Big muscles means big business these days. More gyms and health centres are now sprouting up than ever before, all vying to offer the cheapest deals.
Perhaps because it is commercialised – like everything to do with our appearance – the notion of bodybuilding as a competitive sport has gone out of the window for a lot of people.
And that’s something that World Natural Bodybuilding Federation champion Gavin Gibson, who runs Iron Bodies gym in Houghton Regis, wants to change.
He said: “Whenever somebody says to me ‘I’m a bodybuilder’, the first thing I ask is ‘how many times have you competed?’ and the answer is usually none.
“People think that because they go to the gym and have muscles, that makes them a bodybuilder.
“But in fact, bodybuilding means living to a constant regime, exercise, dieting, sometimes missing out on social events to make it work.”
And for the 32-year-old, born and bred in Houghton Regis, that sacrifice seems to have paid off. He recently won the European WNBF championship in Unterageri, Switzerland and looks forward to another big year of competitions in 2016.
Founded four years ago, Gavin’s gym Iron Bodies has also gone from strength to strength, now widely regarded as one of the best places in the area for aspiring bodybuilders to train.
Prior to pumping iron, Gavin was a national swimming champion and admits he’s always been an athlete.
He began bodybuilding in earnest during his 20s and received his PRO membership card – allowing him to compete with WNBF professionally – two years ago.
He said: “It’s the next step up. In a way, you have to start all over again because it’s a whole different level of competition. But, a lot of people get their PRO card and think they’ve made it.
“Just this year there were two PRO cards up for grabbing, and it was two people at this gym who got them.”
One of those, Lucy Walton, 35, is currently in Boston, USA competing in the WNBF world championships.
Asked what motivates him in his Spartan career choice, Gavin said: “Because I want to be the best at everything I do. I’ve got my own playground here, we’ve already expanded twice and its been a massive year.”