Dressed in a sexy little black dress and killer heels, Rubie Poonia stared at
her mobile phone in disbelief.
It was 7.45pm and her boyfriend, Mike Lopez, had just called to cancel a
romantic night out. Again. Rubie was beginning to suspect her boyfriend was
cheating. She quizzed mutual friends and eventually discovered Mike’s other
woman was, in fact, the gym.
“He was literally obsessed with his appearance,” says Rubie, 28. “He’d cancel
arrangements to spend hours at the gym.
He was always worried about how his body looked, what his hair was like, what
he ate. He was worse than any of the women I know.”
Ironically, it was Mike’s body that first attracted Rubie when they met last
“Mike was a doorman at a club in our hometown of Bournemouth,” she recalls.
“We got chatting and I thought he was really lovely. A few days later he
asked me out. He had an amazing body – the first time he took his top off, I
couldn’t wait to touch his pecs!”
At first, the couple saw each other only a couple of times a week, so Rubie,
who runs her own events-organising company, had no idea of the price Mike,
28, was paying for his physique. He was spending every spare hour in the
gym, as well as using the unlicensed tanning drug Melanotan.Trials of this
drug were halted in the US amid safety concerns and experts have warned
against using it. But Mike isn’t concerned, saying: “I don’t worry about my
body – I think of it as look good now, worry about it later.”
It wasn’t long before Mike’s obsession impacted on their relationship.
“I was lucky if I got half an hour with him between gym sessions. He refused
to put me first,” Rubie says.
But she was determined to make it work. Even when Mike cancelled a holiday to
Egypt in March because he wanted to go to an exercise camp called New You
Boot Camp, she tried to understand. But two months ago, she finally cracked
when he pulled out of her parents’ 30th wedding anniversary to train for
another boot camp.
“I wanted him there. I’d been let down once too often so I told him it was
over. He begged me to reconsider, but my mind was made up,” she says.¿
Mike is now a personal trainer so he can work out on the job. “I started going
to the gym when I was 18 because I was so skinny and was overlooked by girls
who preferred more muscular men,” he says. “I became addicted to the buzz of
seeing my body change. Men are under huge pressure nowadays – David Beckham
and Freddie Ljungberg look amazing. I’d do my research first, but I’d
consider anti-ageing surgery in the future.”
But despite going to extreme lengths to look good, Mike won’t consider
boosting his physique further with steroids, saying: “I don’t like the way
they affect people – you can get really aggressive and I don’t want to be
“Now most of my relationships only last a few weeks as girls want to
be put first and I can’t commit to that. I know people will find it hard to
understand, but looking good is my priority – not women.”
Salesman James Broad, 31, from Bristol, has been taking steroids to beef up
his body for more than four years – despite them zapping his sex drive and
leaving his girlfriend, Nikki Cox, 40, fed up and frustrated.
James injects himself with steroids a couple of times a weeks for two months
before taking a four-month break.
Nikki, who works in a supermarket, says she didn’t like it when he started
taking them, but James is too obsessed with his body to quit.
“The steroids take his mojo away and sex is the last thing on his mind. It’s
frustrating, but as he doesn’t take them all the time, we work around
it. He’s a perfectionist and says they make a difference so he won’t give
James admits that using steroids leaves him exhausted, although he suffers no
other side effects and says he can handle how they make him feel.
“I’d always refused to use steroids, but I hit a plateau trying to bulk up and
decided to give them a go. After using them a few times I put on 3st of
“The fact I don’t want to have sex does cause problems. I know a lot of people
in my position have the same problem – they’re just so exhausted.”
James began working out at the age of 21, when a girlfriend mocked his ‘wimpy’
10st body. Despite warnings from his doctor about steroids, he loves how
they make his body look – but admits he “still wants to be even bigger”.
The couple have been dating for three years, after meeting in the gym, but
have no plans to move in together. Not that Nikki would see any more of
James – his days revolve around his physique.
He gets up at 6am to exercise and eats a high-protein diet, but “cheats” once
a week with a takeaway or meal out.
Last year his obsession came close to tearing their relationship apart.
“He was going to the gym every day, sometimes twice. I hardly ever saw him,”
says Nikki. “He was exhausted, cranky, and it caused big rows. I felt like I
wasn’t a priority any more, so decided to end it.”
At the same time, James tore muscles in his shoulder, which left him unable to
train, and Nikki gave their relationship another chance. Now James has cut
down on his exercise but still goes to the gym most days. Nikki says: “If I
want to be with him I have to learn to live with it – he’s not going to
‘I HAVE MORE BEAUTY PRODUCTS THAN MY GIRLFRIEND’
Model David White, 25, from Cambridge, admits he’s obsessed with keeping
his body looking perfect.
“I go to the gym five times a week for an hour at a time, do nearly 100
sit-ups every day, use sunbeds and eat a strict high-protein diet. I
probably have more beauty products than my girlfriend!” he says.
“I think the average bloke these days does want to look good. We have a lot to
live up to, with topless men on the covers of so many magazines. Women do
expect their guys to look good and take care of themselves. I got into
looking after myself a few years ago. I was travelling in Australia and
modelled to pay the bills. It was really lucrative.
“When I returned to the UK I bulked up to get into sports modelling. Now I
work for Reebok, Men’s Fitness magazine and Adidas.”
Although he’s obsessed with taking care of himself, David draws the line at
steroids and surgery.
“I don’t think I’d have surgery to look good, even when I get older. But I
would have my teeth whitened. It’s just the same as going to the
hairdressers!” he says.
David’s girlfriend of 18 months, student Naomi Rose, 22, works out and also
goes to the gym five times a week. She says: “We don’t go out as much as I’d
like as he has to watch his diet and that can be a pain, but it just makes
it more special when we do.
“Admittedly he does get admired a lot by other women and I try not to let it
bother me – he’s a good-looking man so I can understand why. But if he ever
gets too big for his boots or I catch him checking out his reflection in a
car window, I soon put him in his place by having a good laugh at him.”
THE TRUTH ABOUT ANABOLIC STEROIDS
In the quest for a quick-fix perfect body, some men are turning to dangerous
anabolic steroids – which can cause aggression, paranoia and sterility.
“Studies show 21st-century man is more concerned than ever about his
appearance,” says sports scientist Ross Edgley. “Just like women, they are
now being bombarded by images of the ‘perfect’ body.
“And central to this is how muscly they are. The rise of muscle dysmorphia –
the feeling that a man is not muscular enough – means many are going to the
gym for hours on end and some even use steroids.”
Worryingly, many men see steroids as a quick-fix way to a beefcake body –
regardless of the risks.
Maxine Lewis, a project worker with a London drugs programme, agrees steroid
abuse has reached dangerously high levels.
“Taking anabolic steroids can stop the body from developing, stunt growth and
cause terrible side effects such as premature ageing, baldness and man
boobs,” she says.
Despite this, steroids are easy to get hold of either over the internet or in
gyms themselves – for as little as £20 for 100 tablets.
- Anabolic steroids are Class C drugs and contain artificial testosterone, the
hormone responsible for producing male characteristics.
- The drugs are only available with a prescription, however it is legal to
possess or import them for personal use.
- Possession or importing the drug with intent to supply is illegal and could
lead to 14 years in prison and an unlimited fine.
PHOTOGRAPHY: LANCTON HAIR & MAKE-UP:
SARA BOWDEN AND KELLIE MITCHELL STYLING: LUCIE CLIFFORD RUBIE WEARS: TOP,
NEW LOOK; JEANS, PRIMARK; SHOES, JONES BOOTMAKER MIKE WEARS: SHORTS, NIKE AT
DEBENHAMS; HIS OWN TRAINERS JAMES AND NIKKI WEAR: THEIR OWN CLOTHES NAOMI
WEARS: TOP, MAX C; JEANS, DOROTHY PERKINS; SHOES, RIVER ISLAND DAVID WEARS:
SHORTS, ADIDAS AT DEBENHAMS; HIS OWN TRAINERS FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT NEW
YOU BOOT CAMP, VISIT NEWYOUBOOTCAMP.COM