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LAST_UPDATEFri, 27 Oct 2017 9am

Youths And Steroids: ‘Social Media, A Big Influence On How A Person Should Look’

Is there such thing as a ‘perfect body’? From referencing Barbie Dolls for the females; to looking like Batman or Wolverine for the males, the epidemic of mankind obsessing over body image, arguing over what is most ideal in this lifetime, has taken an unrealistic shift in today’s society – and Malaysians are not spared from it.

Though with it, comes potentially dangerous medical consequences. In a local report recently, the founder of the Malaysian Body Builder Junkies Club, who is popularly known as Kapten Waja, said he had seen the fatal effects of anabolic steroid abuse among youths (especially males) who wanted to sculpt their bodies.

So does muscularity equals masculinity that these young men have resorted to being overzealous to the point of consuming steroids and other substances? What really drives youths in wanting that ‘perfect body’?

Why Youths Are More Prone To Using Steroids

All Rasid Shariff, a 32-year-old yoga and fitness instructor of YogaOneThatIWant Studios believes the obsessiveness lies in what they see on social media and in the magazines.

“Famous people and celebrities look summer-ready all year long, hence, the obsession of looking good,” he said, adding how models, football players, actors, and almost everyone on TV can easily look like a fitness model nowadays.

While this is in no way an ideal situation, he expressed that men (and women), should instead work on improving their lifestyle to become healthier as this will eventually contribute to a better body image.

“The core to all these improvements is to be healthy,” says All, whose typical gym routine includes weight-lifting four to five times a week, while training a specific muscle group each time.

“I’ve also added yoga in my training regime as I practice yoga every day since stretching is an important component in any fitness regime,” he shared.

When queried on the use of steroids, All, whom has personally witnessed his friends making that mistake emphasises on how it can easily damage our body’s functions, whilst causing cancer.

“It’ll bring you no good to look physically perfect if your internal organs and body’s functions are damaged.

“The youngsters who are obsessed with the usage of these harmful products are unfortunately mingling with the wrong circle of friends. They are young and easily influenced, and in need of approval from people in their circle of friends and community,” he stressed.

However, All relayed that with natural fitness icons available on social media in this epoch, steroid usage in body building has in actuality decreased significantly in the last five years.

“A few teenagers have messaged me on Instagram reaching out for advice to get in shape. Some of them were advised by irresponsible gym-goers or gym product sellers to use this shortcut (steroids),” he shockingly revealed and added he advised them against it.

For males obsessing over body image, All revealed that workout is only 20 per cent of the effort to get in shape, while 80 per cent comes from what we consume. So, what we really need is the knowledge of food science and nutrition.

“There are many nutritionists and dieticians available for consultation nowadays and I have known a few bodybuilders who are steroid-free and their bodies are just as amazing.

“It may take them years to build their desirable physique, but nothing in this world is free. At the end of the day, consistency is key,” he said.

His word of wisdom to the youngsters: “Just remember, your body is irreplaceable. Never do anything that may cause damage to yourself, stay away from steroids. Train harder, eat better and live healthier – it’s what money can’t buy that matters.”

Malaysian Digest also had the pleasure of speaking with Kevin Zahri, also known as Cikgu Fitness, who is one of the most successful and award-winning health and fitness experts in Malaysia.

With over 10 years’ experience as fitness trainer, corporate speaker, fitness writer, TV host, he tells us, there is nothing wrong about youths being obsessed with their own body image – as it just means that they are self-conscious and want to perfect their look.

“It's really an individual’s choice and challenge to address these insecurities. Social media, the magazines etc. are obviously a big influence on how a person should and should not look,” he opined.

Admitting he is no fitness freak per se, but rather practical, Kevin shared he frequents the gym three to four times a week because like everybody else, he too has his ups and downs, resulting in varied routine regime.

“I just make sure a quality session is included every now and then. I would definitely not recommend one to workout everyday if it's only a 10-15 minutes exercise as we would want to focus on a more quality workout (minimum of 20 minutes, no longer than an hour) rather than quantity,” he said, adding he keeps himself active, be it with kids or workouts, and that being active really depends on what a person defines it to be.

On the use of steroids to obtain the desired physique, Kevin likened it to smoking, “We are aware of the dangers it holds but we still do it. Everybody has to be responsible for their own actions at the end of the day.”

Despite acknowledging the widespread use of steroids, he believes there is a stereotype and misconception attached to it.

“If a young adult goes to a gym, a lot of parents immediately associate steroids with whatever progress he is making. However it is a minority that are taking it, but regardless the small number, it's not okay to do so.

“Youths are prone to taking it because they are more driven by the desire to get to where they want to be. Plus, the younger generation are an impatient bunch, they want immediate results!,” conveying his personal experience.

He also shared that young gym-goers are easy targets due to lack of experience, resulting in them being at the mercy of their gym trainers whom are their influencers.

“It's a supply and demand thing, in which these seniors sell supplements, steroids, among others, to make the extra buck. Would I blame the seller? Yes. Would I blame the person consuming? Yes. It takes two to tango after all.

“It’s these anabolic steroids that is being misused as recreational drugs and for me, it is not necessary for you to build a physique. It becomes a component that individuals misuse by boosting the testosterone levels for quicker results.”

Aside inexperience and being impatient, Kevin highlighted, “The reason steroid use is prevalent amongst youths is because they want to impress ‘chicks’, and because they feel there are less repercussions,” he clarified, adding that understandably, youngsters do regrettable things but will hopefully learn from their mistakes.

But for those who seriously want a ripped body at a young age, Kevin reminds to weigh the pros and cons, because it does not mean that you are young you can let these things go, said the celebrity trainer and founder of Cabaran Jom Kurus 1Malaysia.

“Stay away from steroids, it may take a little longer to gain those muscles but you can still gain it without risking infertility, cancer etc.

“The cons of not using steroids far outweigh the short gain of using them,” Kevin concludes, stressing that education is imperative among our youths to create more awareness and curb the misuse of drugs in relation to bodybuilding.

Don’t Take Shortcuts, Consume Real Food

Further delving into the dangers of steroids, Abdul Jabir Jaafar, a medical practitioner from a government agency enlightened us how these days it is common among fitness freaks.

“They are really trying hard to get the perfect body that they desire and in my opinion it's not a healthy lifestyle when you try to take shortcuts by consuming steroids and the likes of it,” said Jabir.

He explained the use of steroids for muscle building should be banned as it an abusive act towards one’s body and that when consumed without health personnel advice could then cause overdose and organ intoxication.

“They will harm vital organs and cause permanent damage such as kidney failure, heart attack and stroke,” he detailed.

Instead of an opportunity to cure a patient from the use of steroids, Jabir has given plenty of advice on the harmful effects of steroids and encouraged his gym rat peers to never choose that route for their workout regime.

Nevertheless, he noted that some youths suffering from the side effects of steroids are not fully aware of its dangers due to lack of exposure.

“So it is crucial that they are informed that it is wrong and harmful to their body. They should withdraw and deal with the withdrawal symptoms. Get professional help such as counselling,” he added.

“There are plenty of high protein real food like salmon, chicken breast, broccoli and beans, among others, that can cater to your daily protein requirement,” was his advice.

On that note, he reminded, “Hit the gym regularly and consume real food. Muscle building is not just all about the result, it's the journey towards a healthier lifestyle.”

Learn To Love Yourself

Meanwhile, Nadiah Ibrahim, associate trainer for IMAGO Consultancy & Training Sdn Bhd shared with Malaysian Digest some tips for youngsters dealing with body issues.

“Most of the participants in our training programmes are very conscious about their body. They always compare themselves with their idols, wanting to be and look like them.

“Our clients are not just youths but adults as well. We teach them on how to play with illusions and dimensions to conceal and concentrate on certain body parts,” explained Nadiah, although she agreed youngsters are more influenced by what they see on social media these days.

“Those from Gen Z and soon Gen Alpha (born in 2013-onwards) are among those avid users of the internet, whom are even more advanced than Gen Y/Millennials.

“Social media has become a 'motivation' for them to get in shape and buff like their idols, both locally and internationally,” she opined.

Nadiah also shared her concern, when she once came across a Facebook posting of a 15- year-old boy who miraculously had the physique of a bodybuilder.

“Looking at his age and knowing how metabolism works for a boy his age, I’m not surprised if someone lured him into taking steroids for faster results and a better looking body.

“This is worrying as gym activities could be 'addictive' and some of gym-goers do want fast results, hence they resort to taking steroids.

“By consuming steroids at such an early age without a doctor's prescription could be fatal,” she warned, expressing grave concern that people often disregard the side effects and long-term effects of the uncontrolled use of steroids.

To curb such unwanted circumstances that may befall our youngsters, Nadiah feels the gyms should promote healthy eating and lifestyle programmes besides focusing on physical activities.

“Being youngsters, they need guidance from adults or from the people whom they trust.”

But more importantly, Nadiah urges youngsters to always embrace themselves for each and every one of us is special in our own way.

“If you have issues with their body image, seek advice, opinion and help from a certified health practitioner and fitness coach.

“Always remember that you should check thoroughly on anything that gives you fast results as it may have hidden risks that you might not know.

“A buffed body does not determine a good health. Love yourselves for who you are,” she aptly concluded.

-Malaysian Digest