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Face of Defense: Failed Fitness Test Motivates Airman to Change

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Ashley N. Steffen 355th Fighter Wing

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz., Sept. 13, 2016 — With her brow furrowed and jaw set, every muscle in her body tenses up as the dissonant sounds of metallic ringing, determined grunting and echoing music constructs this 25-year-old bodybuilder’s place of serenity.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Macy Benjamin finds her escape from everyday life through her workouts. Starting with very little fitness knowledge, two years ago she began transforming herself from an average airman to a fitness guru.

“I got into fitness pretty seriously … after I failed my physical training test,” Benjamin said. “I decided I was done being mediocre.”

The contract administrator from the 355th Contracting Squadron here began looking for a positive avenue in her life to reduce stress and develop herself. She focused on improving her physical fitness.

“[The gym is] a good place to escape,” Benjamin said. “I put my headphones on, do what I have to do, then go on about my day. I feel like previously in my life, I was kind of dealing with things the wrong way.”

As time passed, Benjamin learned to break through barriers while becoming adept in the art of lifting.

“Over the past couple years she has set and achieved some impressive goals,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew Wester, Benjamin’s coworker and occasional gym partner. “But she remains very humble about her accomplishments.”

Like many other bodybuilders, the development of Benjamin’s humility stemmed from her early, more inexperienced days of weightlifting.

“When I first started working out, I felt kind of stupid,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was doing -- there’s a bunch of buff guys who look like they know what they’re doing and I was just throwing weights around.”

Strength, Confidence

As her muscles strengthened, so did her confidence. Benjamin was able to see herself growing in more ways than one.

“Working out is a part of her everyday life now,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christina Rinato, one of Benjamin’s gym partners. “It's not a burden or a task, but rather something she uses for a stress reliever.”

According to Benjamin, there is nothing like the high she receives from the release of endorphins after a workout. For her, it’s a necessity to have this experience before she starts her day.

“I’m naturally a very reserved person,” she said. “Working out has helped me get out of my comfort zone and become part of a small gym family.”

Every fitness center has its own little community of regulars, who aid in the growth and development of new gym goers.

“The fitness community will come up and tell you how great of a job you’re doing, and it’s boosted my confidence,” Benjamin said.

She said she is now able to talk to people more comfortably, has more self-confidence and inspires others.

“I always admire her and constantly go to her for advice on gym routines and nutrition,” Rinato said.

Benjamin is now the physical training leader within her squadron and also trains on her own six days a week.

“I started from humble beginnings and honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing,” she said. “I’m really happy and I hope by telling people [my story] I can help inspire them to realize that you can start from the bottom and get to where I am today.”
Distribution channels: Military