BUILT TO LAST OR BUILT TO LOSE?

Narcissus Magazine Roid Rage 01
Narcissus Magazine Roid Rage 01
Photo © Eric Lanuit

A close look at the world of steroids as they become eclipsed by the joys of the new era of natural bodybuilding.

You might call it hiding in plain sight, but hiding what? Insecurity? Inability? Low self-esteem? Insufficient skills?  At Empowered by Lifting a UK based company, it is fully understood that it’s only natural to want the best for yourself. Competitiveness is universal to the human condition and many of us will go to great lengths to increase our potential.

Of course to others, being the best isn’t about ability or internal fitness, but appearances too. Just as plastic surgery might give one’s self-esteem a boost, several men opt for a more affordable, less permanent quirk. Anabolic steroids flexed their way on to the scene in 1935 and took the world by storm in the 1960s. In 1975, due to the dishonest nature of the drug, the International Olympic Council implemented drug-tests prior to competitions, with many other fitness companies quickly following suit. Steroid use became banned due to their dangerous side-effects and mendacious association. But the use of performance enhancers didn’t start then. During the Olympic Games of ancient Greece, several competitors were recorded to have swallowed animal testicles before the games, no doubt their reasons were unknown to them, but they were certainly heading in the right direction in retrospect. Drugs were used by swimmers in the 1860s to help them win, and during WWII, German soldiers gobbled testosterone to increase their aggressiveness on the battlefield. Cognitive dissonance, born of the immoral urge to win, or cheat.

Narcissus Magazine Roid Rage 02
Photo © Eric Lanuit

Here, however, you will find no endeavour to attack or humiliate steroid users. Steroids as a product, yes. They serve as a confidence trick, undermining the historical progress of drug-free pioneers like Alan Aragon or Charles Atlas.

“To be a hormone-assisted-bodybuilder is old news. Being a natural bodybuilder is the new movement. Not to mention the irreplaceable confidence it brings knowing that you’ve achieved the body you’ve dreamed of completely unaided.”     

Steroids act in this day and age as a confidence trick. They sit in line with many of society’s vices; smoking, the slow killer. Alcohol, the numbing demon and recreational drug use. The world is full of pleasing dangers. But nothing tempts a man’s appetite for physical power quite like the steroid. A popular gimmick that attracts those who seek confidence, presence and respect, just like popular figures of today; Chris Nsubuga, Layne Norton, Eric Helms or Moji Oluwa,  All intelligent, triumphant icons.

“The convenience steroids offer simply defeats the object of bodybuilders and athletes, which is to build natural fitness and nurture sporting talent.” – Anonymous, Manchester

“It (bodybuilding) is not a commitment you swap your identity for, it should enrich you, not change you.” – Charles Atlas

Narcissus Magazine Roid Rage 03
Photo © Eric Lanuit

Founder of Empowered by Lifting, Liverpool-based natural bodybuilder Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, aims to lead the world of competitive bodybuilding in to a new golden-era, one that waves goodbye to the likes of Jay Cutler’s larger-than-life, animated image and in to greener pastures. He says: “By encouraging natural bodybuilding along with intelligent lifting and eating, we can redesign the reputation of bodybuilding and create more opportunities for everyone.”

Empowered by Lifting (EBL) is a fitness company upholding the values of natural bodybuilding. EBL aims to relieve the world of the pressures of taking steroids and enduring stern, ‘broscience’ diets (myth based). Which could be another impending craze courtesy of EBL, the freedom to have your cake and eat it – literally. EBL encourages steroid users to jump ship for a smoother, more promising voyage.

“Bodybuilding is a journey. Stopping is like stopping dead. If you’re a true bodybuilder, you love the challenge of training.” – Alan Aragon

Previous observations made by natural bodybuilding icon, Alberto Nunez, clarify the stigma attached to the sport: “In order to be and to look like a bodybuilder, you must take steroids.” The very word itself, bodybuilder, has become automatically linked to those aided by steroids without the need for a prefix.

Narcissus Magazine Roid Rage 05
Photo © Eric Lanuit

The very subject calls in to question society’s expanding issue with steroids and their link to body dysmorphic disorder, an anxiety disorder common within the bodybuilding culture. It is a condition that affects 1 in 100 people in the UK and has pushed countless men as young as 13 in to the bulging arms of steroid use, letting users believe they must look like He-Man to have any credibility as a bodybuilder. At such a young age, there are added dangers of hormone disruption caused by steroids; stunted growth and physical deformities by disallowing the body to achieve its own betterment.

“By encouraging natural bodybuilding along with intelligent eating, we can redesign the reputation of bodybuilding and create more opportunities for everyone. It will no longer be a lifestyle of slavery to gruelling exercise and rigid eating plans, but enjoyment and honest progress.” – Chris Ellerby-Hemmings, EBL

EBL strive to become a beacon of hope for a clean, fit future of natural bodybuilding. And their belief has a strong following:

“It makes me feel more confident, like I’m achieving my true potential. If I used steroids I would be stronger and bigger than I could naturally be. Then it would be short lived as it is easy come, easy go with steroids. Stay natural and keep your health!” – John Wood, Liverpool

“I want to be strong and healthy with what nature has given me – I don’t want to mess my body up by taking steroids.” – Stephanie Mannings, Scotland

Narcissus Magazine Roid Rage 04
Photo © Eric Lanuit

In this 21st century, we’ve learnt that steroids, or performance enhancers, are an ironic trick, embellishments that are kind to us but turn ugly (quite literally) after prolonged use. Youth is a friend that doesn’t stick around and steroid users discover, all to late, the cruel side-effects that rapidly melt through the glories of solid pecs and thighs of steel. Splayed teeth, acne, high cancer risk, heart enlargement, impotence, and generally having a belligerent persona won’t make you a god amongst men with this temporary muscle enhancement. We learn about such evils from a young age through stories and historical events; the Trojan horse or the poisoned apple. Not all that glitters is gold.

“I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. I avoid steroids because of the implications it has on the female endocrine system. I feel a lot better knowing that I have put in the work for many years building REAL muscle.” – Sarah Ezzideen, South Africa

Countless young men are destroying their health to ironically appear healthy, to enjoy sporting victory and simply choosing what is easy over what is right. Empowered by Lifting are shining light on natural bodybuilding, turning a snow ball in to an avalanche as we overcome the illusion of steroids, the pressure to rebel against genetics and create natural winners. Let us sit back and await the melancholy death of the steroid.

www.empoweredbylifting.com

By Michael Brennan