Pitzer First-Year’s Podcast Reorients Male Vulnerability Within Fitness Conversation
Maddie Wilson | Feb. 8, 2018, 11:12 p.m.
With an impressive 4,100 followers on Instagram, a highly informative podcast, and a unique story, Caleb Spiro PZ ’21 has certainly been making an impact on campus since his arrival last fall. In his podcast, “Stronger Self Radio,” Spiro discusses fitness, self-growth, mental health, and everything in between.
Throughout much of high school in Portland, Oregon, Spiro was incessantly bullied, which led to intense bouts of sadness and low-self esteem. Out of fear of being judged by others, especially by his loved ones, Spiro found it difficult to open up to others about his personal struggles. What changed for the then fifteen-year-old was a newfound passion — for fitness.
“The gym was my zone for ‘me time’ and no matter what day I was having, I think the consistency of going to the gym forced me to embrace my discomfort with pain, and since then, I continuously seek to be uncomfortable,” Spiro said. “People don’t understand that the gym is actually something that can impact your life.”
Not only has the act of going to the gym given Spiro a more profound sense of purpose, it’s allowed him to discover his “strongest self.”
“It’s changed my life in such a significant way that I can’t imagine my life without it. ... It’s not something that I do, it’s something that I am,” Spiro said.
Spiro’s podcast only began two months ago, but he’s already covered a variety of topics from fitness and well-being to business and personal development. With five episodes out and a new episode released every week, the podcast has hosted bodybuilding influencers such as Valentina Esteban, Hansika Silva, and Brian Decosta.
At the end of every podcast, Spiro asks listeners the question he’s been asking himself throughout his journey: What does it mean to pursue a stronger self?
For Spiro, his podcast is much more than his following or the emails he constantly sends out to invite guests onto his show. In fact, it’s about highlighting the value of strength as a means of overcoming every challenge.
“Struggle doesn’t make you weak; struggle makes you strong,” Spiro said. “And what’s beautiful about this [process] is that so many people want to make this movement happen.”
In the process of educating himself about fitness and the self-help industry, Spiro has also discovered some serious flaws within the fitness arena. He cited a lack of integration of mental health into the system and not enough emphasis on the importance of embracing vulnerability as a means of promoting self-growth.
As an avid user of platforms like Instagram, Spiro views social media as the main culprit of these pitfalls. Although Spiro says it is often easy to categorize social media as “a net negative,” he firmly believes there is always room for positive growth.
“I would stand behind the strong judgment that social media is generally a negative thing,” Spiro said. “But that doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on it. Because I think it has incredible potential.”
In his pursuit of constructing a more authentic conversation surrounding fitness and mental health, Spiro also seeks to foster an environment in which vulnerability can be used as a way to redefine masculinity.
In his second episode from “Stronger Self Radio,” Decosta discusses the value of voicing his personal struggles and how this process has made him more comfortable with being vulnerable. Like Decosta, Spiro has found solace in being open about his uphill battles but believes masculinity to be the root cause of most men’s complicated relationship with vulnerability.
“There is so much power that men hold in society, and I don’t think we always realize it, and we abuse it,” Spiro said. “We’re given portrayals such as Batman for example who embody qualities, such as stoicism, and I don’t think that’s a bad quality, but what makes it bad is the emphasis on the lack of vulnerability.”
By attempting to redefine masculinity, Spiro brings to life a more charged conversation about fitness and well-being.
“I don’t want to be a mannequin that’s preaching the same thing [if] I’m not adding value,” Spiro said. “In the world of social media, people want to trust you and buy into your product, especially when they know it’s something different and authentic.”