People use athletes as inspiration all the time, especially as fitness inspiration. These are people that dedicate their lives to being in shape, so it is understandable as to why us mere mortals would aspire to their body types.
HOWEVER, as a former competitive swimmer, something I think people fail to realize is that athlete’s bodies are finely honed skill machines. Their bodies pay the price in blood, sweat, and tears, to be the best at a CERTAIN SET of skills. They don’t work out for aesthetic reasons, they work out for PURE FUNCTION. Gymnasts don’t set out to have a six pack, they set out to do crazy tumbling runs and feats of balance, and the six pack is a by-product of that. Personally, I have particularly great back muscles. But those aren’t from me wanting excellent back definition, it’s leftover from years and years of developing those muscles to pull me through the water for swimming twenty-five hours a week.
Athletes are proud of their bodies because they can do things that other people’s bodies can’t do. They can jump, run, swim, flip, and even hold their breath better than everyone else because they train for those specific goals. They train day in and day out for years on end to become just marginally better than before, and that is something most people don’t understand.
To be clear, I’m not hating on people who have never played a sport competitively, I just want those people to realize that having an athlete’s body is typically not a realistic goal. For example, I used to spend 90 minutes swimming in the morning, then two and a half more hours swimming in the afternoon five days a week, with swim meets on weekends, and this was in HIGH SCHOOL. The people we usually end up seeing on TV are people who are professional, their sport is their entire life.
Most of us go to the gym for one of the following reasons: stress relief, health/wellbeing, aesthetics. There are a few who are training for races or other kinds of competitions, but they make up a very small percentage of the population. The vast majority of us who workout spend thirty to ninety minutes in the gym a few times a week. While that is great for overall wellness, it is NEVER going to make you look like a professional athlete.
The reason this gets under my skin is whenever people make negative comments about athlete’s bodies. Serena Williams is a great example. She has won 23 grand slam titles and yet people still attack her body, calling her manly, or using other horrendous terms. For one thing, it’s just unacceptable to body shame anyone, but in addition, did you not hear me the first time!? She has won 23 grand slam titles! More than anyone, EVER! She has trained her body to play tennis so well that her skills are virtually unparalleled, and people still have the nerve to hate on her body?! It’s appalling.
This happens quite often to female athletes since apparently female muscle isn’t appreciated in society, but male athletes aren’t exempt either. Marathon runners are made out to be too thin, cyclists are teased for their smaller upper bodies, and offensive linemen catch flack about carrying too much weight. But those runners can complete twenty-six miles in just over two hours, cyclists can finish dozens of miles pedaling uphill, and that offensive lineman could probably kill you.
So the next time you’re about to say a soccer player has thunder thighs or that a swimmer has manly shoulders, just stuff it, because their body can do things yours can only dream of.