What Influences Young Male Gym Goers Aged 18 to 21 Regarding their Self-Image

Young males are also impacted by their opinions of their body images, despite the fact that the majority of study on body image perception has generally focused on girls and women. Boys begin to feel discontent with their bodily shapes and sizes as young as 8 to 11 years old, according to Lowes and Tiggemann’s (2003) research. Teenage males actually believe that their sizes are less than the optimum proportions for men their age. As a result, the desire to gain weight and muscle mass starts young and persists into adulthood. The study seeks to establish the factors that affect the perceptions of young male bodybuilders of between 18 and 21 years old who live in Adelaide concerning their body image. Bodybuilders depend on a combination of dieting and resistant training to gain muscle mass fast. The way they feel about their bodies affect their motivation to eat and exercise as required. Therefore, the study will attempt to analyze how the young men in the study population see their physique, which then motivates or demotivates them to achieve their goals. For instance, the study will examine whether it is the friends, internet and social media, their fellow bodybuilders or other factors that affect the views of the study population concerning their body image.
For the study, the term bodybuilders will be limited to refer to people who train with high intensity to gain muscles. The research will also include bodybuilders who practice for both recreational and competitive purposes.
The participation of Australians in bodybuilding and weightlifting in Australia is not very widespread. In fact, according to the most recent reports from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, sedentary lifestyle is on the increase. Between 2001 and 2008, the percentage of people who did not take part in physical activity decreased by four percent. Also, only 1.1 percent of Australians participate in weightlifting whether for the sport or recreation (Australia Bureau of Statistics). Therefore, even fewer people meet the definition of bodybuilders. Regardless, the recent increase in interest concerning bodybuilding and changes in physical appearance is alarming. Thus, the issue of what motivates bodybuilders to take part in the practice of weightlifting and other resistance training exercises is essential.
According to Hallsworth, Wade, and Tiggemann, boys gain the drive for masculinity as early as the onset of adolescence (Hallsworth, Wade and Tiggemann 460). The boys view themselves as being smaller than their ideal sizes. Hence, the adolescent boys feel low confidence with themselves and therefore seek to become bigger. Consequently, they apply muscle gaining strategies that include eating high amounts of food and weightlifting. The low self-esteem of young men is also fueled by the many fitness celebrities who post pictures on social media platforms that have currently become very common such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Moreover, individuals who participate in bodybuilding exercises have high chances of taking steroids and other nutritional supplements that endanger their lives (Hallsworth, Wade and Tiggemann 453). Furthermore, the bodybuilders who are primarily male in Australia are likely to take illegal drugs to increase their strength. I also have peers and family who are obsessed with their looks and masculinity. Therefore, it is essential to know what affects the view of the young men about their bodies.

Literature Review
There is a lot of literature from past research concerning body image perception. Bozard and Young (2016) found that the body image of men is primarily affected by factors like their friends, romantic partners, and friends. Past research has also shown that men who are exposed to pictures of muscular men show more tendency of perceiving themselves as less masculine than they desire to be especially if the exposure is prolonged (Hill 2009). The studies are relevant to the present research question. It is likely that the reason that the bodybuilders living in Adelaide between the age of 18 and 21 are motivated to gain muscle mass is to look like the men in the social media images. Bottamini and Ste-Marie (p109) found that exposure to excessively muscular men in fitness magazines and advertisements significantly increased the dissatisfaction of people concerning their body image (Bottamini and Ste-Marie 109).
The role of the society in young men’s perceptions of their bodies was studied by Bozard and Young (2016). Bozard and Young investigated the effects of the friends, romantic partners, and family of minority men who were sexually active. Nevertheless, the findings are still applicable to the study because their sample population included men between the ages of 18 and 25 (Bozard and Young 150). The desired physique for men was found to be lean and tall. The application of the findings to the target group may be that the potential mates, family, and peers of the target group influence the population concerning the ideal appearance.
Sociocultural representations of the “proper” body type for men have shifted and become very common resulting to men focusing a lot on their body sizes and shapes. The modern society has created the mentality that male bodies should be physically fit, toned, powerful, youthful, sexy and muscular (Filiault, 127). The ideal body described by Füiault is typical in the media and other sources of information. Young men who are exposed to the representations have been found to show distress about their bodies at different levels (Burlew and Shurts, 430). Also, men at their adolescence and early twenties experience more social pressure to acquire the muscular body types. Therefore, Burlew and Shurts (p 432) argue that men currently suffer from body dissatisfaction more than the past.
The study by Burlew and Shurts (2013) brings into attention the psychological aspect associated with bodybuilding and body dissatisfaction. According to the scholars, the exposure of men to mainstream media and social media that encourage the acquisition of muscular bodies leads to body dimorphic disorder as well as eating disorders. However, unlike the anorexia that the scholars focus on, bodybuilders are predisposed to overeating to maintain their weightlifting and other bodybuilding practices.
Studies have also associated bodybuilding to a type of body dimorphic disorder referred to as muscle dysmorphia. Collis and colleagues studied the association between narcissistic personalities, muscle dysmorphia and body perceptions of men who were weight training or were former weight trainers (Collis et al., 220). Muscle dysmorphia is a mental condition in which patients are muscular, but they perceive themselves as being too small. People with the psychological disease also have the pathological belief that their musculature is smaller than ideal and have an excessive concern about their fat to muscle ratios. The study that included 117 men between the age of 18 and 58 showed that the body attitudes of the participants motivated their weightlifting behaviors. Also, muscle dysmorphia was prevalent among individuals who had negative attitudes towards their bodies. The problem was more so among people who were former weight trainers as compared to their counterparts who were currently weightlifting.
Davey and Bishop (2006) analyzed the problem of muscle dysmorphia as a gender-related issue in colleges (Davey and Bishop 173). The authors discussed the various ways that young college men use as compensatory mechanisms against their concerns over their muscle mass. In the article, the author says that apart from muscle dysmorphia being a contributory factor for the bodybuilders to work out a lot in the gyms, the disorder also leads to self-destructive behavior like the use of supplements to encourage the rapid gaining of muscles and lose of fats. According to Davey and Bishop, unlike women who mostly involve themselves in starving and vomiting to slim themselves, men use extreme methods to increase their muscle and reduce their body fat (Davey and Bishop 175). The methods include the consumption of anabolic steroids and working out more than it is healthy. Less drastic measures that men implement to gain muscles involve taking excessive food supplements and creatine.
The perception of men about their body image I shaped earlier in the lives of the children through exposure to stereotypical toys. According to Pope et al. the action figures that young boys are exposed to early in their lives are shaped according to the social-culturally accepted body shapes. Therefore, it is possible that the young male bodybuilders in Adelaide begin admiring the body images of the action figures and develop the mentality that they have to conform to the body shapes. The lack of conformation of the bodies of the youths in Adelaide to the stereotypical ideal masculine body shapes may lead to low self-esteem that in turn motivate them to work out as hard as they do. The argument of Pope et al. was proven by studying various action figures that are common among the young boys in the United States of America (Pope et al. 67). The researchers found that the toys showed the bodybuilder physique and therefore encouraged boys to seek and admire being like their favorite superhero action figures. The exposure to the idea that the bodybuilder physique is the ideal figure may be partly to blame for the muscle dysmorphism that is common among bodybuilders.
So far, it is clear that even though many people link bodybuilding to positive results such as the lean body shape and the perceived sexual appeal, the practice has adverse side effects. Furthermore, bodybuilding is motivated by negative thoughts of the participants about their bodies. Therefore, studying the bodybuilders in Adelaide and understanding the factors that affect their view of their body images may lead to a reduction in the prevalence of the adverse effects. Therefore, the study will be necessary for the welfare of not only men who currently take part in bodybuilding, but the society in Adelaide in general.
The study will use qualitative methods to generate data that will answer the research questions.Participants will be recruited from several gyms located within Adelaide. Recruitment will be done in gyms that have a high attendance of male bodybuilders of ages between 18 and 21 such as the Flinders University Gymnasium, the UniSA City East HLS Health & Fitness Centre among others. The research team will advertise for recruitment through the use of fliers which will be distributed in the selected gyms as soon as the management of the gyms give permission. Researchers will then negotiate with the gym management to offer an extra week membership to the participants of the study as a reward. The reward system was picked to avoid the use of money as a reward. The use of cash presents limitations such as tax regulations. Also, the reward system will help choose the right participants to enable the attainment of accurate data. Money tends to attract people who are financially motivated leading to inaccurate data being collected.
All the fliers will have the information about the type of study, the requirements of the research and reward that will be offered to volunteers. The study will involve 20 to 30 participants because of the time limitation and the fact that interviewing more people will likely lead to similar results. Involving fewer participants may lead to data that will not be representative of the study population.
The qualitative methods that will be used in the study will need qualitative data collection methods. Therefore, data collection will be done via the use of open-ended interviews that will take 40 to 60 minutes. An interview guide will guide interviewers. The questions will be made to be informal to ensure that the interviewees are comfortable while answering them. The qualitative methods will be used to get in-depth and detailed answers to the research questions (Sofaer 330).
The interviews will be conducted in relaxed environments close to the gyms that the participants work out in. The locations will depend on various factors such as the facilities of the institutions, the time when the interviewees will be met, the preferences of the participants and natural elements like the weather. I will conduct the interviews to ensure that I also interact with the participants to get a perspective of their thoughts. I will also be interested in the body language of the participants to gain a better understanding of their responses (Doody and Maria 29). Conducting the interviews alone will also ensure uniformity of the interviews and therefore better results. The last reason for holding the interviews will be because the participants are relatively small. For the sake of recording the interviews, the interviewer will use a mobile phone application.
To meet the requirements of all research involving human subjects, the participants will be given prior knowledge of the study and then asked to sign the consent form if they accept to participate. Also, to ensure confidentiality, fake names will be used to refer to the participants in the records of the study. Also, the names of the gyms that participants use will not be revealed. The researcher will also avoid asking questions that may cause distress to the interviewees (Mellin-Olsen and Sven 632). Therefore, in case a person is not comfortable answering an issue, the interviewer will not insist. Finally, in case an issue causes discomfort, the interviewer will refer the participant to a counselor. Nevertheless, no interviewee will be forced to seek psychological help against their will.
As already stated, the study will be qualitative. Therefore, it will seek to answer questions in depth and give insight to how the factors interact. The findings will be used to inform scholars and other stakeholders on what drives the perception of the study population about their body image. Knowing the answer to the question will help to reduce the prevalence of body dysmorphia and other adverse side effects that are related will bodybuilding. Also, even though the study will not give all answers to the questions under investigation, it will provide the basis for future studies in the subject area.

Works Cited
Australia Bureau of Statistics. “Feature Article – Health and Fitness Centres and Gymnasia (Feature Article).” Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Government, 2009, www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/Lookup/4156.0.55.001Feature Article2May%202009
Bozard, R. Lewis, and J. Scott Young. “The roles of family, friends, and romantic/sexual partners in the body image of sexual minority men.” Journal of Counseling & Development 94.2 (2016): 150-160.
Burlew, Larry D., and W. Matthew Shurts. “Men and body image: Current issues and counseling implications.” Journal of Counseling & Development 91.4 (2013): 428-435.
Collis, Nathan, Vivienne Lewis, and Dimity Crisp. “When Is Buff Enough? The Effect of Body Attitudes and Narcissistic Traits on Muscle Dysmorphia.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 24.2 (2016): 213-225.
Davey, Carla M., and John B. Bishop. “Muscle Dysmorphia Among College Men: An Emerging Gender‐Related Counseling Concern.” Journal of College Counseling 9.2 (2006): 171-180.
Doody, Owen, and Maria Noonan. “Preparing and conducting interviews to collect data.” Nurse Researcher 20.5 (2013): 28-32.
Filiault, Shaun M. “Measuring up in the bedroom: Muscle, thinness, and men’s sex lives.” International Journal of Men’s Health 6.2 (2007): 127.
Hallsworth, Lisa, Tracey Wade, and Marika Tiggemann. “Individual differences in male body‐image: An examination of self‐objectification in recreational bodybuilders.” British journal of health psychology 10.3 (2005): 453-465.
Mellin-Olsen, Jannicke, and Sven Staender. “The Helsinki Declaration on Patient Safety in Anaesthesiology: the past, present, and future.” Current Opinion in Anesthesiology 27.6 (2014): 630-634.
Pope, Harrison G., et al. “Evolving ideals of male body image as seen through action toys.” International journal of eating disorders 26.1 (1999): 65-72.
Sofaer, Shoshanna. “Qualitative research methods.” International Journal for Quality in Health Care 14.4 (2002): 329-336.

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