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Face of Defense: Airman Enjoys Bodybuilding’s Challenges, Competition

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas, Dec. 1, 2016 — Through high school, the term “athlete” is always one Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jason Haden identified with.

“Basketball, football, soccer -- I played a lot of sports,” said Haden, who’s Air Education and Training Command’s noncommissioned officer-in-charge of instructor and support assignments.

“Every sport that was in season, I played,” he said.

Now that his high school days are long behind him, Haden decided to take on a new challenge to test his athleticism and fitness: bodybuilding.

Haden competed in the National Physique Committee Lackland Classic Nov. 12 at the Hyatt Regency San Antonio, placing in the Classic Physique Overall, Masters and Military categories.

Something Different

“I’ve always been in to working out,” Haden said. “Normally, I work for a goal, which is just to be fit. But now, I want to do something a little different.”

For the last three months, Haden, who typically scores a 90 or above on his Air Force physical training test, spent Monday through Saturday lifting weights with an hour-and-a-half of cardio every day.

“Half the week is heavy weights and the end of the week is more light weights,” Haden said. “I’ve been doing more cardio ever since I started training for this. I do low burn, meaning I walk on the treadmill at high incline at a moderately fast pace just to burn the fat versus the muscle.”

But it wasn’t getting to the gym to work out more that was the biggest struggle for him, he said.

Maintaining Diet

“It’s all been nothing but joy,” Haden said. “Working out is what I do every day, so it’s not that different. The biggest struggle is the diet. If anyone tells you the diet is easy, it’s never easy.”

Haden said he normally eats pretty healthy, but cutting out carbohydrates was difficult. However, he said he didn’t miss things like donuts or pizza.

“Everybody loves bread, donuts, all that pastry stuff,” Haden said. “That’s where you actually have to restrict yourself from eating carbs, but I’m not really looking forward to anything. I’m not on that high that I have to have carbs again.”

Posing was another area of his preparation that was important to competition day, Haden said.

Proper Posing

“Posing is a very big thing,” Haden said. “You can have the best body in the world, but if you can’t show it, you won’t win.”

He said it takes a lot of practicing in the mirror and concentrating on his muscles to hold a pose.

“When you’re on stage, you have to hold a pose between 10 to 15 seconds,” Haden said. “Most people’s bodies are not used to holding a contraction that long so their body starts shaking.”

One of the most overlooked but vital parts of preparing for the competition is being able to track progress. Haden said he used progress pictures to see how his body was changing.

Body Composition

Another tool he used to help make changes to his day-to-day regimen was the BOD POD, which is a service offered at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Health Promotions that uses air displacement to determine body composition.

Aracelis Gonzalez-Anderson, JBSA-Randolph Human Performance Resource Center health promotions program coordinator, said the BOD POD is a more accurate measurement than using a scale to determine progress, and using the BOD POD is a good way to tell an individual whether they are going in the right direction in their diet and fitness routines.

“It’s a lot easier to visualize your milestone markers, and that’s what, for some people, keeps them a lot more motivated,” Gonzalez-Anderson said.

It also saves service members money using the BOD POD service on base, which is free, she added. The average cost of a BOD POD test according to the National Institute for Fitness and Sport is about $45 per test.

Haden said he was aware of the service before his competition, but had never used it.

Showtime

“It’s been very helpful,” Haden said. “Once you come into bodybuilding, you have to have a show-ready body. You have eyes judging you, so you have to look a certain way.”

The exercise physiology major said he plans to continue competing, and he sees the experience as not only a way to better himself, but as an avenue to motivate the people around him, and as a stepping stone to help him pursue a career later in life in the bodybuilding world.

“My true goal is to open my own fitness centers,” Haden said. “I value my time at the gym because I value the results. I value the way I help people by being in there to give advice or even people looking at me saying, ‘Wow, he looks good, and he’s doing the same thing I’m doing,’ so it gives people some motivation.”

Distribution channels: Military