Powerlifting to fitness

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class David Bernal Del Agua
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Twelve hours of patrolling on the graveyard shift drained his energy, but not his drive. The job is done, but the work isn't.

The Airman steps through the fitness club doors with only one goal in mind: to achieve powerlifting superiority. He sees an empty bench press. He feels the grip of the iron bar covered with chalk powder, and the only sound he hears is the music through his headphones. In that moment, his new environment separates him from the rest of the world.

Airman 1st Class Benny Le, 22nd Security Forces Squadron patrolman, powerlifts to stay fit, but the sport is more than just lifting heavy weights.

"Powerlifting is mostly mental," said Le. "I try to clear everything in my mind and I imagine myself as the Hulk, being able to lift whatever weight is in front of me."

Le was first introduced to the sport that would improve his fitness, both physically and spiritually, by his first supervisor at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.

"The first time I powerlifted, I loved it," said Le. "There were a lot of friendly people, and even those who didn't know me showed support. That really motivated and hyped me up for the meet."

Bench pressing, deadlifting, and squatting soon became routine for Le.

Although his first powerlifting competition was easy for him to do, fitness was not always his thing.

"As a chubby, dorky kid in middle school, I stuck with video games from an early age," said Le. "After seeing a Bowflex commercial one night, I decided to get in shape. I lost 35 pounds in two months."

Le's new physique motivated him to keep working out, and eventually start powerlifting.

"I want to inspire others to be fit just like me," said Le. "I just want to help them succeed."

Le's drive to succeed and to help others is something anyone who knows him can see.

"Benny is a super nice guy; and he's really, really humble," said Daniel Tennison, a workout partner of Le. "He's not arrogant, he doesn't have a big head, he just keeps his nose to the grind stone and he trains hard. He's a humble competitor."

Le wants to use himself as an example to help others get out of their stagnant fitness routine and get more involved in managing their health.

"A lot of people don't go out there and strive for their goals," said Le, who at 5 feet 2 inches wanted to prove that people can achieve their goals if they make an effort.

"You need to have a strong mentality to get started," said Le.

Le may spend up to three hours in the gym just to complete three different sets of exercises. His workout partner sees his mental preparation and believes Le can achieve anything.

"He's got potential to be one of the best in the nation at his weight class, and I know he's got the mentality and work ethic to do it," said Tennison. "I see him work, I feel how much he loves it, and his head is in the right place. You guys are going to see some really big things out of Benny."

He walks away from the empty bench, feeling the impressions the iron bar left on his hands. The music is off as he steps through the door, rejoining the world. The session is over for today, but the pursuit of powerlifting glory is never ending.