by Senior Airman Chris Willis
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
2/25/2013 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Bodybuilding is not a sprint, it's a marathon.
Airmen got a chance to show off their hard work and dedication to
fitness as they participated in a bodybuilding competition open to all
service members and civilians on Bagram Airfield.
The arena was packed with spectators as the bodybuilders prepared
backstage, oiling up and getting pumped to entertain the crowd.
Like rock stars, the bodybuilders entered center stage to perform their
individual routines to a cheering crowd holding posters and rooting for
their favorite contestants.
For some competitors this is a lifestyle and was not their first show.
Others, such as first timers Capt. Michelle Ruehl and Staff Sgt. Adam
Nicola, both from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, were not easy to
pick out during the competition, even though they had mere weeks to
prepare for the event.
"This was my first competition," Ruehl said. "I had a great time training for it, but I knew I was limited on time."
Nicola had taken up bodybuilding in college but this was also his first competition.
"I work out hard every day at the gym and like the way it makes me
look," said Nicola, who deployed from Joint Base Langley- Eustis, Va.
"Getting on that stage and showing what I worked for is just a bonus."
Competing in the bodybuilding event is also part of a bigger picture to some Airmen.
At the Air Force Academy, Ruehl played rugby to stay fit but noticed in
her mid-30's staying fit takes a little bit more work. As the unit
fitness program manager for her squadron, she wanted to show the younger
troops that fitness is more than just a standard.
"It's better to set an example than to just tell people they 'should' be
fit," said Ruehl, who deployed from Beale Air Force Base, Calif. "You
can stay fit and strong at any age."
For many these competitions are about getting out of their comfort zones
and pushing it to the limit of their physical capabilities to impress
"Hearing the crowd roar is the best part of the competitions for me,"
Nicola said. "They make you want to flex even harder than you should
already be flexing."
Ruehl and Nicola both placed in top positions in their divisions and are
hooked on the sport. They are already planning to participate in more
competitions back at their home stations.