Thirty-four competitors flexed with poise during the fifth annual U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart European Bodybuilding and Figure Championship Aug. 25, persuasively engaging one glistening deltoid at a time for an appreciative sold-out audience.
“A lot of people really admire the hard work, dedication and discipline these performers put in the gym and toward their bodies,” said Marie Smith, a dedicated crossfit athlete who brought her young sons to watch the evening show at the Patch Fitness Center.
The athletes made it look easy, but they’ll be the first to tell you the sport is all about preparation and self-control. “Bodybuilding needs to be taken very seriously — this is not a joke,” said Garrison Pollard, a Boston, Mass., native who has competed since 2007. “You must be disciplined; not only throughout your workout regiment, but your diet, taking good care of your body and your mental state,” he said. And then there’s nutrition. “The foods are what shape your body,” said Pollard, who traveled from Heidelberg for the competition. “Dieting is 90 percent of what you do as a bodybuilder; the other 10 is working out. Regardless of how you work out, if you don’t eat right, you won’t shape correctly,” he said. Diet seemed to be a running theme with all the competitors, highlighting the importance of giving a body the fuel it needs, along with heavy-repetition lifting, and cardio and core workouts. “You have to be disciplined; take away the sugars, salts, and other things that can harm your body,” said Michael Jackson, a native of Franklin, La., who represented the Warrior Preparation Center in Kaiserslautern. “The most important thing when it comes to bodybuilding will always be your diet. Lifting weights, running, and other exercises are the easy part. It takes willpower, mental toughness and self-discipline to maintain a healthy eating regimen,” Jackson said.
Bernard Pickett Jr., who represented Rhine Ordinance Barracks in Kaiserslautern, discussed his assortment of dieting necessities, cataloging muscle-building blocks such as chicken, turkey or chicken breast, fish and vegetables.
But there are times when he lets loose. “I may even have a diet soda as dessert,” he admitted. Pickett, 43, said he has competed on and off for about 10 years, ever since he started bodybuilding. “Working out has always been a big thing for me, especially being an athlete since the age of 16, but training for something like this didn’t happen until later in my life,” Pickett said. He offered some sage advice for those who may be contemplating entering the sport. “Take some time to think about it. Mental preparation is key, because this is something that needs to be taken extremely seriously. It’s a great way to help your body and improve your dietary lifestyle,” Pickett said. “Be mentally ready, conduct your research, use the right tools and stay focused,” he added.