For many Airmen, the New Year is about new beginnings. This can be an opportunity to start fresh and a chance to begin working toward new fitness goals.
For Benjamin Le, a services apprentice in the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Force Support Squadron, 2017 will be just another opportunity to continue to improve in what he loves. His love for the sport of power lifting gives him new goals to strive for every day.
“Lifting weights is not only my passion, but it shows who I am,” Le said. “It’s something I’ve been into since high school, but I was never serious about until I got to my first base.”
Le was introduced to powerlifting in 2012 at F.E. Warren Air Force Base near Cheyenne in Wyoming. While there, he was convinced by his supervisor to continue pursuing his fitness goals. Under his mentor’s guidance, Le trained and prepared for his first bodybuilding competition just four months later.
“My first supervisor and powerlifting coach was 1st Sgt. Lorenzo Peterson, whom I met at my first base,” Le said. “He was like my Jedi master; he showed me the ways of powerlifting. We trained together and he saw my lifts were pretty good. He told me he wanted me to get into powerlifting more seriously, and through a lot of hard work I could see my numbers starting to rise up. I’ve been competing in it ever since.”
Le has continued training as a powerlifter for the last four years, and now represents the Air Force powerlifting team.
“Every year there are military powerlifting nationals, where all branches compete against each other,” he said. “Since its Air Force related, my wing commanders have always really liked that. Depending on where you are, you may be able to represent your unit, your base and also yourself in the competition.”
During his last meet, he competed at the 148-pound weight class. He squatted 452 pounds, benched 308 pounds and deadlifted 490 pounds, which was a personal goal for him.
Being able to represent the Air Force at a national event was an honor, Le said, and the ability to exceed his own expectations has been a highlight of his career.
“When you get back from a meet, everyone compliments and recognizes you,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling, having my peers take interest in powerlifting and fitness. It’s helped my Air Force career, too. The fact I can also compete with the team is another reason why I’m still in the Air Force.”
Outside of the Air Force, Le continues to exemplify fitness as a personal trainer. He uses his skills to help fellow Airmen stay fit and assists his peers in exceeding their personal fitness standards. He is very adamant about encouraging anyone he trains to be better than their best.
“I conduct fitness tests also,” he said. “People ask me how to do more pushups or run faster, and I give them advice on routines to help them get stronger, or to run faster; squatting, getting on a treadmill, stuff like that.”
Le said he uses his passion for powerlifting to stay fit to fight, as well as to help and inspire others around him.
“Whether someone is really into fitness or not, it’s important to go to the gym,” he said. “Not a lot of people realize it’s one of the greatest stress relievers ever. It helps you be really productive, changes your lifestyle and helps with your nutrition. It’s a great way to better yourself, and to discipline yourself.” n