Gym culture in guys: dangerous, or healthy?

“Muscle dysmorphia is not a vanity; it is a serious mental health condition that can be treated. We really hope that with more awareness and understanding more men will seek help,” said Kitty Wallace of the BDD Foundation. 

The gym is a great place to work on oneself. It can help people release and channel their emotions into results they can physically see and feel. The gym also offers opportunities to help make people feel and look better, so it is no surprise many guys have found sanctuary there.

In fact, guys who go to the gym regularly are often coined “Gym Rats”, meaning they spend a significant amount of time there. They generally have a group of gym friends that encourage one another to build more muscle and make gains. Following in the steps of other health associated social trends, this conglomerate of guys have formed their own culture. 

“Gym Rats” will spend hours at these gyms, often pushing themselves to the limit in order to reach their body goals. For so many, the issue with this is hard to recognize. These guys are seemingly healthy and there appears to be no harm.

This culture, though, goes beyond certain etiquette, looks, and exercise regimens. It has put a significant amount of pressure on guys to look and live a certain way. This can call into question just how safe and healthy people’s total dedication to the gym actually is. 

The obsession with calories, body image, and eating habits in general has caused experts to begin recognizing these behaviors as an eating disorder in which they refer to as “bigorexia”. 

According to, “bigorexia”, also known as muscle dysmorphia, is a health condition in which people obsess over getting their bodies to build muscle. This condition shares many similarities with anorexia. It can cause people, often guys, to dedicate their entire lives to fitness, never finding themselves “good enough”, and causing harm to their bodies by pushing it over the edge.

The symptoms and dangers of the disorder can be hard to recognize, since working out at the gym is typically seen as something that is, in most cases, strictly healthy. However, just like all eating disorders, it can have serious consequences on one’s mind and body.

Furthermore, according to, “bigorexia” can lead to muscle strain, injury, or even organ failure. It can harm a person’s mental health, leading to angry outbursts, depression, or mania. These issues are not things to be taken lightly, and can cost someone their life.

Guys are often drawn to the disordered path, much like women, due to what is deemed beauty. In today’s society, they may feel a certain pressure to be large and muscular. The beauty standard for guys is restrictive, putting more value on guys who are large and muscular. Because of this, it’s easy for guys to fall victim to eating disorders, especially to a disorder such as “bigorexia”. 

Although women are commonly the focus when discussing eating disorders, according to, one in three people with eating disorders are male. So, it’s wrong to assume that this issue only afflicts women.  

Still, not all guys who dedicate many hours at the gym have “bigorexia”, but many of them participate in dangerous activities. The use of steroids, constant fasting, and overexertion are just a few examples of what some guys do that contribute to their obsession with fitness. When someone abuses the gym, and thus, their bodies, it becomes a slippery slope.

The hyperfixation of the gym and the culture around it is, therefore, can be quite dangerous. According to the [Body Dysmorphic Disorder] BDD Foundation, one in ten men that go to the gym may suffer from “bigorexia”. This statistic is staggering, and further highlights just how dangerous extreme dedication to the gym can be.

While experts recognize the dangers of a disorder like “bigorexia”, there are many people who only see the positive side of dedicating so much time to the gym and their physique.

According to, studies show that physical fitness can often cause people to feel happier due to the release of hormones, and can even lead to longer lifespans. Meaning, not only can the gym have a positive effect on one’s mental health, it can simply make life longer.

So, while it’s clear that there are many positives one can gain from keeping healthy, people need to find a safe balance.

Even though the gym is great for health and is important, it can become unhealthy quickly. That’s why it’s important to encourage everyone to be careful, and mindful not to fall victim to some dangers that the gym can have on their health.

Keeping a delicate balance between fitness and a healthy mindset absolutely is key. Even though being healthy is important, people who push their bodies excessively and well above their personal limit has become too common. People should work to make sure that they’re being kind to their bodies, and avoid the dangers of overexertion at the gym.