As competitors in this ever growing and evolving industry of fitness and fashion modelling there seems to be a very fine line, (finer than one of Cake Box’s Dookies at 2 weeks out) between egotism and self confidence, health consciousness and illness, profound thinking and insanity, community and isolation, being an inspiration or an absolute arsehole!
Competing should definitely come with an advisory sticker! In the same way that you know that any decent horror film has an 18 rating and if it doesn’t, it’ll be watered down, predictable drivel; a journey to the stage has the same capacity to terrify and if it doesn’t, it’s not worth wasting 16 weeks of your life. Your prep will undoubtedly bring out characteristics you either didn’t know you had or that you had tried to conceal for fear that no-one would ever wish to befriend you, let alone date you, again. (A bit like the way you wouldn’t ever dream of licking food off the floor on a first date but in prep, if your oats spill, you scrape them up regardless and shovel them in, 5 second rule and all that!)
As competitors, we really do begin to believe our own bullshit. If we don’t shout for ourselves, no-one else will, right? Well, this is where I do begin to battle with myself. How positive is this promotion of self-confidence, as well as the current drive to be candid about mental health battles and to be accepting of all behaviours and choices? When you are deep in a prep, everything else becomes… just noise. As a working mum of two young children, this is actually a huge draw for me. Roles and responsibilities become muted when the single most important thing is when you are going to get your next meal in! I no longer care whether I’m late to an appointment, I’m wearing clean underwear or my husband is having an affair (jokes!) as long as I’ve hit my macros, training and cardio prescribed for the day. I remember going to work one day having only drawn one eyebrow on (at least I was wearing SOME makeup…I may or may not have washed my face??) and I would regularly wear my gym kit underneath my work uniform to perform my re-enactment of supergirl as soon as the bell signalled freedom to retire to Mecca (my beloved gym).
The downside to this laser focus is that other areas of your life will undoubtedly suffer. Your non-competing (aka normal) friends at first will be irritated by your lack of commitment to social events, they will eventually give up asking you on a night-out. Your partner will become used to living the single life when you crawl up the stairs to bed at 8.30pm because you’ve got to wake up at 5.30am to get your fasted cardio in (as you can imagine, it does wonders for your sex life!) and your kids will become used to you barking when they don’t finish their food (which could feed an army – you’ve compensated your own starvation and are trying to live vicariously through their wondrous dining experiences of sausage, chips and beans!)
In this industry, have we forgotten the precept of our ancestors? That crucial message that our parents ingrained in us. The moral message behind the fairytales and the children’s stories. It is what is on the INSIDE that counts. It seems that in the pursuit of aesthetic beauty and perfection, we have lost this moral perspective.
That is until you take a step back (granted, you may have to be quite far out of your prep obsessed reality to see this). Whilst one is definitely surrounded by countless lunatics, drama queens, attention seekers, damaged psyches and certainly copious narcissists (I bet you’ve become one or all of the above!), you are also amongst the passionate, the courageous, the determined, the resilient: people who endure, who sacrifice, who overcome huge personal battles on the daily; folk from all walks of life, backgrounds, cultures, experiences, who come together to show their commitment for 5 minutes of glory and unadulterated selfishness on the Pure Elite stage! Now isn’t that BEAUTY to behold?
Gemma Ayers – Pure Elite Pro