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    Sanctuary of sweat and steel

    Sanctuary of sweat and steel

    Photo By Sgt. Joshua Laidacker | 1st Sgt. Mark Stephens, senior enlisted advisor of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th...... read more read more

    FORT STEWART, Ga. (Aug. 27, 2016) – “I’ve been lifting for over 20 years,” said 1st Sgt. Mark Stephens. “For the last five-and-a-half, six weeks, five meals a day have been three tilapia fillets, one cup of white rice and a cup of spinach. The lifting part is the easy part.”

    Stephens, first sergeant for Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was one of many contestants in “The Rock” bodybuilder and figure competition at Woodruff Theater, Fort Stewart, Georgia, Aug. 27.

    “Tonight’s competition is going to be exciting,” said Nathaniel Robinson, assistant director of Johnson Fitness Center and judge at the competition. “We have eight mandatory poses that we go through and we look at the body from top to bottom.”

    Each competitor walked on the stage, highlighted by spot lights, and posed for the judges.

    “We’re judging figures,” Robinson said. “We’re looking for the perfect body.”

    “At the end of the day, bodybuilding has absolutely nothing to do with legitimate physical fitness,” Stephens said. “Just because a guy has bigger muscles and he’s stronger in the weight room doesn’t mean he’s going to be able to perform better as a soldier.”

    Contestants go to extremes in pursuit of the perfection judges are looking for, such as symmetry and musculature.

    “When I come up here on stage, I haven’t drank any water in the last 36 to 48 hours,” said Stephens, who is formerly Mr. Fort Jackson. “If I start sweating that means I didn’t push out enough water.”

    Stephens, who weighed in at 195 lbs. for the competition, came prepared to quench that thirst with a sports drink as soon as the competition was complete. He also said one food in particular is his weakness, and being a husband and father of a family without such nutritional restrictions means it is readily available.

    “Peanut butter is my crutch,” Stephens said after the competition. “When I diet and train, the rest of my family is not. There’s still peanut butter in the house and all it takes is one finger swab. It’s the next ten that sets you back two weeks.”

    Robinson said the competition was very tough to judge. In the end, Stephens earned Best Overall and the title, Mr. Fort Stewart, an honor Stephens earned twice before.

    “Fitness training and bodybuilding, people do it all their lives,” Robinson said.

    “Lifting has been a sanctuary for me for the past 20 years,” Stephens said. “I fell in love with it. My old man got me into it to me when I was real young. For that 95 minutes of the day, everything else is gone and I’m just saturated and just focus on that.”

    Stephens said he joined the Army to be an infantryman and that these competitions are just a hobby for him and that his personal fitness goals have lead to better overall fitness, strength and a nutrition regimen.

    “If your hobby happens to put you in a position where you’re in better physical health and better physical condition, why not?” Stephens said.

    Stephens made it clear his priorities were to be a Soldier before a bodybuilder, but he plans to continue both.

    “I’m a Soldier first,” Stephens said. “If my future calendar permits, I plan to do the [National Physique Committee] national qualifier in Savannah on Oct. 1. If the Army has other plans, I go with that.”



    Date Taken: 08.27.2016
    Date Posted: 08.30.2016 11:02
    Story ID: 208492
    Location: FORT STEWART, GA, US 

    Web Views: 508
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