By Ken "Skip" Hill
Yes, some are, but that isn’t my point. Everything that I write about I did at some point in the last twenty-eight years that I have been involved with this sport. Having realized in hindsight that my behavior was a bit embarrassing, I now try to hand out my wisdom to those that might want to save themselves the trouble of making the same mistakes that I made. Most times, we don’t see how stupid we look until we are able to look back and reflect years later. When you get older, you will understand.
It was a gorgeous Colorado day last weekend and I was out with my wife for a white trash ride on my Harley. White trash just means that with the sun glaring down (not a cloud in the sky), I was sans shirt and just had my jeans, riding boots and glasses on. I think you feel me – white trash to the core but I was looking DAMN cool. When I ride it is very relaxing for me. It de-stresses me and I just kind of get in the zone and enjoy the weather, the air, the smells, etc., especially when riding up here in the mountains. If you ride, I am sure you understand.
As I was riding a winding leg of Turkey Creek Road, I got to thinking about this kid that approached me in the gym a few days ago. He was a younger kid around eighteen or so and was training with another young kid about the same age. I noticed that he had that look on his face when he looked at me that basically said, “If you acknowledge me for more than 3 seconds I am going to talk your goddamned ear off.” Of course, I tried like hell to avoid this kid but he ended up coming up to me and asking me a few questions. He was asking about whether he should compete and then went into the very predictable ramble about how dedicated he is and how this is all that matters to him and that he spends all of his time talking about working out, reading about it, etc., and that it drives his friends and family crazy because that is all he ever talks about. As he was saying all of this he was laughing at the same time and I just looked at him with a perplexed look on my face. When he realized I wasn’t laughing with him he stopped as well and I could see he felt a little uncomfortable by the look on his face.
I went on to tell this kid that he is going about it all wrong and that it doesn’t take a one-dimensional approach to bodybuilding to be successful. As I was saying this I could see that it was all going in one ear and out the other. I think in his head the only thing he heard was the same sound that Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when she talks. If you aren’t old enough to know what she sounds like, you suck.
So, I got to thinking about how this poor kid is wrapping up his entire existence into bodybuilding, putting relationships aside and probably not pursuing a college education or career, either. At the same time, trust me when I say this kid had the genetics of a fry cook at McDonald’s. He isn’t exactly going to be taking the national scene by storm in the next few years.
I am no angel and I too once engulfed myself in the sport thinking I was going to be king shit one day and rule the bodybuilding world. I didn’t want to take that from him because we all need dreams and we all need something we are passionate about. But at the same time I felt a responsibility to be straight with him and let him know that he shouldn’t be putting everything else in his life aside to pursue this one endeavor. Again, my years of experience most likely fell on deaf ears.
As I was enjoying my ride in the Colorado countryside I thought about all of the things that are important to me outside of bodybuilding and all of the different things that I like to do with my family and friends outside of the sport. My wife and I ride quite a bit and we take small trips on the motorcycle frequently; we are season ticket holders as we love our Colorado Rockies baseball; all of our kids are involved in sports and I coach my son’s baseball team; we enjoy going to the range as a family and shooting handguns; my wife is a pro at drinking and whoring with her girlfriends. Yeah, scratch that last one, I guess.
My point is simply that if there is one thing I could drive into these young kid’s heads nowadays, it’s that you don’t have to immerse yourself in the world of bodybuilding to be good at it. You don’t have to live and breathe it twenty-four hours a day and have it consume you if you want to be good at it. Sure, we want to be around people that have the same interests as we do but that doesn’t mean that you can only have ONE interest. People that know me know full well that I won’t invite someone to go with us to a baseball game if I think that all they will talk about is bodybuilding. If I don’t want to be around people that can’t talk about anything other than bodybuilding, chances are most other people can’t stand it either.
If you are getting ready for a show, sure, the prep for that show will consume you – that is the exception. Otherwise, branch out and add another dimension to yourself and enjoy other things that aren’t at all related to bodybuilding. It will allow you to keep your bodybuilding motivation fresh by having other things to focus on when you aren’t in the gym and it will damn sure give your friends a reason to want to hang out with you. Think about it this way: If every single thing that came out of your friend’s mouth was about God and religion, would you want to hang out with him? Of course not! It’s the SAME thing. Just sayin’.
Ken "Skip" Hill has spent 30 years in the trenches of bodybuilding. He owns TEAM SKIP Nutritional Consulting, where he specializes in conditioning for bodybuilders and high-level athletes. You can reach Skip through his website, TEAMSKIP.net and follow him on Twitter (@IntenseMuscle).