A toned bod with brawny biceps and corrugated abs are a must-have for most aspiring hunks today. And if it means sweating it out in the gym for hours, so be it, they say. But now ‘quick and easy methods’ like pill-popping are tempting fitness buffs into taking shortcuts that could seriously harm their health.
Bodybuilding is big biz. Even young men from small towns are falling prey to the obsession with bodybuilding. Contests like Mr Tamil Nadu, spur dozens of boys to recklessly pursue a muscular body. Oblivious of the fact that along the way, lurk shortcuts that can cause medical problems for the uninformed.
The craze for ‘gymming’ has led to gyms crammed with fancy gadgets and equipped with personal trainers who often hold out a packet of steroids as an incentive for building those muscles quickly.
Sethu from Villupuram, (name changed on request) had come to Chennai to study, but was soon drawn to the posters outside a local gym. “The trainer told me that getting those muscles wouldn’t be difficult. Awed by the muscles and abs, I decided to train under him and he suggested that I take some pills. After a week, when my chest began protruding, another fellow body-builder suggested shots of hard liquor every day to reduce the potency of the drugs,” he recalls.
Those who work on their bodies are also known to abuse synthetic supplements to gain body mass.
Competitions like Mr Tamil Nadu, which are intended to promote bodybuilding in the city, claim that they come down heavily on misuse of medication. Udaya Kumar, Mr Chennai 2009, assures that there is no room for a steroid culture. “I can’t say for sure whether any of the boys take steroids, but we have strict tests, including dope tests. Stringent action is taken against whoever is found guilty.” The cost to the body of regular use of steroids can be high. Side-effects, serious ones, are known to kick in after a lapse of time.
A Chennai-based former bodybuilder now regrets his reckless use of steroids. “Seeing your body grow and become strong is like a kick. Once I saw the difference, I started using larger quantities. Little did I realise the price I would have to pay.”
He continues, “I have been married for two years now and am childless. I have been told I am unable to father a child,” sighs 27-year-old Arvind.
There are unconfirmed reports that excess use of steroids could lead to impotency. Fitness trainer Ajith Shetty explains, “When you artificially inject steroids like synthetic testosterone into the body, after a point of time the body assumes that it will get the hormones from outside and stops producing it internally. There is a cycle that has to be followed in order to flush out the remains of the synthetic hormones from the body, but amateur trainers don’t seem to know the right process.”
Venkatesh A., another fitness enthusiast, reveals that there are an abundance of steroids easily available at most pharmacies. He rattles off, “I-anabol, Primobolan, Anavar, Clenbuterol, Winstrol, Anadrol, Sustanon-100/250,Winstrol, Testosterone – enthanate and Anadriol are easily available over the counter. While protein supplements cost somewhere around Rs 3000, the steroids cost much less, so most of the guys go for the cheaper – and easier way out!”
If not quite Arnold Schwarzenegger, most guys at the gyms are pumping iron and bench-pressing for a Salman Khan physique. As more actors flaunt their six-packs, exercising is playing second fiddle to steroids – the shortcut to ‘hunk heaven’.
Fitness trainer Muhammad Rafeeq reveals, “A lot of the models and actors I train come to me asking for a muscular body in a short span of time. People are willing to bear with the side-effects of pills instead doing the hard work.”
The ill-informed are unaware that these side-effects can be alarming indeed. Nutritionist Shiny Chandran explains, “Excessive use of steroids can damage the liver and lead to excessive libido. Hair fall and joint pains are other common symptoms. These guys should bear in mind that the right diet, recommended by an expert, can help in getting mass without harming the body much.
Also, being fit doesn’t mean that your arms should be more massive than the dumbbells, it’s about feeling good from inside!” Finally, a question for the steroid-poppers — are those six-pack abs, bulging biceps and bulked-up bods, worth the risks?