary, you will be unable to maintain peak condition forever, and stage condition is even more temporary. Does this mean you can only feel good about yourself for brief periods of time? The outcome of a contest is not something you can control. So why give your personal power away to someone else? Especially over something as trivial as a trophy. A trophy does not represent your value as a person. Nor does the trophy represent your worth as an athlete. Yet so many people become utterly devastated, bitter, and angry at their perception of "defeat". Some resort to publicly and privately slandering other athletes, judges, and organizations who put on such events, not knowing that they are only hurting themselves further by gaining a reputation for being a "poor sport" and feeding themselves negative energy that only they have the burden of carrying, not the people they slander.

True champions have experienced near-misses and tasted defeat many times before earning their success. They don't play the victim and blame others for their flaws, nor do they pretend they don't have any flaws. They are honest and real about who they are as a human being, striving to improve just like everyone else. They tend to be happier because they don't have to carry the burden of trying to impress others, or seek validation in the external. As Oprah says, they are "spiritual beings having a human experience". Sure Bodybuilding is fun and all that, but it is not who you are. You are MORE than your body, or your activities, or the opinion of others. That is where real confidence comes from, and real confidence is way sexier than a hard body. Bodybuilding is not who you are it is simply something that you do. Do it well, but don't kill your spirit over it.


Brandi Burns