Joel Neale, manager at Fitness First, believes gym goers should not go for a quick fix. He says over-the counter supplements are overrated. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Is a damaged liver or the onset of heart disease price enough to pay for a rapid body makeover?

This is the question that individuals obsessed with the recreational use of steroids need to consider, says Ahmad Abbas, a qualified fitness trainer and physical therapist.

Liver damage or heart disease that result from the abuse of steroids does not matter to many obsessive gym goers, said Abbas. “The quick change in appearance is what they care about.”

“The problem is that gym goers lack patience and want to reach their goals easily.” said Abbas. “The quick change in appearance is what they care [more] about.”

The results that come with steroids for bodybuilding are more quickly visible as compared to a regimen of healthy diet and good exercise, but the former is not sustainable, he said.

Also, performance-enhancing drugs can be addictive. “It’s a vicious cycle and is very difficult to break,” said Abbas, “because it turns into an obsession once the person sees the great results. If they quit, they will quickly lose everything.”

“[Steroids] are associated with health complications and, in the long-run, the person who chooses not to take steroids will benefit more,” said Abbas.

Prince Amir Shafiypour, the three-time world Muay Thai boxing champion, who runs The Champion Club in Jumeirah Lakes Towers, also believes that people who quit steroids quickly lose their confidence and decide to get back to them again.

“Bodybuilders and gym goers resort to steroids because it maintains the water in the body and, as they train, it helps in pumping the muscles and that’s how it improves one’s muscle mass.”

He said at his gym where he runs martial arts training, members are after a healthy and not a bulky body.

“We work on educating members on the benefits of exercise and healthy nutrition as opposed to products like steroids. I believe people who don’t mind taking the risk are the ones who take steroids because everybody knows the health complications resulting from their use.”

Joel Neale, fitness manager at Fitness First, Motor City, believes gym goers should not be after a quick fix regarding muscle gain. “The stress on the body and the risks involved far outweigh the benefits,” said Neale. “Steroids should not be used [for recreational purposes] as it is illegal and they are extremely dangerous to use,” he said.

Only qualified medical professionals can administer them, said Neale, otherwise with incorrect dosages, steroids can cause irreversible health problems or, worse, even death sometimes.

Neale believes that people often confuse what is represented by the words “healthy” and “looking good”. “The biggest misconception is that the word ‘health’, means ‘looking good’. People [instead] should look at longevity and sustainability,” he said.

Having said that, he concedes that there will always be people who resort to steroids for the so-called aesthetic improvements.

These experts say that for bodybuilding enthusiasts, getting the required results is an easy goal without having to resort to extreme measures.

“To get the perfect physique, they do not need to go extremes with their exercises. It could be a 20-minute session every day, but there should be consistency and commitment for a minimum of three months. Within one month, a person begins to build a serious training mentality and habit. From the second month onwards, results slowly begin to show and, by the third month, changes become noticeable.”

Abbas adds that nutrition is an important part of the process.

“Breaking down the training into cycles, with each cycle having its goal, is key. A well-educated and qualified trainer would know how to arrange the programme. Overtraining will not yield good results and can cause injury. In order to have a scientific approach to training, it is recommended to have cycles with specific goals and techniques that help in reaching the desired results.”

As for the over-the-counter supplements that many take to build the body, Neale said they are “overrated”. “Those supplements are synthetic, they have benefits but not like the benefits found in natural food. They have a minimal effect on how the body will look. However, they can be recommended when the food consumed is not providing the person with enough energy for the training they are undergoing,” Abbas said.