I started competing in 1997 and have just recently returned from yet another contest. Although I don’t compete as often as other athletes, I am frequently asked why I keep at it after all these years. My close friends don’t get it. Although my family supports me, I don’t think that they really understand either, especially when they see the amount of effort and sacrifice I put into my training, nutrition, and contest preparation. The only people who truly seem to appreciate what I do are those who lead the same type of lifestyle.
Although I have just recently qualified to compete as a pro with the International Drug Free Athletics (IDFA) organization, I certainly have no aspirations of making a living as a bodybuilding competitor. There is no money to be made by competing. Prize money would only help pay a portion of the expenses required to compete, so making a living at it would certainly not be realistic. I certainly don’t do it for the trophies. A trophy is nice, but if it was just about the hardware, it would be a lot cheaper and easier to go out and buy one.
There’s no arguing that bodybuilding is about muscle size, muscle shape, overall symmetry, having as little body fat as possible, and the fun of lifting weights to get there. Since I always have high expectations and continuously strive for excellence, bodybuilding is even more than that to me: bodybuilding is a mindset, a lifestyle. If performance in everyday tasks or in my other sporting activities suffers, if I sacrifice strength, endurance, or any part of my health, then it all becomes irrelevant. All these elements are an integral part of the lifestyle I have dedicated my life to. I feel very strongly about trying to feel and look good all year round rather than just looking good only when I am nearing a contest.
Taking this lifestyle seriously requires an equal and constant level of discipline and commitment to both training and nutrition. Bodybuilding competitions merely become a small extension of this lifestyle I already live. They do, however, bring discipline and commitment to a whole new level. Although there is no shortage of egos in the bodybuilding world, the competitive process can become a very humbling one. Trying to improve one’s physique year after year and the constant drive to develop the perfect body without the use of any drugs whatsoever becomes the ultimate lesson in patience, discipline, and commitment. The process becomes even more difficult when taking into account every day stressors such as work, family, relationships, injuries, illness, time, and money.
The entire process of getting ready for a competition is a great avenue to test myself physically and mentally. Pictures from the actual contest provide me with another tool to use as a point of reference and help me evaluate my physique against my own ideals. I can then figure out where I need to focus my efforts, set new goals, and develop a new plan to achieve those new goals. As I progress, my standards and expectations evolve as well.
When I step onstage, regardless of the outcome, if I end up looking better than I did last time, then I am already a winner. That being said, I am a competitor. I’ve competed in various sports all my life. It’s in my blood. It’s a part of who I am. In the spirit of healthy competition, it’s nice to see how my conditioning, symmetry, size, definition, and overall shape measures up against other natural physiques in the industry. There is also a certain rush in knowing that I am the smallest or lightest guy on stage and trying to beat guys who are bigger and who, at first glance, might appear to be in better shape.
Since I am also a trainer, coach, and a judge for bodybuilding and figure competitions, doing well onstage also gives me a certain amount of respect and credibility when giving advice or feedback as well as when I work with clients who compete or aspire to compete. It is always easier to help people go through the process and be sympathetic when necessary by having gone through the process myself.
I figured out many years ago that competing and being successful in the world of bodybuilding is about more than just winning or losing. It’s not just about who has the biggest muscles, who has the best symmetry, or who is the leanest. It’s about personal growth, discipline, determination, and so much more, all the while maintaining a balanced life. I still live a very happy life while working two jobs, have a loving family, have many friends, hobbies, and still practice a variety of sports. In the end, it’s about the lifelong pursuit of developing the perfect physique without forgetting about the more important things in life. If I ignore this, then any success onstage is insignificant.
. . . Steve Duperre, IDFA Pro