Fitness competitions have been around since someone decided to race their friends way back in the ancient days of Athens if not later than that. Since then, a wide variety of competitions have been made up, each one slightly different from the other. Today we see competition in every aspect of fitness, be it a race, physique, strength, power lifting, endurance, team sport, or something in between, competition is running amok in our industry. As someone who believes in an all of the above method on anything and everything, I see this as something good. I’m big on recognition being given only to a winner or at least a panel of a top three, top five, or top ten. In other words, I’m probably a liberal’s worst nightmare when it comes to their “everybody wins” mentality. No, in competition there are only a few winners and only one true winner. This is the same thing as in the game of life. There are winners and losers in life. However, I can’t agree more that there may be a multitude of winners in what I call a true competition, and that is you versus you.
In true competition, you’re competing against yourself. Doesn’t sound fun, satisfying, or goal accomplishing? Why not? See, the funny thing about life and fitness is that the actual competition taking place is you against yourself. So you may not ever win a 5k. But you still win if you can cut your one mile personal record from ten minutes to eight minutes. In a 5k, you went from roughly 33 minutes to roughly 25 minutes in one year, an eight minute increase. You may enter a physique competition and take 15th out of 20. But if your waist is smaller, your body fat is lower, and you are ten pounds heavier at the same time, you will have dominated your previous self. In both instances, you did win because you’re much better off in 2016 than you were in 2015. Keep in mind that competitions such as these listed above also depends on who decides to show up. I did a show in 2014 and took 5th out of 12. I did the same show in 2015 but took 7th out of 12. I finished two spots lower but I actually won because my 2015 version was bigger, fuller, and better conditioned than my 2014 version. Again, it all depends on who decides to show up and in the case of physique sports, what the judging panel is looking for. Sometimes the best physique doesn’t win, but the best presentation wins. Keep these things in mind.
If you want to truly better yourself, then you need to stop worrying about what the competition is going to look like. Instead, you need to look at your own competition because you can’t win a competition and be satisfied with yourself if you are worse off than you were the year before. That just meant you won in a weak competition. For me, I’d rather take 15th out of 15 in a show of strong competitors and look better than my previous self than take 1st of 15 in a show full of weak competitors who may have no business being onstage. Again, there is no way I could look at myself in the mirror and say “job well done” when I know full well that although I may have won, I was nowhere near my best. It only defeats the purpose.
You need to realize that you must be better off each and every year, to keep moving forward and progress, not regress. I don’t care if you’re in your fifties, if you’re still going strong then not only will you be better off than you were in your twenties, you SHOULD be better off than you were in your twenties. I see people in their forties, fifties, and even their sixties in the gym all the time working harder and looking better than people less than half their age. Age is only a number, it only tells you how long you’ve been a resident of planet Earth and nothing else. Anyone still thinking differently is either ignorant, stupid, in self-denial, or delirious. I see this theory being proven right every single day I go to work. I once had a friend tell me that after a trip to the beach they went into a gym and saw people twenty years older than them looking larger and leaner. Age is a number and a number only.
With that being said, the true competition is you versus you. Either you progress and are better off than you were the previous year, the previous five years, or the previous two decades, or you don’t. This is what I live by every single day. I’m 25 years old, which means I’m halfway to 50, but as long as I’m fortunate enough to make it to 50 I will be sure to be in twice as good of shape then as I am now. Why twice as good? Because I’ll be double my age.