A Gym Rat’s Motivation

A Gym Rat’s Motivation

At some point, most men who work out regularly wishes he looked like an actor in a high budget action flick or a superstar athlete throwing touchdowns. The gym rat’s age determines which decade and which icon he most identifies with; Arnold Schwarzenegger for the 80s crowd; Michael Jordan in the 90s; and Jason Statham or David Beckham for the modern generation of workout warriors. The superficiality of a celebrity translates onto the average Joe, because American men seek inspiration from male sex icons. A star’s physical beauty resonates not only with the crazed girl who wants to marry the sexiest celebrity alive, but the man who wants the crazed girl to look past Tom Cruise and to marry him instead. What one notices after a while is that those dreams crush easily, but even when a man says “I’ll never be as cut like him” or “I’ll never have an eight pack,” the influence of fame reeks of envy.

Gym rats are drawn to male public figures that are sexually prominent among women. Yesterday at the gym a guy compared himself to a budding superstar in the NFL: “now that I’m buff people think I look like Colin Kaepernick.” Dr. Dan Schaefer of Person to Person Resources believes that these comparisons mirror Albert Bandura’s research on imitative behavior. One way to learn is by observation. Through the median of television, movie stars and athletes get plenty of face time. Put another way, the vast majority of men workout to appeal in some way to the opposite sex. Their motivation comes from trying to be like or better than the most desirable man on television.

The classic Stanley Kubrick film, “Dr. Strangelove,” alludes to the male desire for men to be physically recognized by women, even at the cost of masculine identity. In one scene, General Ripper paradoxically references his insatiable lust for the opposite sex. Ripper explains, “I do not avoid women…but I do deny them my essence.” The essence is interchangeable outside of sexual intercourse. Consider money spent on a date gone badly or the six months of pay to buy a wedding ring. The common man is experiencing a form of grief, and they need remedial bonding, attachment, and connection. There isn’t a better place to identify with men than in the confines of a gym.

For beginners the gym atmosphere is daunting because everyone else seems to have countless workouts under their belt, building street credit like a rewards program. It’s psychologically embarrassing enough to barely curl thirty pounds a few times, much less being judged by the peers one hopes to emulate. Most veterans aim higher; they aspire to be ten times better than a Stallone in his prime. Despite being an illogical method for becoming physically fit, men strive for the superficiality that they think women desire. Why else would a man workout at the gym five times a week? Google “working out at home”; countless web sites agree that working out at home is far better, and that’s because there are too many distractions at the gym.


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