For Female Bodybuilding Fans, Workout Videos are Our Porn

The next generation of female bodybuilding, Shannon Courtney.

The next generation of female bodybuilding, Shannon Courtney.

We all have our own vices.

Some of us like to gamble. Others like to party “in da club” till the wee hours of the morning. There are some who enjoy high-fat and high-sugary foods a little too much. How about smoking? Or excessive drinking? Or, *gasp* hitting the Mary Jane a few times here and there?

Unless you’re an ascetic monk living high in the Tibetan mountains, most of us have vices that we’re either proud of or wish would remain a secret. But let’s face it. Unless your vice hurts someone else, what’s the true harm? I, for example, am not one to claim to be a police officer of “outstanding character.”

Another popular vice that many of us share is pornography. Whether we’re talking about late night pay-per-view skin flicks, dirty magazines, snuff films, or good-old-fashioned Internet porn, we all know what we’re dealing with. Porn is everywhere in our society. On the cover of magazines, in popular movies, in clothing store advertisements, in music videos…everywhere. Not just hidden underneath your mattress or behind the playground monkey bars. Both softcore and hardcore porn (however you define either term) is saturated in our culture.

It’s so saturated, we sometimes forget what we’re seeing. Most of us would point to a Jenna Jameson video and say with definitive confidence, “That’s porn!” However, we might look at a Beyoncé music video and say, “Well, it’s not quite porn, but it is quite risqué. I would say…that’s NOT porn.” Fair enough. Everyone has the right to hold their own standards.

The real definition of “pornography” is as follows: “Printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings.”

This photo of Lisa Cross might give me a heart attack if I stare at it long enough. But I'd die a happy man.

This photo of Lisa Cross might give me a heart attack if I stare at it long enough. But I’d die a happy man.

Basically, porn is media that’s intended to turn you on. It doesn’t have to be explicit. It doesn’t even have to be visual. Written erotica can constitute as porn if we assume a wide all-inclusive definition. Are risqué music videos or provocative fashion ads intended to sexually arouse you? Well, not primarily. They’re intended to persuade you to buy record albums and clothing. But if the adage that “sex sells” is true – which nobody would argue it isn’t – certainly eliciting an erotic response is one of the tactics used to convert advertising media to sales.

Alright. We’ve established that porn is everywhere. We’ve also discussed that porn can manifest itself in a variety of ways, not all of them explicit. Porn can also have objectives outside of just turning you on, such as convincing you to open your wallet and buy something. Other objectives could include persuading you to think about a social issue in a different way (nude PSAs by PETA, anyone?) or inspiring you toward self-improvement (pole dance aerobics isn’t just for exercise, people!).

This all ties in to female muscle fandom, trust me. What, did you think this post would be totally unrelated to what my blog is primarily about? I start with this simple question:

As a female muscle fan, what turns you on the most?

Many of us would answer with traditional responses like FBBs masturbating, FBBs having sex with scrawny guys (or each other), FBBs dancing around in the nude, FBBs glamorously posing in the nude, etc. Essentially, we get turned on by FBBs doing things in from of the camera that traditional looking women also do in mainstream porn. But if there’s one thing I understand about female muscle lovers, it’s that we’re especially turned on by something else entirely, something that’s not necessarily X-rated.

Workout videos.

Or, more specifically, videos of female bodybuilders doing what they do best: building their bodies at the gym.

When I say “workout videos,” the image that probably immediately pops into your head is that of what Denise Austin and Jane Fonda created in the 80s and 90s. Or maybe those old-school Tao Bo videos by Billy Blanks. Ah, yes. Those were the days. The good old days of cheesy music, bad camera angles, bright yellow stretch pants and enough sweat to fill a small lake. I can’t imagine what it must’ve smelled like in those studios. Yuck.

But, no. These are not the type of workout videos I am referring to. Instead, I’m referring to amateurish or semi-professional looking videos of female bodybuilders pumping iron in the gym. They could be shot on a cell phone camera, a store bought camcorder, or perhaps an actual professional-quality video camera. They could be shot for Flex magazine, Bodybuilding.com or for the FBB’s own personal brand. Quality notwithstanding, the idea stays the same: video footage of beautiful athletes doing what they do best.

For female bodybuilding fans, workout videos are our porn. They are what turns us on the most. They titillate us unlike any other media. We find them more arousing than videos that are explicitly sexual in nature. Sound strange? Let me explain what I’m talking about.

As female bodybuilding fans, we don’t just love the final product. Yes, of course images of Alina Popa or Lisa Cross looking ripped and contest-ready can be a divine spectacle to behold, but we’re just as interested in the process it took them to look that way in addition to drooling over how they eventually look.

What’s arousing about female bodybuilders isn’t just that they look so damn sexy, it’s also the fact that they have to bust their butt in order to look that good. There’s something about the strenuous nature of bodybuilding that makes these athletes so remarkable. Female bodybuilders are especially intriguing because their looks are both unconventional and supremely difficult to attain (and maintain).

This is why a grainy 90-second clip shot on an iPhone of a female bodybuilder, completely covered in sweat pants and an old t-shirt, squatting 300+ pounds is way more erotic than watching two silicone-enhanced teeny boppers sucking on each other’s clits with awful automated music playing in the background. If I were a sheltered teenage boy, the latter might excite me like no other. But as an adult, that stuff bores me to death. It’s unexciting. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s disgusting.

Watching two nameless 18-year-old women engaging in sex acts with total lack of interest or passion while moaning from an orgasm so fake it belongs in a can of Velveeta cheese isn’t erotic. It’s dumb. It’s an insult to my intelligence. It’s sophomoric. It’s a shame to the word “erotic.” I’m not necessarily knocking on those who actually like this sort of thing (I’m just kidding – I am knocking on you!), but get with the program, people! Doesn’t authenticity count for something anymore?

Ah, yes. Now we get to the heart of the matter. Authenticity. Workout videos are authentic. I’ve seen a fair share of fake or staged workout videos, but the ones that are real are so fun to watch because it gives you a brief glimpse into the process it takes to transform a woman’s body from “sexy” to “All-Powerful Goddess.”

If more women looked like Mavi Gioia at the gym, I'd go there every single day of my life.

If more women looked like Mavi Gioia at the gym, I’d go there every single day of my life.

But it’s not just about the process of becoming a bodybuilder or the authentic nature of these videos that excite us so much. There’s something unspeakably tantalizing about watching a woman work hard to achieve her dreams. Maybe it’s because a lot of us guys aren’t accustomed to seeing women lift heavy at the gym. There’s an Internet meme that says that “A girl in the gym is much hotter than a girl in the club.” I would agree with that wholeheartedly. But why do I feel that way exactly?

Maybe it goes back to the meritocratic nature of our society. We love female bodybuilders because they earn their beauty. Not every one of us is born with a beautiful face or flawless skin. But we can (to an extent) control the rest of us. A bodybuilder does exactly that. They are in complete control of their physical selves, even to the point that it becomes an obsession. A ripped body is something you earn with your sweat and labor. Mother Nature may not have given you other natural physical gifts, but if you want six-pack abs, you can go out and get it. If you have the willpower to do whatever is necessary to get it, of course.

Another reason why we love watching women lift is because it goes against our collective history. Historically, men were the laborers and women were the caretakers. Men were expected to do all the heavy lifting, both literally and figuratively. The fact that men are naturally stronger than women explains a lot of this. But these gendered roles still in many regards persist to the present day. So when we’re in the gym – and I should hurry up and say that the “workout video” thing could also apply to stealing peeks at women lifting at the gym – and we see a cute girl deadlifting more than her own bodyweight, it’s pretty damn sexy to watch. Very damn sexy.

Breaking the old rules of male/female roles? Making an effort to sculpt a sexy body instead of relying on plastic surgery, deceptive clothing (padded bras, for example) and heavily caked-on makeup? Yes, please!

Workout videos, and seeing up-close-and-personal women lifting heavy weights, are without a doubt our porn of choice. Regardless of the production values or quality of the video footage, this excites us more than anything. Here’s an example:

On Lisa Cross’ Facebook page, she’s uploaded a short video that illustrates exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a ridiculously short clip of her squatting a ton of weight on a hack squat machine. In the brief 41-second video, we can hardly even see Lisa. We can’t see her face. Nor her full figure. In fact, she’s as completely covered as a nun. No sexy revealing clothing. Nothing glamourous happening here. But she’s lifting a jaw-dropping amount of weight. And you can clearly hear her grunting as she squats up and down. Her heavy breathing isn’t exactly orgasmic, but its resemblance is impossible to ignore. But most important, you truly get the sense that she’s working her tail off. This isn’t showing off for the camera. This isn’t staged. This isn’t theatre of any sorts. This is authentic. She’s actually working out with the real intent of getting stronger and bigger. This is the master artist in action. She didn’t earn my nickname for her, “Lisa Cross, the British Bombshell,” just by sitting on her butt, watching TV and eating potato chips all day long. She’s a beautiful sexy Goddess because she’s willing to do the dirty work a lot of us aren’t too keen to do.

That might be the best explanation yet. The Dirty Work. Porn videos are also known as “dirty videos” because they show people engaging in unclean, filthy sex acts (as dubbed by certain folks). But ironically, workout videos of FBBs doing the dirty work of heavy lifting, grunting, sweating and torturing themselves for the sake of self-improvement are way more sexually exciting than watching two nameless bozos who can’t act have unemotional sex with each other. That stuff is a dime a dozen. Witnessing an elite female bodybuilder work on her craft is like watching Laurence Olivier perform Shakespeare, Luciano Pavarotti sing opera or Itzhak Perlman play the violin. You cannot look away from watching the elites do what they do best. The rest of us mortals can only stare and passively watch.

To reiterate a previous point, men who love muscular women aren’t just interested in the final product. We’re also interested in the process it took to achieve that final product. Workout videos, and other related media, excite us for reasons we can’t fully explain. Watching that video clip of Lisa Cross – and for the record, you can hardly even tell it’s actually Lisa! – genuinely gives me the chills. It makes my heart skip a beat. It’s a feeling I can’t explain, but every female muscle fan knows what I’m talking about. But it’s not just this particular clip. It’s the thousands of others like it.

Alina Popa doing leg lifts. Debi Laszewski doing lateral pulldowns. Colette Nelson bench pressing. Brandi Mae Akers doing bicep curls. Lindsay Mulinazzi deadlifting. Jana Linke-Sippl killing her arms on a bicep machine. Shannon Courtney punishing her rock-hard quads at the gym. Mavi Gioia doing triceps extensions. The list goes on. And these are videos that I’ve seen. No doubt there are countless more like them out there on the Internet ready for us to drool over.

The larger point is that female muscle fans love strong women for a variety of reasons. It’s not just about lust or appreciating a certain aesthetic. Female bodybuilders are unique in so many ways. They have a quality to them that’s almost impossible to describe, but equally impossible to ignore. Once you’re hooked, you instantly “get it.” You understand their appeal and even begin to wonder why you didn’t notice them earlier. I honestly cannot believe why I didn’t become attracted to FBBs sooner. I really started to notice them when I was 18 and a freshman in college. And how did it start? I was researching workout videos online and stumbled upon amateurish clips of beautiful women lifting at the gym.

Well, viola! There you go. For many of us, including me, workout videos were what got us hooked in the first place. So there’s a reason why they hold a special place in our hearts. The element of sentimental value is also at play here. Maybe that explains a lot. Maybe there’s something about witnessing a beautiful woman exert herself at the gym that lights a fire inside our souls. It begins the “Madness,” as the expert blogger Female Muscle Slave puts it.

Come to think of it, calling workout videos “porn” cheapens what they mean to us. “Porn” is what people view to fulfill a momentary sexual urge. Workout videos, on the other hand, have a more spiritual component attached to them. It’s like a music lover watching Sir Georg Solti conduct Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Or a great philosopher delivering a lecture on the state of the universe. It’s poetry in motion. Watching a strong, muscular woman lift is like a religious experience, or to put it in more easy-to-digest secular terms – it is art. Female bodybuilders are artists. And watching them lift is like watching a painter paint, or a sculptor sculpt, or a musician compose.

Female bodybuilders are masterpieces of human achievement. And witnessing them transform into who they are is as enticing as it gets. Just ask any one of us. All we can do it sit back, relax and indulge in the captivating beauty on full display before our eyes.

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10 thoughts on “For Female Bodybuilding Fans, Workout Videos are Our Porn

  1. Can you imagine working on the video crew of one of those ? A bunch of us would look like characters out of a Tex Avery cartoon turned flesh & blood !
    They wouldn’t have to pay me, I’d pay them. 🙂

      • Hmmm. What is the difference between a ” fitness model ” & A FBB ? I have never been 100 % clear about that. I’ve seen some fitness models who don’t really look like they’re in it for serious competition, but still have more muscle definition than the average male or female. There is clearly a difference, but the definitions elude me……

      • A ” Fitness model ” is REALLY more for ” show “, then.
        I was looking at photos of Jenny Poussin, for instance, she looks in pretty good shape, but you don’t see many photos of her actually lifting weights, flexing, using a treadmill or other exercise machine. As opposed to a person like Ronda Rousey.

  2. Dear Ryan,

    great post, aus always, and 100% true. 🙂

    But not 100% complete, as far as I am
    concerned.

    Because the aspect of displaying their awesome strength was not covered explicitly enough. I would say many of us absolutely love the sheer power of the ladies, especially when shown with moving heavy weights. I could freak out with a certain, uh, “greed”, when I see them doing this.

    xD

  3. I think we hetero males who love female muscle are the last sociosexual group to “come out”, or maybe we haven’t yet. We get haters calling us fags on video sites (esp. YouTube), but no MSM attention comparable to gays (okay, 10% of the population there) or transgender people (a tiny minority for sure).

    As a kid, maybe 8 or 9, I was stunned by a small file photo in the magazine section of the local (Toronto) Sunday paper. The mocking caption was “She’s trying to prove that women are stronger than men.” But the photo itself showed a woman in a weight-lifting singlet holding an Olympic-style barbell in a position that wasn’t quite a freeze-frame in the midst of a snatch or C & J. Although she had one leg bent in front and other thrown back to brace her, she was leaning back from her hips and holding the weight as though she were doing an incline press, but without the support of the bench. I instinctively recognized the great strain this was putting on many of her muscles, and that’s what turned me on even more than her muscularity. Hey, this was well before steroids hit the scene, and not even male bodybuilders could bulk up the way they do today.

    But I just couldn’t get this woman out of my mind. How did she get so strong, in an era when that was unheard-of? How did she arrange to pose for this photo? How did she find the courage to persist in the face of social disapproval? How did she support herself while she was training?

    Somewhere along the line there was an epiphany, when muscular women began to realize that we are out here and constitute a market for the kind of porn you so eloquently describe. Now, every muscular woman has a choice, just the way every conventionally pretty/sexy woman does. But back in the 1940s and 1950s, even “standard” porn was suppressed (it didn’t break out until the 1960s with “The Devil in Miss Jones” and “Deep Throat”), and photos of women performing feats of strength were few and far between. That’s why we all love Abbye Stockton!

    • Chyna ( AKA Joanie Laurer ) tried porn, but it was mostly parody, & even the adult entertainment industry panned it.

      I do love fitness girls & full – fledged FBBs, although the ones with an over – abundance of veins are just a trifle off – putting. But that’s just me. Your mileage may vary. & as I’ve stated before, I also like belly – dancers, as they require a certain amount of muscularity as well as coordination. There are some good ones from the Ukraine & E. Europe.

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