Views 25 | Time to read: 4 minutes | Uploaded: 11 - 7 - 2018 | By: Anna Besh
It is a late Saturday afternoon and the “nonexistent” Santa Barbara heat has an almost tangible presence as it radiates off the concrete. To most, the thought of a workout at this time of day is almost laughable, yet this afternoon, the gym is precisely where one can find Micah Holmquist.
Upon entering the alternate reality that is the Westmont fitness center (it feels like a completely different world in there), it doesn’t take long to spot Holmquist. He’s the one without shoes on, shoulders back, head held high, and a look of confidence and determination in his eyes. He approaches his sport, bodybuilding, like any other devoted athlete: with a clear goal in mind and a carefully calculated way of achieving success. By no means is he here to mess around.
“As of now, I have a competition this Summer, but I might not do it because I’d rather focus on getting my body where I want it to be. Bodybuilding is focused on body composition-- your physique-- unlike powerlifting, which focuses on how strong you are.”
Each and every day, Holmquist devotes between three and five hours to his sport.
“If it’s an upper body day, I’ll do chest biceps, and abs-- fifty minutes to an hour for chest, an hour for biceps, and who knows how long for abs.”
Aside from a huge investment of time and energy, Holmquist also follows carefully regimented diet which is focused primarily on increasing caloric intake (right now he is bulking) and specific ratios of macronutrients. He aspires to be a physical therapist, is clearly well-read and researched in terms of bodybuilding, and speaks of his sport in scientific terms.
“Weight training can be really good for your body-- it strengthens your connective tissues like your tendons and ligaments, increases your bone density, and is good for your cardiovascular system.” As Holmquist speaks, his eyes light up; he is clearly fascinated, if not passionate, about the subject at hand, although he does also acknowledge the potential toxicity of bodybuilding culture.
“Bodybuilding can definitely become unhealthy, especially as a professional sport. Most professionals take testosterone, which causes your body to stop naturally producing it, and it really messes up your reproductive system. Bodybuilding can also contribute to negative body image, since it is so focused on appearance and aesthetics.”
Between sets of walking lunges, Holmquist opens up further about his views on self esteem and gender, especially in light of bodybuilding, a sport which is often regarded as extremely “masculine,” though Holmquist does not identify it as such.
“I wouldn’t say I have an extremely liberal view of gender-- most of the time, people are confusing sex and gender.” Holmquist states his opinion matter-of-factly as he throws back a swig of water and stands up to do another set.
“Our society’s view of ‘masculinity’ is so limited: boys have to like blue, be tough, like being dirty, do sports, be strong. In actuality, if liking theater, or sports for that matter, is your version of ‘masculinity,’ then that’s fine; same with ‘femininity,’ You get to determine who you are. I just don’t like the expectations that come with gender.”
Holmquist, who can often be found around campus repping an “end gender” sweatshirt, recognizes the fact that traditionally, his sport fits rather comfortably into society’s definition of “masculinity” and admits to feeling the pressures and expectations that come along with that at times, although he states that this does not affect his view of gender.
“Growing up, I’ve been what’s considered ‘masculine.’ I played sports, lifted weights, and none of that has changed; I still enjoy doing all of those things. However, now I find myself much more comfortable with who I am. I’m not afraid to say what I like, to say who I am, whether that fits into ‘social norms’ or not. I like bodybuilding because I like it, regardless of whether other people consider it ‘masculine’ or not. It is what it is.”