Image is everything? The growing problem of steroid abuse
Steroid abuse in gyms around the United Kingdom is at an all-time high, according to personal trainer George Trott.
The 20-year-old began his journey in the fitness industry at the age of 16, eventually becoming a personal trainer at AbSalute Gym in Brentwood, Essex.
Since the rise of reality TV shows such as Geordie Shore and The Only Way is Essex (from which a number of the cast train at AbSalute), the obsession with fitness and individuals looking to emulate ‘ripped’ body types has risen dramatically.
Unfortunately, with an increase in people training comes an increase in people doing whatever it takes to look their best.
‘Roids on the rise
The official crime survey of England & Wales by the Office for National Statistics indicates that over 60,000 men in the UK are using steroids.
Possible side effects of steroid abuse include severe mood swings, depression, acne, paranoia and impaired judgement, just to name a few.
‘These young people are playing about with their body chemistry just for an image’ – George Trott
“Steroids are a massive problem in the fitness industry at the moment, and 90 percent of people doing them don’t actually know the effects they have on the human body,” explained Trott, who has been a qualified personal trainer for over at AbSalute for over a year.
“Bodybuilders inject testosterone as this is meant to help promote muscle growth, bone strength and develop muscle tissue. What they don’t realise is that it shuts down your body’s natural way to produce testosterone after you stop taking this supplement.
“For the 10 percent of people that know how to take these, they would know they have to do a PCT (post cycle therapy) which means they have to take another supplement that promotes their body’s natural testosterone, so they start producing this naturally again,” he said.
“I’ve had 16-year-olds asking me about steroids which shows there is a real problem. These young people are playing about with their body chemistry just for an image.”
Even more worryingly, UK Border Force figures in 2016-17 showed a 35 percent spike in seizures of steroids across the country.
But why are more and more people turning to steroids?
In the UK, they are a class C drug, meaning it is not illegal to possess them for personal use, but it is illegal to sell them.
According to Trott, there needs to be a crackdown on steroids and a higher drug reclassification for there to be a decrease in users.
“I’m sure if they were a class A, they would not be so easy to get hold of and not as many people would be on them,” he said.
“I know teenagers that actually sell steroids and I’ve asked them why they sell them. They’ve said because the risk is minimal as they are class C and they can make a lot of money out of it.
“The country has never been so into its fitness, and this means more than ever we are seeing people on steroids. People are thinking that they’ll automatically look good when it doesn’t work like that and they are just damaging their health.”
So, are we seeing a new generation of males that are more concerned about the image they project both in person and via social media? Is there more pressure on men to get their bodies to a certain standard?
Growing pressure on the male image?
“Men naturally tend to have more of an ego than women, and I think this is a problem – men are always trying to compete with each other to see who’s bigger, who looks better,” Trott, 20, claimed.
“Who’s stronger and who can lift more is what men concern themselves about. I fully believe this is why more people are turning to steroids, because of the competition they face.”
The world fitness industry is constantly growing, and for many people, training becomes an addiction.
‘I have been asked by clients about taking steroids and what ones to take, but I have advised against it each time’ – George Trott
“I have seen cases of the gym becoming an obsession for people, and I’ve actually seen this obsession ruin marriages it’s got that far. What people need to understand is that gym is a lifestyle,” he explained.
Walking hand-in-hand with reality TV stars comes social media. Millions of people use apps such as Instagram to engage with various parts of the fitness world, ranging from diet, to gym clothing, to training routines.
Trott believes social media is the biggest factor as to why a pressure on image has been created for men.
“Social media is something we use every day, so men are seeing an unrealistic standard every day. You have a lot of people that edit their photos to make them look better than they really are. Again men are going to look at this and try to achieve that,” he said.
“Unfortunately, I know trainers that advise their clients to get on steroids as they get great results in a short space of time, so it looks really good on the trainer, but there is little thought for the client’s health which is put at risk.
“I have been asked by clients about taking steroids and what ones to take, but I have advised against it each time and thankfully none of my clients have gone down that route. I think every personal trainer should take note of that.”
The future Of UK training
With the number of Brits that are going down the steroid route, what does Trott think the future holds for the UK fitness industry?
“I feel that the future of training is only going to expand, with more and more people getting in good shape, and it’s going to make people follow which is not a bad thing. Unfortunately, steroids are now seen as an inevitability.
“As for myself, I would like to start working with professional athletes and help them achieving their goals. To do this I would have to go and take a strength and conditioning course which would allow me to work with the top athletes.”
You can follow George on Twitter and Instagram @ghttraining to see some of his workouts. To get in touch with the up and coming personal trainer email email@example.com for any personal training enquiries such as training and diet plans.