Catholic and a bodybuilder?


Hello everyone, I am new here so please go easy on me. I am a 22 year old male and though I was brought up a “Catholic”, our family did not do a great job of fallowing God. In recent years I have been drawn back to God and will be starting the RCIA process soon which I am VERY EXCITED about! Now that you know a little about me I would like to ask a question: Is it possible to be Catholic and a bodybuilder? This may seem like an odd question but there are some things that people don’t know about bodybuilders that lead me to believe that I can and some that make me question it as well.

First and foremost, I am and always will be drug free. This means that I do not, have not and will not take any of the dangerous drugs that some bodybuilders take such as Steroids. This means I am free of that sin. With that being said, bodybuilding is a very large commitment. One can even say that it is a very selfish thing to do since all that one really does is weigh train, eat and sleep. The days are spent focusing on eating enough calories and training properly and making progress in muscular size. This sounds and IS very selfish.

The good news however is that NATURAL bodybuilders (which I am) tend to be very healthy, very happy and very enthusiastic people who don’t stay out late and go to parties or drink or do drugs and who’s main concern is… health and fitness both for themselves and others.

This is where my problem lies… I cannot shake the feeling that this is ultimately selfish. However, I could justify doing it if only I could see that God would approve… I don’t see why God would not want me to be my physically best but I can see how he wouldn’t want me to be selfish in doing so. I just wish that there were some way to please God with this. That there may be a way that God may be given Glory through my decision… I just can’t figure out how.

Any comments on this would be very appreciated and I thank you very much for your time.

May God be with all,



Hi Cory,

You sound like a basically good guy: you have a conscience. How’s that for going easy on you? Now, let’s see if we can help you to follow it. Certainly, the Church is all in favor of maintaining one’s health. Your conscience is ok with this also. However, obsessing on any one aspect of ourselves is to neglect to a degree the rest of ourselves. People do this with obsessing with work, or status, or control or eating or not eating, etc. It’s a matter of imbalance.

Bodybuilding is not a vocation. We exist for more than that. Your concern that it feels selfish indicates that you are aware that something is off kilter. To give such attention to one’s body is to make a kind of god out of it. Now if it were Christ’s body that you were giving such attention to, there would be no problem at all—because He IS God. In fact, I suggest that you give some serious thought to how He has related to us through His body. It was sacrificial all the way. He has loved us with His body to the point of dying on the cross.

I suggest that you eat well and keep a regimen of exercise to maintain your health.
But the time you have used for bodybuilding, I suggest you spend reflecting on each of the sufferings He endured in His passion and thank Him. I further suggest that you do this before the tabernacle—but before a crucifix will do. I guarantee that this will not make you feel selfish. On the contrary; it will give your life balance and peace because this IS your vocation. Every part of your life will fall into place.

I will remember you during my daily hour before the Blessed Sacrament at 2 a.m. Believe me—it works!

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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