About eight years ago, I came off of a massive medical ordeal. My body was a wreck. I had no muscle and looked flabby, rocking the muffin top. I felt awful and avoided looking in the mirrors. I wasn’t fat, per se, but I had a lot of extra baggage and a rounder face.

I wanted to do something about my body.

Prior to my medical trials, I had never thought much about fitness. Being a stereotypical gay or same-sex attracted (SSA) guy, I had no interest in sports or athletics.

I seemed not to care very much about how my body looked either. I ate what I wanted and didn’t care how my body turned out.

However, my medical problems gave me a new perspective on how I treated my body. I was tired of being an awkward, flabby, doughy guy. So, I joined a gym.

After getting the grand tour of the facility, I definitely felt intimidated. Walking past the free weights, I couldn’t help being a bit terrified of the super built guys with the tattooed spikes and barbed wire lines around their massive biceps.

After the tour, the gym manager asked if I’d be interested in personal training. I thought about it for a bit and figured why not?

I got assigned a trainer named Steve, a slightly older, decidedly good-looking “masculine” guy, as one would expect. After my initial intimidation, he turned out to be a super friendly and personable guy. We had virtually nothing in common, though, apart from a mutually mild interest in Batman (shrug).

My trainer really kicked my butt from the start. I got so exhausted, sweating bullets at his workout pace, and while it was hard, I did actually enjoy it.

I really liked being encouraged by a guy who felt like an encouraging big brother. He never got angry, giving me persistent encouragement to keep pressing forward.

After a break from one exhausting legs routine, he asked me to do another set.

“Alright, let’s do it,” I said enthusiastically.

“…really?” he asked, surprised. “You’re actually agreeing to do it?”

“Um, yeah!”

“Okay, great. I’m the guy notorious for making trainees throw up, so I’m just a little surprised to see you actually throwing yourself into it.”

I guess this was the part when trainees usually whine, complain, and try not to do the next set.

A new diet was admittedly the hardest part, and I didn’t take it seriously at first. My trainer seemed genuinely disappointed when I said I’d eaten pancakes and ice cream for supper the night before. I felt bad and threw myself into this new diet. It was low-carb (cutting out breads, sugars, anything with flour), and high-protein.

After a year of steady progress, I gained muscle and lost 30 pounds. Gone was my muffin top, and seeing my trainer proud of me was such a delight. My arms gained muscle definition, and I could actually feel my hip bones and jawline!

That whole year gave me so much confidence and a better body image. To this day, I still try to stay in shape and work out as much as possible.

I’ve noticed a vast majority of SSA/gay guys I meet aren’t the most in shape men in the world. I don’t say this to body-shame anyone. There’s nothing wrong with being slim, nothing wrong with being big or having some extra baggage, as long as your body is in a healthy range.

That said, I am a firm believer that our bodies are gifts from God. We are to care for them and use them the best way we can. They are not just biological machines to get our souls from one place to another like an AT-AT walker from Star Wars.

We reflect the beauty of God’s design by caring for our bodies.

I hear many reasons for SSA/gay guys not joining a gym or getting in shape:

“I’m afraid I’ll look like an idiot on the machines.”

“I’m scared of the muscle-bound jocks at the gym.”

“I’m just not good at sports.”

Frankly, I had the exact same feelings before I got fit. Sometimes gyms offer a set of free personal training sessions to new members. Personal training is otherwise pricey, but the free set can do well to help you learn the machines. The muscle-bound jocks at the gym really don’t care what you’re doing.

And you don’t have to be good at sports to get in shape. I still suck at sports.

If you can’t join a gym or get personal training, at least make an effort to stay healthy by biking, hiking, jogging, or improving your diet. The former options at least make for good introvert-time!

Not everyone needs to look like Chris Hemsworth. Heck, I’ve found Hollywood’s preoccupation with super overbuilt musclemen to be rather off-putting. I actually find such physique less attractive because it seems rather fake to me.

At the same time, you’ll find that no one has the perfect body. I’m not THAT fit, and I promise I’m not being modest. I have plenty of flaws:

My muscles have shape, but I’m not “cut.” I wish my pecs were bigger with more definition. I have no visible abs. I have a little too much jiggliness and squishiness in my stomach and lower back than I care to admit.

But I’m proud of my body despite these realities, and I don’t mind having it seen at the Korean spa.

If you ever venture into a gym, take a closer look at those scary muscle-bound jocks. Yes, their upper bodies will be muscle tanks. But take a look at their legs. More often than not, their legs suffer from “chicken leg” syndrome because they never work on them.

They’re too preoccupied trying to impress the ladies by looking like Chris Hemsworth that they neglect working their legs. They look like tanks on stilts.

You see? Even the scary jocks don’t have the most perfect bodies.

Regardless your fitness journey, try to stay healthy and honor the body God gave you. Be proud of yourself!

Do you make an effort to stay in shape? Do you have insecurities about going to the gym? Do you struggle with body image issues?

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