For as long as I can remember I've hated organized sports.
I cannot stand watching football, I despise sports talk shows where people scream at each other, and bodybuilding became the product of a child with a bad organized sports experience.
My thing became the gym.
Furthermore, out of shape people yelling at the television over REAL ATHLETES is pretty humorous to me. I often think to myself , “If your fat ass could do better then go play!”
PEOPLE SAY BODYBUILDERS ARE PEOPLE WHO NEVER PLAYED REAL SPORTS SO THEY LIFTED WEIGHTS INSTEAD
Yes, in a way that's true! But here's what many critics do not understand; many of us TRIED TO PLAY REAL SPORTS BUT WE WEREN'T GIVEN MUCH OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO DO SO!
You see, I started playing in a community basketball league when I was around 8 years old. The coach for the team had a daughter on the team, and that coach was friends with some of the parents of the other teammates.
One parent might have been an attorney that the coach could use down the road if need be. Another parent may have owned a restaurant that the coach would frequently take his family to.
I'm just giving you a couple examples here of how organized sports in a small town worked when I was a kid. Winning meant everything, and the coach was such a fucking loser that winning a game meant more to him than helping develop real talent by giving every kid a chance to play.
Was I any good at sports? Hell, I couldn't even tell you because I never got much of a chance to play in the games.
I can understand wanting to win games at a higher level, but if that's the case then go coach at a higher fucking level! Don't ruin someones love for the game when they're that young, give the damn kids a chance to play!
I played community league basketball for around 5 or 6 years because being involved in a team sport was what I thought boys were “supposed to do.”
That same asshole that was my first coach? I had him for 2 more years after my first year, and then it was on to a different asshole coach. That same scenario happened with the next guy too.
And you know what? I probably wasn't the most aggressive kid on the team and I wasn't the best 3 point shooter, but I was at EVERY FUCKING PRACTICE. Then game time would roll around and I might have played 4 minutes in the entire game.
How does a child develop any real talent when they get only 4 minutes of playing time in the game? Simple, they don't!
DESTROYING A KIDS CONFIDENCE
A great way to destroy a kids confidence is to not give him any playing time at a young age, until he's convinced himself that he's no good. This creates very damaging effects at a young age.
You start wondering why you're wasting your time showing up for practice 2 hours a day just to sit on the sidelines and watch other kids play the game.
You see grown men yelling and screaming with a beat red face from elevated blood pressure….OVER KIDS PLAYING BASKETBALL.
So what type of damage does this do to a child? Well, I can tell you what it does. You carry it throughout most of your developmental years and desperately try to find ways to fit in, but nothing really works.
You don't attend high school football games because you're not cool enough, and you don't ask girls out on dates because you have zero confidence. A lot of people really don't even know you exist.
You're sort of just there, wondering if you're ever going to be good at anything. Oh yea, having a bad experience with organized sports at a young age FUCKED…ME…UP!
INDIVIDUAL SPORTS AND EXTREME SPORTS
I always loved riding my bike. I loved jumping my bike, riding wheelies, and constantly finding new places to ride. It's funny because I never worried about how far away something was or how much time it'd take to ride there.
All I knew was that I had a bike and I could get there! So I'd ride my bike, miles and miles, maybe 20 or 30 miles on some days if I had to guess. This also built gigantic calves from all of that peddling.
Then I got into racing mountain bikes and although I wasn't the best I was pretty decent and I enjoyed it a lot. It was me against me, if I lost a race it wasn't because of anyone but me!
To this day I still love mountain biking and I try to ride at least once a week. It's excellent cardio and it's a lot more stimulating than a treadmill because your mind has to process things quickly, as things are coming at you pretty fast at times!
Then I got into snowboarding and rode a board for several years, competing in boarder-cross events. I was very good at snowboarding and I loved it.
The feeling of constant progression was some sense of accomplishment to me, much more so than those organized team sports I sat the bench with!
SLOWLY BECOMING AN OUTCAST
So I slowly became sort of an outcast as a teenager. I stuck to my extreme sports and I went through the motions at school, but my social life in high school wasn't really great. You see, deep down I was still that kid wanting to be “good enough” to play in the game.
I wanted to be “that quarterback” that all the girls knew. I wanted to be the life of the parties. God damnit, people knowing me at parties would have at least been great!
But I had pretty much convinced myself that common social acceptance among my peers wasn't going to happen.
I didn't hit on girls, I only talked to girls if they spoke to me first, and I was too afraid to go after what I really wanted.
Look, this isn't the easiest post to write or admit to, but it's the guy I used to be and I'm just being honest with you guys.
IT WAS THE GUY I USED TO BE…BEFORE BODYBUILDING CHANGED MY LIFE!
For some damn reason I decided to come up with this image in my mind of what I truly wanted to be. What could an adolescent teen do with his own hands to become something great?
I decided to push life back one night on the floor of my bedroom. I began doing push-ups, a lot of them. I did them every motherfucking evening after that first night, pissed off at not feeling like I mattered.
I would struggle to get that last push-up and I'd think of that asshole coach and bust another 8 push-ups beyond what I thought was true failure!
I began doing curls and overhead presses every night. I did my sit-ups every night. That bedroom became a place where nobody saw me and a place where I could go to work each evening trying to become someone that I THOUGHT WOULD BE COOL!
FUCK WHAT EVERYONE ELSE WANTED FROM ME… FUCK WHAT THEY EXPECTED!
I had a cheap set of plastic, sand filled weights in my bedroom. I had a stereo cassette player. I had a wooden chair. That was my gym. But I had the drive and determination and there was nothing that was going to stop me from going further with it!
I still remember those workouts like they were yesterday. Metallica's very first album would play over and over again in that bedroom since it was one of the few cassette tapes that I owned.
I'd drop down on that floor and get ready for that next set…the Metallica cranking…let's go!
Scanning the scene in the city TO-NIGHT,
we're looking for you to start up THE FIGHT,
there's an evil feeling in our brains but it's nothing new, YOU KNOW IT DRIVES US INSANE,
RUNNING, ON OUR WAY HIDING, YOU WILL PAY DYING, 1000 DEATHS,
SEARCHIIIIIIN', SEEK AND DESTROY!”
And damnit, seek and destroy was what I set out to do with my workouts once I got into the rhythm!
IF YOU CAN'T FIT IN, STAND THE FUCK OUT!
I wished I had realized this a long time ago, but there isn't anything wrong with not doing what everyone else is doing. So everyone played organized sports and I didn't, who cares?
So everyone needed to go to school dances and parties and I stayed home and lifted weights instead, who cares?
You see, looking back on things I realize that most people had their glory days for a few years and then quickly grew up and became your boring, everyday living, miserable fucks!
I felt like all the good parts of my life really didn't start for me until I developed my body and had finished school. When you're going through all of the struggle and sweat and discipline to build muscle, your character becomes a product of that work!
It's like this mentality of finally knowing what you're capable of and what your worth really is. It's really an eye opener for a lot of people.
I have met so many people in the gym over the years who were always square pegs trying to fit into round holes. They had similar backgrounds and the gym had became their escape from reality. The gym created a new reality for them! They were a lot like myself.
This is cool, it makes you realize that you're not alone. If you have a backstory that motivated you to work out, someone else has a backstory too!
And I see all of these people in the gyms and in bodybuilding who don't share the camaraderie that should be shared. I don't think the majority of people that exist are bad people, I think at the end of the day everyone just wants to feel heard and known for something.
The gym is a way to be heard and known for something. Not to sound like an arrogant prick, but if you're a big fucker then you feel like some sort of celebrity sometimes.
You will be out someplace and all of a sudden someone says “Aren't you the guy that works out over off main street in that one gym?”
You don't even know the guy, but he knows who you are! You go from once being a person that felt like nobody knew they existed, to being a person that people ask questions about and talk to. That's a nice feeling sometimes.
But here is the deal with that; stay humble about it. Don't ignore people, don't discredit their accomplishments simply because it's not something that INTERESTS YOU.
Maybe building computers is what someone else is good at. Isn't that a great skill that took years of learning to get good at?
Maybe someone is a great wood worker and that is their passion in life. That is definitely respectable to me. Just because fitness is my thing and not someone else's doesn't mean that person's interests don't matter.
And hey, if team sports is your thing then more power to you. I'm not knocking organized sports and they take a hell of a lot of practice and talent! I myself just had a bad experience with them at a young age.
Bodybuilding in part was trying to become someone I wanted to be, and in part it was trying to find a way to say to everyone ,”Do you see me now? Am I good enough now?” Honestly, this mentality carried on with me for a very long time after high school.
YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT SOMEONE'S STORY IS
I know it's easy to want to laugh at certain people doing silly looking things in the gym. I'm guilty of it myself from time to time. But the truth of the matter is, we never know why that person is in that gym.
I think if you got a serious answer out of a lot of people you'd find out that we are all trying to work through more than just building muscles.
Some are trying to get through something painful in life such as the loss of a loved one. Others are finding a way to break a terrible drug or alcohol addiction that has destroyed their life and they're trying to pick up the pieces and start over.
Some people don't know what they're doing in the gym, but do you know what? At least they're doing something! You just learn as you go, and when you want to learn more you absorb even more as you go!
So this is just my own story. People always want to say things like ,”He only lifts weights because he couldn't play sports or catch a football.”
They're right. I couldn't do those things well, maybe I could have if I was given more playing time as a child who should have been allowed to play the game and have fun.
But none of that matters anymore because I used bodybuilding to rise above that kind of shit, develop good confidence, and feel like a winner on a regular basis.
I have good days and bad days like everyone else. But one thing is for certain, whether it's a good day or a bad day, I'm still in the gym!
I'm still that kid blasting out push-ups, cranking the metal music, and trying to be someone that I like. Fuck what everyone else thinks I should be doing, I'm going to do what I want to do and damnit I'm going to take it!
So that's my story, what's yours? -JD
If you enjoyed reading this story and would like to hear more about how bodybuilding helped me transform my life then you may want to read Becoming the Bull
Becoming the Bull is unlike any other bodybuilding book available!
I tie in life experiences with gym experiences, nutrition, workout routines, and taking chances in life like someone with nothing to lose!
A lot of readers have emailed me and told me that this book has changed their lives!
When you read Becoming the Bull it'll quickly put it all into perspective for you….YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE AND EVERYTHING TO GAIN!