Aesthetic perfection is no mean feat and some would argue such a thing is unachievable in the first place yet it is something all those in Aaron Shuman’s chosen vocation strive for every day.
On top of that, Shuman, 17, from Table View, has the added pressure (or some may say advantage) of walking in his mother and father’s footsteps. They are both fitness professionals, seasoned competitors and expert motivators so when it comes to the sport of body building, Aaron is in good company.
Although he feels that he never started down this path with the intention of competing, the goal quickly shifted from simply wanting to find out how far he could push himself, to a desire to test his mettle on stage, and it paid off handsomely from the word go. In his first competition, held in the Overberg a few short months ago, he walked away with gold in the under-19 open weight class, gold in the men’s novice division and a silver in the men’s bantamweight division.
Having been involved in the sport for more than 20 years, Aaron’s dad, Anton, loves that his son has found a passion in the family trade and says that although they never set out to put any pressure on him to follow in their wake, the fact that he has come into it now is a great chance for them to see how far they can push the boundaries.
“This sport is all about development, not just of the body but of the athlete as a whole and we have set about achieving our goals and defining our vision, knowing that it will take hard work and perseverance.
“Even though Aaron only started on this path this year, it is amazing to see the progress we have made in such a short time. Having mom and dad in the industry, we always stressed that if he was going to do this he had to be who he wanted to be and not feel any pressure. For us it was all about the personal transformation and one of the best things for me as his coach and father was seeing him go to the mirror and amaze himself with what he is capable of and the progress he was making,” said Anton.
With juniors usually competing in under-21 and under-23 divisions, the pair were happy to find a competition with an under-19 division in which Aaron could really test the proverbial waters and with that goal in mind, they set about readying themselves for the task.
“When I first started gymming my intention wasn’t to compete but my dad said I have what it takes. He is a major role model and has added that extra drive and fuel in this sport.
“We found the Overberg regional event and entered. Even there my goal wasn’t to win it but to experience what it was like to actually get up on stage in front of the judges. I have never experienced anything like it in my life and winning my division was just an added bonus.
“I haven’t really thought too much about where I would like to take myself in this sport but I do know I want to make this my life. I have always been taught to believe that anything is possible and I feel that this is just what I am meant to be doing,” said Aaron.
Although some detractors point out that the sport has become something that makes you look only as far as the surface, the Shumans believe there is more to it all than being skin deep. In the end, the sacrifices are lessons and the achievements are testament to the commitment to the goal, just as in any other sport. Of course, Aaron has some practical tips for anyone interested in taking on the same challenges.
“It is important to surround yourself with people who will help you achieve the correct mindset. You need to find people who can drive you to become the best version of yourself.
“I feel that it is very important not to compare yourself to others and to break yourself down. In the end you only need to beat yourself to know that you have won. Of course, as with anything, make sure you set realistic goals and do whatever it takes to achieve them.
“My dream is to one day go to SA’s and see how I do there. I really do feel like I could turn this into my career, in terms of competing but also in terms of living this lifestyle. Everyone has their passion and this is my way of expressing my own art,” he said.