Sam PageHunk alert: Fellas, gather around. Sam Page is an ex-Mormon, reformed porn star & L.A. trainer. Earlier this year, I interviewed Sam and his partner, Bronson for Ten Money Questions. He writes PeaceLoveLunges.com, a health and fitness blog where you’ll find everything from gay inspiration with his guycandy posts to his video interview with Kathy Griffin in Bora, Bora.

Sam’s training motto is “fitness through inspiration, not intimidation,” which reflects his belief that total health is available to everyone, regardless of his or her present condition. He also thinks that muscle is currency. If that’s the case, then you just might want to make a deposit at the Bank of Sam. These are his words…

Years ago, I was in a relationship with a very muscular, worked out guy who was adored by all of our friends for his Adonis-like physique.

James (not his real name) spent hours in the gym each week working every muscle group to failure. Even my friend Paul who rarely gushes over anyone told me that he “had the best body of anyone he’d ever seen.”

His diet was strict. His collection of bodybuilder photos numbered in the thousands. He supplemented with amino acids and protein drinks several times throughout the day.

I was fascinated with James because he had the body that everyone, including me at the time, wanted. Perfectly rounded muscles, bubble butt, six-pack. “I love muscle,” he’d say. I was in the weight room twice a day, seven days a week, just to keep up.

One night at the dinner table, I asked him to explain how it was that he spent so much time and energy on his body. He reflected, and very serious look came across his face.

“Because” he said, “Muscle is currency in the gay world. It opens doors to people, places, and experiences you never would have otherwise.”

Muscle is currency? His theory was at once compelling and troubling to me. Yet, the statement has stuck with me over the years as I’ve evaluated it to see if it held up against situations and circumstances.

It seems true that for a man, masculinity is equated with the development of one’s body. The bigger or more developed your muscles, the more of a “man” you are.

The belief surrounds us. A glance over any magazine rack proves this: every cover of the major fitness magazines feature ripped, jacked-up men with chiseled abs, 16-inch arms and 50-inch chests. Straight male friends have privately expressed to Bronson and me their growing frustration with the vainglorious male imagery that permeates popular culture, from the underwear aisle at Macy’s to posters for feature films like The Dark Knight, 300 and Superman. For women, it’s all about being that size zero. Thin is in. The more slender her thighs, the more desirable she’s thought to be.

Beauty is considered valuable—men and women, gay or straight. Maybe that’s the actual currency. But what if true beauty was taking care of yourself — taking yourself to a place of “optimum” health.

Isn’t it beautiful to be able to take your grandchild for a long hike in a national parks, and have endurance and flexibility enough to do so?

Or how spectacular it must be to ride your bicycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money for AIDS, being able to pedal each of the 570 miles all the way to the finish line.

I say: beauty is finishing a yoga class, a tough hour in the weight room, or a triathlon. Beauty is fitting into jeans that you haven’t worn in years.

I say: true beauty is optimum health. It may not get you on to the cover of a magazine, invited to a pool party, or make you a celebrity—then again, it just might.

More about Sam Page
Sam Page is the 33-year-old man behind Sam Page Fitness, operating three private training studios in Southern California. He was co-founder and publisher of HERO, a national magazine for gay men. Post-publishing, he appeared as the lead in Ronnie Larsen’s stage play, “My Boyfriend, the Stripper,” then directed by Wash West in the GayVN award winning mockumentary, “The Hole,” and finally, a centerfold in Playgirl. An ex-Mormon, Sam’s health & fitness writing is syndicated worldwide but always appears first on his blog, PeaceLoveLunges.com. He happens to think the hottest man in the room is his husband.