Photo courtesy of Corey Swiergosz, (c) 2014
From the outside looking in, not much. The professional fitness lifestyle is filled with glamorous hard bodies strategically placed in marketing campaigns to make the rest of us feel inferior. Bodybuilders are on stage flexing and gleaming with nothing minimal but his or her string bikini. The bodybuilding lifestyle is cluttered and bloated with overpriced fads, how could it possibly be minimalist? But wait, if we flip the perspective and take a walk in a professional fitness model's shoes, we might find the fitness lifestyle struggles to unclutter just like the rest of us.
I caught up with Corey Swiergosz, published fitness model, business owner, and sports supplement expert to ask some questions and discover why bodybuilding is such a cluttered lifestyle. I was surprised to find that fitness models are subjected to predatory advertising, poor financial planning, and scams far more than the Average Joe, it was eye-opening. In its essence, fitness should cost nothing but time and effort, yet to compete as a professional bodybuilder, a person must commit not only emotional willpower but hefty financial resources. Corey and his staff run an innovative website called Sweat Collection and were willing to share candid details as fitness lifestyle insiders. I was able to gain a completely new perspective. Below is an excerpt from our conversation:
Tracy: Tell me why the fitness lifestyle was so appealing to you...
Corey: The fitness lifestyle is very much a way of life that you become addicted to as you become more serious. The gains physically along with the increase in personal confidence builds upon itself and you continue to want more of that same great feeling that you have everyday.
Tracy: Do you consider yourself to be a successful professional bodybuilder and fitness model, why or why not?
Corey: I definitely consider myself successful because I’ve been able to do so many things in a short period of time that others said wouldn't be possible. Success can be drawn up in many ways but as long as you are better version of yourself today than you previously were yesterday you should consider yourself to be successful. Those little successes daily add up to big successes over the course of a couple of years.
Tracy: What mistakes have you made along the way?
Corey: I've made a number along the way and have tried everything under the sun to get into shape and build muscle. I've lifted weights now for over 9 years and I would say lifted incorrectly for 6 of those years. Knowledge and experience are things that come along with it, but I definitely took my training the wrong way in the beginning by listening to the wrong people and trying to do what the biggest guy in the gym was doing. Waiting 6 years to hire a professional trainer was definitely a mistake on my part. Also during that time I think I've tried almost every diet in the books, high-carb high-protein, low-carb high-protein, high-protein high-fat, etc...
Tracy: What is your best advice to someone wanting to compete in a fitness show for the first time?
Corey: The best advice I can give to anyone wanting to get on stage is to simply do it! You'll never have a better time to do it than now so don't wait around for the perfect time. Simply pick a fitness show that you want to participate in and do everything in your power to make it happen. You'll learn so much about yourself that will help you for the rest of your life as you go through the preparation for a fitness show. Be prepared to sacrifice other areas of your life, as the time needed to get ready for a show is equivalent to a part time job. Once you begin your fitness journey always remember why you started and how far you've already come. Be happy and enjoy the rest of your life doing something that less than 1% of the population could ever do.
I will be the first to admit I made some assumptions about the bodybuilder lifestyle before my interview with Mr. Swiergosz. The joke was on me because Corey and the staff from Sweat Collection were articulate, dedicated, and truly looking to help the fitness lifestyle avoid stereotypical traps. They expressed an enthusiasm for the sport, they were caring, and they were far from the musclebound meat heads of my poor assumptions. Sweat Collection also runs the Sweat Warriors Blog, much like our own minimalist ecosystem, which you can follow here. The struggles found in the fitness industry mirror the struggles found in everyday life. Clutter was everywhere and yet a subsection of the fitness culture is emerging with a message of simplicity and realism. I am 100% convinced that if minimalism can be found in professional body building, it can be found anywhere!