Boys grow up to be men; there is virtually nothing that can be done to change this outcome. However, for a boy to grow up to be a real man there are principles of education, character, exercise and discipline that he must learn.
The manly men that are presented to most boys and young men in popular culture, and even to adult men who are still unlearned and gullible, are usually gross misrepresentations of manly qualities that any male would be better off not seeing. Becoming a real man entails the acquisition of certain characteristics, and the poor models that most boys are given usually have the most superficial ones along with a plethora of incidental characteristics such asbig muscles, power and an ego.
This is not to say that a real man would be less of a man if he were to be rich or powerful, but these are incidental just as the mere possession of a treadmill does not make a man physically fit. For a man to be a real man there are character traits that must be formed, and superficial traits cannot replace them.
Physical exercise is probably one of the least understood principles in the life of a boy. A boy in school sees his PE time as a second recess, a teenage boy sees his PE time as a chance to show off and gain popularity, and a man who is graduated from the schooling system often sees his physical fitness as a sign of masculinity and manliness.
Good physical fitness is often a characteristic of a real man, but for different reasons than one might think. Just like the intentions and thoughts of the perpetrator of a grave crime will determine his outcome in the judicial courts, the thoughts and intents of a boy or man concerning his physical fitness will work to determine his real manliness.
Despite popular connotations, some of the more manly characteristics that a boy or man can obtain in his lifetime are service, humility, true knowledge, brotherly love and hard work. All of these characteristics can be linked directly to physical fitness in many ways, but whenever physical fitness works against one of these principles, the man involved is growing less manly and more childish.
For example, service can often include physical labor. Physical labor often necessitates strength and good physical health. A man who is willing to serve others will be more able to do so if he is physically strong; therefore, physical strength and fitness are subservient to this manly characteristic.
All of the above listed characteristics can be compared to physical fitness goals and motivators to give a rather accurate measure of manliness. Ignorance of these principles will keep many men from reaching their potential.