46-year-old Harold Chery is a pro bodybuilder and trainer. At 5’8″, he’s packing 275 pounds of big, hard muscle and bench presses more than double that.
“I just like the way it makes me feel. Especially with kids they look at you like you’re a superhero!” said Harold Chery. But Harold admits he didn’t always look or feel like Superman or the Incredible Hulk. A coach in high school told him he was just too small and those words had a lasting impact.
“When I started at 105, I’d say I want to be at 150, get to 150, no that’s not big enough. I want to be 180. Then 180 is not big enough. It’s almost addicting when you don’t train. You feel really bad when you don’t go. Even if you’re sick and don’t go. Sometimes when you come back, you feel better.”
Harold says he sees it all the time in the sport. Guys who are out of control, lifting, curling, benching, too much is never enough. It’s something called muscle dysmorphia or “bigorexia.” It affects hundreds of thousands and is often referred to as “reverse anorexia.”
Bigorexia affects mostly men. Signs include odd behaviors like excessively looking in the mirror, overly strict diets and constantly comparing yourself to others, Low self-esteem and spending hours upon hours at the gym.
And unlike Harold, bigorexics don’t always want to flaunt it. “Actually, they’re very shy. Most of them are not the ones that will go out and take their shirts off in front of people.” said Theresa Finer a therapist.
Some go farther, missing work or important events, even putting their lives in danger. “They’ll still continue to try to build their muscle mass despite, and even with a broken bone. They’ll even break bones.”, said Finer.
For Harold, it’s mostly about work. He has as many as ten clients a day, and somehow manages to squeeze in about an hour and a half for himself.