Life as a Bodybuilder: Your Own Hero’s Journey
Life as a Bodybuilder: Your Own Hero’s Journey!
As different as we may often feel from each other, the lives of successful people follow incredibly similar paths. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, renowned American author Joseph Campbell outlined the journey of the archetypal hero – the kind of character we see kicking ass in ancient Greek myths and modern sci-fi tales alike.
Campbell’s observations don’t just apply to works of fiction, though; real-life success stories often contain the exact same elements! Nowhere is this truer than in the world of bodybuilding, where just about every major figure has faced the same calls to action, setbacks, and triumphs. Is your life as a lifter following this path?
The Call to Adventure
Mythical heroes have always received some sort call to adventure – think Frodo in The Lord of the Rings or Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. In bodybuilding, we call this call to action “being bitten by the iron bug!” You’ve heard the phrase, right?
This call to action always happens, but it’s not the same for every lifter. For some chubbier guys (and girls), weight training starts as one of many means to an end – a fitter, healthier body. For others, it’s simply a necessity for another sport or activity. And for others still, training begins as a way to become more attractive for the opposite sex. Whatever the reason for starting, however, some of us just felt compelled to take things to the next level. Brutal training, strict diets, and a lifestyle that revolves around lifting just felt like the only thing to do – more of a calling than a hobby!
Your Road of Trials
No great story is complete without a harrowing set of adventures, setbacks, and triumphs. For bodybuilders, these trials are never-ending! Every time you accomplish a goal – a high in weight, a low in body fat, or another PR in the gym – you start planning for the next phase of training and dieting. Each new plan brings its own hardships and rewards, and you’re constantly competing against your greatest critic: yourself!
Here’s a phase many lifters haven’t quite reached – the boon. In most mythical tales, the hero emerges from his trials with a gift more powerful than any material possession: greater knowledge and wisdom about himself and the world around him. For a bodybuilder, the “boon” might be an increased awareness of the intricate workings of his own body, but it can also be something much deeper. The hardships of physique transformation can ultimately transform the mind, making a person wiser, more resilient, and better able to handle anything life offers up.
For many lifters, training is a way to escape from – or cope with – other hardships in life. Former fatties become fit and strong, and picked-on skinny kids grow into big, confident teens and adults. Eventually, though, most will return to the situations that once gave them trouble, using their new-found gifts and abilities to better navigate their lives. The now-strapping teenager may finally get a girl, the formerly skinny guy may get a spot on the team, and the once out-of-shape couch potato might just win a bodybuilding show.
Improving the World
Finally, the archetypal hero can use his boon to improve his surroundings. Prometheus gave humans fire from Olympus, Moses brought the Ten Commandments down from Mount Sinai, and a bodybuilder can use his in-depth knowledge to help other people achieve their fitness goals. What will you do at the end of your journey?