Story by SPC Emilie Sheridan on 06/19/2018
A smile sat on the face of Army Pfc. Jacob Bolin, a geospatial engineer with the 16th Engineer Brigade, Headquarters and Headquarters Company at the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio, as he shared his first experience at the Arnold Classic Sports Festival.
The Arnold Classic is a four-day festival of all things fitness and health related. There are sports competitions of all varieties as well as a three-day fitness expo. Competitors, brand representatives, fitness gurus, and fanatics come from all over the world to attend the Columbus, Ohio festival. "Being here makes me feel motivated," explained Bolin. "It reinforces my goals for competing one day and to push my body to my ideal physique."
Fitness is a vital part of service members' lives and careers. Being able to perform your duties to the best of your ability is not only a necessity, but it is also used in deciding promotions, extra training and important missions. The Arnold Classic Sports Festival attracts large numbers of service members, both past and present due to its focus on dedication and physical fitness.
Bolin believes that, "in both worlds, army life and body building life, you are held to a high standard above the average person. You always have to push yourself to go above and beyond. If you aren't pushing, and aren't progressing, then you will never get anywhere. You will remain stagnant."
Army Specialist Seth Riegle, a combat engineer with the 371st Special Troop Brigade in St. Mary's, Ohio, was also in attendance at the Arnold Classic and shared that attending the event motivates him to stay in top physical shape, so that he can be a better soldier and a more disciplined individual in his civilian life.
"Seeing all these bodybuilders here reminds me how much I love the lifestyle of the Army," Riegle shared with a glimmer in his eye as he gazed around the expo. "I think the other soldiers at my unit could really benefit from getting involved in the bodybuilding world, even just as spectators because it reminds us soldiers that we too have a higher common goal of improving ourselves and our battle buddies."
Balancing civilian life and Army life can be a struggle for National Guard soldiers. Regardless of your family life, civilian job, school or other commitments, Ohio National Guard soldiers must stay physically fit and ready to answer the call for duty at any time.
"The Arnold, or other fitness expos, can motivate other Soldiers to put fitness as more of a priority," said Bolin. "Sometimes as guardsmen we get caught up in our civilian lives and don't always feel like we have the time or motivation to stay as mentally and physically strong as we should be. If my mental strength is improving and my PT [physical training] score is improving, I am becoming a better soldier."
Fitness lifestyles such as bodybuilding, cross fit, or triathlons bridge the gap between drill weekends and civilian life. They both take a dedication and commitment to bettering yourself and holding yourself to a higher standard.
"Bodybuilding makes me feel like I'm working toward something more and not just going through the motions," explained Bolin. "I feel more prepared to do my job and set an example for others."
For many soldiers, just like Bolin and Reigle, bodybuilding gives a sense of purpose and a way to measure their improvements both physically and mentally. Events such as the Arnold Classic put them in contact with prior servicemembers, mentors, and educators who are role models and show how to achieve goals, not just in the bodybuilding world, but in life in general.
"I like the way working out makes me feel," Riegle explained. "It gives me a rush and releases stress. As you reach goals, you feel better about yourself. You can see your progress in the mirror and that's really rewarding."
"I can picture myself being on that stage one day," Bolin declared. "I hope to start with a triathlon next year, but I would like to for sure compete in physique competitions one day. I think my body type would be highly capable of being competitive. I want to compete to show myself that I can push my body to the limits and create any image I want. It carries that discipline of military life into my civilian life, and aren't we all striving to be better soldiers on and off duty?"