The Personal Training Scene in the Arab World: A Healthy Addiction or Body Dysmorphia?

It seems like every other week in Egypt, a male gym rat comes out of the woodwork and starts his career as a personal trainer. Granted, health and wellness as an industry are fairly new in the world, especially in third-world countries. Also, its development as a scientific field is rooted in how much technology and research is progressing in a country. However, even though at a surface level it all sounds good and well, there is definitely a major issue when it comes to this specific field of work; so let’s start the heavy lifting.

“Warm-Up”: All Looks Good, Doesn’t it?

Business-wise, it’s just like any other industry with its tips and tricks to get the most customer and profit. From trainers getting multiple certificates in nutrition and anatomy to gyms facilitating all types of new machines and devices that are luxurious to attract the most amount of health fanatics possible.    

Honestly, it is more than anyone could ask for. You can practically take care of your body and general well-being whenever, wherever you just need to make the decision and have some money. Just like any other business, this one comes with its own set of issues. Not the obvious economic issues, these issues are much deeper than that.

“Deep Tissue Workout”: The Underlying Issue

Just to say it like it is, it is the blatant exploitation of people’s insecurities, especially young men. Insecurities that wouldn’t even be there in the first place if it wasn’t for the real virus of toxic masculinity. Just like a pandemic, we face it every day in the MENA region.

Most of the time we talk about toxic masculinity in the context of how harmful and cruel it is towards women. whither by undermining and restricting women’s role in society. Or base their whole value -or rather devalues- them by putting extreme beauty standers on women just to please the male gaze.

But on the other end of the spectrum that’s barely talked about, men are not allowed many things. Such as feeling negative emotions, except when they exude anger or violence. Expressing their emotions in the first place comes from a place of approval of other “alpha males” which can lead them to have issues in finding self-acceptance.

Through these unbearable, unachievable, and unobtainable male standers put on by other males, the goal of constant training and never having enough gains are attainable, which drives them continuously to the gym, producing one personal trainer after the other. as if it were a factory.

“Hit The Showers”: What it All Comes Down to

Via iStock

To sum up the underlined issue here, toxic masculinity and its backward way of thinking on beauty standards for men are the same for women just in different manifestations.

It’s as if society was saying that in order to attract men, be the skinniest, most dainty, diminutive woman, you can be. Be obsessed with everything you eat, count every calorie you consume to the point where extreme dieting and anorexia became the number one disease among young women and teenage girls.

Want to be a true man, the sexiest in the whole wide world. Get bigger, even bigger, pump yourself full of steroids and hormones; never get out of the gym, make it your whole personality. Be obsessed with everything you eat, count every calorie you consume to the point where the number of overdosing on steroids skyrocketed in this day and age.

All and all, we can only hope that self-love wins, and the youth; even all of us know that these standards and roles are enforced by a toxic, harmful image of masculinity.

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