Bodybuilder says 'fit-shaming hurts' after being mocked for his ripped physique

Family of bodybuilders show their regular training routine

A bodybuilder has spoken out about "fit-shaming", saying abuse about his appearance has left him "cowering down to try and hide".

Martial arts teacher Colin Wolf, 45, said he'd been "made fun of in public for not eating cake" but argued that "fit-shaming hurts people in shape just as much as anyone else".

Speaking to the Press Association, he explained how he struggled with his body earlier in life and that he was "always underweight". This made him feel embarrassed to take his shirt off in his teenage years due to having "hardly any muscle."

No matter what he did, he said it was "virtually impossible" for him to gain weight, which resulted in taunts from high school kids. But, in his mid-20s, Colin discovered weightlifting, which changed everything.

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He now competes in bodybuilding competitions and is "extremely lean" – however, he says he is still criticised for leading a healthy and disciplined lifestyle.

"Fit-shaming hurts people in shape just as much as anyone else," Colin, who is from Idaho, said. "It can lead to body dysmorphia or other destructive practices."

He said prejudice and discrimination "apply to all groups, not just some."

Colin before and after his body transformationPA

Colin said his new diet, which consisted of eating more protein and less sugary-filled snacks or carbs, resulted in him being mocked.

"I would get made fun of in public for not eating cake… or I would get told, ‘You don’t want to get in too good a shape’, or, ‘You don’t want to put on too much muscle’."

"One of the other popular things was, ‘you’re already in shape, why do you still go to the gym?’"

Within the first year of training, predominantly focusing on weight lifting and modifying his diet, Colin gained approximately 30 lbs in muscle. He now weighs around 180 lbs.

Colin said he "never thought (he) would gain weight", and he is "very proud" of his achievements.

He has since gone on to participate in Men’s Physique competitions, placing second in his very first show at 41 years old, and he continues to do martial arts to this day and teach others.

Colin said that "it’s so much about just believing you can and not giving up", even when faced with setbacks and criticism such as "fit-shaming".

He argues that fit-shaming 'hurts people in shape just as much as anyone else'PA

He feels that muscular people are misperceived as "arrogant", and many think it is "acceptable" to say hurtful things, but in reality, those who are in shape still can have body confidence issues.

He added: "People think that someone who’s muscular almost deserves (the abuse)."

But Colin, who also has a degree in psychology and works in HR, has implemented his learnings in his own teaching and now runs a fitness company called Wolf Fitness Academy.

He continued: "It’s taken me years to figure out the science and, more importantly, the psychology of training to get my body to look the way it does.

"I go to the gym a lot less than people think I do, but it’s about being efficient and focused rather than the amount of time training.

"I’ve studied psychology, and I use that when I train someone as much as the physical part."

Colin believes that one of the biggest fitness misconceptions is that "genetics completely control you", and he thinks that anyone can "make a drastic transformation" with self-belief and discipline.

He said he would urge anyone who has faced criticism or who lacks self-belief to focus on setting the right goals, being consistent, and following instructors and influencers they trust online.

"Regardless of your genetics or background, you can make a drastic transformation," he said.

"Find simple goals to reach, like one push-up or pull-up, and if you can do one, then you can build on that for easier goals.

"Everyone starts from scratch – Mike Tyson, Michael Jordan, they all started from one punch or one dribble.

"Once you see you can reach that goal, then if you maintain discipline to train, you can reach the higher goals.

"You can change anything if you have the proper knowledge and tools and the belief in yourself that you can reach that."

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