A Conversation About Health With Austin Thomas

I met Austin this year through my roommate Calsey, who recently started to train with him. Otherwise, I only remember seeing him at the gym all of the time. I assumed that he was obsessed with the gym and that it consumed his life. Getting to know him a little better, since Cals has been training with him, dissipated most of these assumptions. I have always been skeptical about the claim that working out is necessary in order to be healthy. Therefore, I decided to do an interview with him so that I could better understand his whole mindset on it. Below are the questions and answers that the interview consisted of. After the interview transcript, I expressed my personal opinion on the matter. Please keep in mind that everyone has a right to their own opinion, so just know that I am not trying to convince you of anything, I am simply expressing how I feel about fitness.

 

Her Campus’ Samantha Nicole: “Where are you from?”

Austin Thomas: “Chester, NJ.”

 

SN: “What grade are you in and what is your major?”

AT: “Junior and Accounting/Finance/Bio Chem triple major.”

 

SN: “Tell me about the Health and Wellness club that you run here on campus. Why did you decide to start this club?”

AT: “I made this club to give people an incentive to go to the gym. I also wanted to make people who don’t usually go to the gym, more comfortable in that setting. The club encompasses a social and academic community as well. I like to emphasize the idea of balance, and not just having the mindset of getting fit during the week and binge-drinking on the weekend.”

 

SN: “How many times a week do you find yourself at the Richter? How many times a day?”

AT: “All depends on who wants me in there. I probably come in twice a day at minimum, usually once in the morning and once in the evening. I am here hours at a time though, so it comes out to around 6-7 hours a day if I only go in the morning and the evening.”

 

SN: “What does your typical workout routine consist of? Is it different every time you go to the gym?”

AT: “My workout routine changes every single day. I focus on workouts designed more for muscle building, performance, and calisthenics, compared to other officers of the club who train more for strength, and another kid training for Taekwondo.  Some people also want to train for cardio, so it all just depends on what you want to do.” 

 

SN: “Did you work out before college? If so, at what age did you begin to work out and why?”

AT: “No, I started working out when I was 19 years old. I was actually really out of shape from around 16 to 18 years old because I was extremely underweight. I barely ate food, did not do any sporting activities ever, and I couldn’t even do a single push-up or pull-up. In result of this, people nicknamed me “chicken arms” in high school all of the time. I started to work out because I wanted a change from the fraternity scene that I was experiencing at Penn State, which is where I went before Bonaventure. The ‘frat life’ just wasn’t satisfying or rewarding to me and I realized it wasn’t bettering me in any way, so at 19 years old, I knew I wanted to make a drastic change.”

 

SN: “How did you transition from being so out of shape to being completely in shape?”

AT: “Well I wouldn’t consider myself a pro now, I am just like everyone else getting better, but I saw really good results after 3 months of consistently going to the gym and eating the right foods. You need to take small steps every day.”

 

SN: “Would you consider yourself passionate about fitness? Why or why not?”

AT: “I would consider myself passionate about health, not necessarily fitness because I don’t want to say the gym is my passion. I would say helping people become healthy and become a well-rounded individual is probably more realistic in terms of what I am passionate about. For example, I don’t care as much about how much weight I lift or how I look, as much as I care about bettering myself.”

 

SN: “Do you consider yourself a fitness trainer? I have heard that you are known for helping people to work on aesthetic. Can you expand on this please?”

AT: “I guess I would consider myself someone who has gone through a lot of experiences with health-related issues and someone who has made a lot of mistakes. Therefore, if I could help people avoid a lot of the mistakes I made, it would be beneficial to them. I am not certified, I am just giving my experience and if you want to follow it, great, if you don’t, then don’t, you know? Aesthetics is more about the look of the muscle, and obviously you are going to build strength with it, but it comes with building size and proportionalities. In other words, it is almost trying to look like one of those Olympians from back in the day.”

 

SN: “What is your opinion on the body positivity movement showing up today on social media? Have you personally ever dealt with body image issues?”

AT: “I think it’s bull****, honestly. There is a saying that basically states if you are good enough, you might as well keep it. My mentality is that if it could be better, it might as well be broken; if you could always make yourself better, then why are you just satisfied with where you are at? You should be proud of where you are, but you should always be striving for more and if you stay stagnant, then you aren’t getting anywhere. The gym is only one aspect of it all, but it is more about the mindset behind it, which is why I like the gym so much because it is one of those places where you can’t cheat yourself. Depending on how much work you put into the gym, you are going to see different results. Now, with body positivity, there is the concept of society setting standards for what women or men should look like. These standards are preposterous goals. You should be proud of the work that you’ve done, but if there is no work behind what you are doing and you’re just saying, “Accept me for who I am,” without any work, then no, I do not condone that. As for me personally, I critique myself every single day. Do not get me wrong, I am happy with the progress I’ve made, but I am always thinking, “What could I have done to make it better?” I am always chasing more and trying to get ahead.”

 

SN: “How important do you think working out really is? How do you feel about people who don’t work out?”

AT: “Health at the end of the day has a circle around it full with your social health, mental health, spirituality, and of course physical health. If you are going to the doctor and they say you are perfectly healthy, then I don’t think you have to go to the gym. Keep in mind though that it [the gym] is somewhere that you can build a healthy mindset. If don’t need that, and you can find other ways to maintain yourself, then I wouldn’t say going to the gym is a necessity of life. Although, it definitely has helped me through a lot of other issues that have nothing to do the gym such as mental issues. If you talked to me when I was 17 or 18 years old, you would see that I am a completely different person now because I have learned things like character building and perseverance. The whole idea of trying to make yourself look good, if that is your reason for coming into the gym— then you are going to fail. People start off like that, but if that is your mindset, it shouldn’t be. If you are doing it for someone else, then you have no personal drive. You should have your own personal reasons that are healthy, not obsessive.”

 

My post-interview thoughts: In my own experience, nobody ever told me that it was crucial to work out in order to stay healthy; my doctor fortunately never deemed me overweight or underweight. Plus, I have an extremely high metabolism. Therefore, I have a decent amount of freedom when it comes to the amount of food I eat. From a different perspective though, yes I am healthy, but I have never necessarily been in shape. This doesn’t bother me because I am content with my body and don’t feel the need to change any part of it.

 

Loving myself for how God made me is a hard thing to do in a society where girls are constantly criticizing themselves and pushing themselves until they look like their favorite Instagram model. Nowadays, it is all about having the biggest butt and the tiniest waist; for some reason, this standard of beauty never seemed right or fair to me. Why put so much pressure on yourself unless your body’s current status is unhealthy in some way? Some may come back at me and say, “Well, what if it just makes me feel more confident in myself looking like an Instagram model?” My response to this would be that your appearance is not where your confidence should be stemming from in the first place. Of course I understand the idea of having a full face of makeup and a cute outfit on making me feel extra beautiful. But, I never let the absence of those things make me feel less beautiful in any way…

 

Getting back to the subject of working out, I agree with Austin in the sense that it is a great way to build a healthy mindset. Although, I don’t agree with the concept of striving for perfection all of the time. In other words, just because I feel happy with how God made me does not mean I am lazy. Do not get me wrong, I go to the gym once in a while because I think it is a great way to reduce stress. However, I definitely don’t beat myself up if I can’t make it there. Another point that Austin made that I agree with is that if you are working out just to look a certain way, you are going to fail. This is an unattainable goal, and even if you think you will achieve it eventually, you will never be completely pleased with it. In the end, I want to leave you guys with the following messages:

“I realize everybody wants what they don’t have. But at the end of the day, what you have inside is much more beautiful than what’s on the outside!”

~Selena Gomez

“If anybody even tries to whisper the word ‘diet,’ I’m like, ‘You can go f*** yourself.’”

            ~Jennifer Lawrence

“I’m not going to sacrifice my mental health to have the perfect body.”

            ~Demi Lovato

“You’re a human being, you live once and life is wonderful, so eat the damn red velvet cupcake.”

            ~Emma Stone

 

 

xo, Samantha Nicole

 

This article was originally published on styledwithconfidence.wordpress.com.

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