Paul Baxendale

From Bodybuilding to Philosophy

New Life and Physique Coaching

A Quest For Truth with Paul Baxendale

In a world full of change and uncertainties, questions or notions of there being something as certain as truth has become lost in post-modernity. New Technology, changing societal narratives and celebrity cultures challenge perceptions and perspectives to the point where everything is at risk of de-constructing any notion of such a thing as truth is even possible.

“Work nourishes noble minds”

Seneca, Moral Letters, 31.5

A lifetime of living, of studying, of learning, of making mistakes, of victories, of defeats and ultimately disability finally led to me delving into the depths of history, literature, philosophy, mythology and spirituality. That journey has suggested that there are, perhaps, some fundamental truths that have emerged from the dawn of civilisation told to us through oral stories originally then through the great mythologies of the Greco-Roman world and the great religions of the world. Those mythologies and spiritual stories have been re-told through great literature ever since and it is these classic books on our literary shelves that hold some of those great truths still.

Truths, I truly believe, when heard, ring bells within us; they resonate at a deeply spiritual level, one that moves our heart and spurs us to take action to emulate the characteristics we deem worthy of within the heroes, heroines, jokers, kings and queens, warriors and peace-makers we read about. Western Christianity would claim that Jesus is the ultimate role model; however, since Nietzsche claimed ‘God is dead. And we have killed Him.’ God, in society, has become ever less relevant in society; without God, to who are we accountable to?

"Truth Does Not Lie on the Surface"


Perhaps at some point we can, or you may already, believe in a deity, God, in whatever form an individual chooses to envisage his/her form. Perhaps using the knowledge of the great truths of the world we can find some positive fire again with which to forge our lives and pursue our true purposes. Notice I did not say ‘happiness’ or ‘success’; for I believe that without pursuing your true purpose you will never find either that which you seek but also that which you were placed on this earth for. Happiness is, at best, a fleeting emotion that we should embrace should it come our way but it never lasts long and isn’t meant to for it is only in our purpose that we will find that role which was destined for only us; that which will be our legacy long after our time on earth is done.
Please join me as I delve through my memories of my bodybuilding days of lifting iron in spit and sawdust gyms, training with Mr Olympia, Dorian Yates back in 93/94, owning gyms, winning titles and then retiring from the sport I gave my entire early life too, to emigrating to Australia, beginning new starts, business, charities and a spiritual path. Then back to the UK again, after stops in Hawaii and Singapore along the way only to have an accident to find myself disabled physically, having to reassess my purpose in life and asking myself how I was to fulfil that both physically and mentally. My quest is no more important nor less important than anyone else’s; it is colourful, hard, full of learning hard lessons, discipline, punishing training, meeting great role models and characters. It is also full of many funny moments that breathe humour into life that we all need. Yours will be different but likely that you will experience both hardships and failures along with good times and victories.

“First tell yourself what kind of person you want to be, then do what you have to do. For in nearly every pursuit we see this to be the case. Those in athletic pursuit first choose the sport they want and then they do the work”

Epictetus, Discourses 3.23. 1-2a.

From champion bodybuilder to academic scholar was an interesting and eventful journey, and not without pain, heartache, frustration and dark moments where every physical movement I made resulted in pain……..But from Homer to Aurelius; from Aristophanes to Epictetus; from Shelley to Wordsworth and Jung to Freud, my appetite for learning increased to where I now am never without a book with me. I still am in pain but I wouldn’t change my life for the world! And, the more I learn; yes, of course the more I realise I do not know. However, along the way I have picked up some wisdom from each discipline that I studied; for example from the Stoics that I read each morning as a reminder to ‘remain the person that philosophy wished to make’ to then later in the day, I read a classic…..whether it is Dostoevsky, Hemingway, Woolf or any of the great wordsmiths. These are where my ideas are allowed to thrive; then when I think I have understood them sufficiently, which can take months, I discuss them with a friend, a true friend.

“As you move forward along the path of reason, people will stand in your way. They will never be able to keep you from doing what’s sound, so don’t let them knock out your goodwill for them.”

Marcus Aurelius - Meditations, 11.9.

Friendship should always make you a better person than you would be without them; rather than placate your views and feelings, a true friend will always act like steel against steel, hardening itself, sharpening its edge. They will share their truths with you, challenge you where they disagree and allow you to each pull at the separate threads of the beliefs you each hold in an effort to eventually get to the point where we both have teased everything out of the discussion. We may even end up disagreeing still but we will also end with even greater respect for each other and greater love knowing they truly have your best interests in their heart.
Welcome to our family, our community; if you are here to hear myths that may provide clues as to life’s fundamental truths you are welcomed with open heart; if you are here to listen about old school bodybuilding, again, welcome, I hope you enjoy the stories many of ‘Blood and Guts’ in our dungeon, ‘Temple Gym’. Or maybe you enjoy hearing stories of the great old school bodybuilders of the 80s,90s and 2000’s who I had the pleasure and privilege to meet and spend time with. If, perhaps, you are not sure why you are here, please stay a while, listen to a podcast or two and decide whether this is a place where you would enjoy, a place to be accepted whoever you are, a place where you will be challenged about your beliefs but listened to no matter how they differ. A place where we seek the truth, the truth of humankind….that, which from the dawn of creation has remained consistent for it has kept us alive in times where we were at risk of predators and then of warring tribes, a time where the gods ruled the skies and Mother Nature the earth, to the religious scripts of the East, West, North and South and everything in between and since.

“But what does Socrates say?’Just as one person delights in improving his farm, and another his horse, so I delight in attending to my own improvement day by day”

Epictetus, Discourses, 3.5.14

I sincerely hope that wherever it is you are in life, it isn’t after having a life changing accident such as happened to me when a set of stairs collapsed under me; but, in all honesty, it’s irrelevant. Whether you are looking for clues for how to live your most fulfilled life possible; whether you wish to learn what the Stoics had to say about life and living; what Homer’s great tales may have to tell us about living as a true ‘hero’ archetype, one that not only serves you but your family and your community, maybe even your country. I belief there are clues in these texts, clues often laid down in metaphors and allegories to be pondered over and time of thought needed in order to understand their message fully. Whether you wish to become the greatest bodybuilder and the greatest person you can be; or the greatest artist, engineer, nurse, surgeon it matters not as long as this is your purpose; be it and be also the greatest man or woman you can be also.

“Show me that the good life doesn’t consist in its length, but in its use, and that it is possible - no, entirely too common - for a person who has had a long life to have lived too little.”

Seneca, Moral Letters, 49.10b

To learn more about the themes and some of the people we shall be discussing, as a start, please feel free to click the links above for essay’s written on various topics and some stories to get you started in understanding my own quest. Each and every podcast on my YouTube channel will be available free from this website so help yourself and listen to some of the world’s greats at their chosen crafts while I discuss with them our own personal relationships and try and understand what it is that makes them great. Greatness is never coincidence, clues are always left for others to learn from….and they normally come with a few humorous stories along the way! Enjoy, but always remember, there are always…

“Three More Reps!!!”

Dorian Yates, Temple Gym, October 1993.

Paul Baxendale - From Bodybuilding to Philosophy

Welcome, my friend,

Paul Baxendale

"Indeed, no one can thwart the purpose of your mind – for they can’t be touched by fire, steel, tyranny, slander or anything."

Marcus Aurelius (Meditations, 8.41)