‘No one’s going to buy steroids for a home workout’: the impact of the national lockdown on hardcore gym users, anabolic steroid consumption and the image and performance enhancing drugs market
2020 has proven to be an unprecedented year for all of us, as the ‘new normal’ of lockdown, the challenges of home schooling and the realities of living through a global pandemic have raised fundamental questions about the structure of our society and made us evaluate how we live. But how has the COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent restrictions upon public life, affected those of the population whose lives are contoured around the gym and bodywork? Utilising data precured through semi-structured interviews with image and performance enhancing drug-using bodybuilders as part of the author’s PhD research, this article sets out to provide a glimpse into the realities of life in the hardcore fitness community in 2020. First, the impact of lockdown on the men’s training will be explored, and their flouting of the restrictions will be described. Following this, the sample’s IPED consumption during this period will be examined, noting an overall reduction in use and a homogenisation of their favoured substances. Finally, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the IPED market itself will be explored, wherein the sample’s accounts of panic-buying, supply chain issues and declining demand will be presented. Ultimately, whilst not entirely generalisable given the modest sample size, it is hoped that this article will serve to paint a picture of life under lockdown for the most committed gym users in the population, and follow the community’s challenges during the ‘longest year’.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Nicholas Gibbs
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