YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Tracey Briggs never figured bodybuilding would help bring two cultures closer together. But when Briggs won the Yongsan Bodybuilding Competition in October 2007, Professor Chung "Jade" Yeon Ok took note.

Chung is dean of the Department of Fitness and Health Management at Tongwon College just southeast of Seoul in the Gyeonggi Province. Tongwon College had provided a dance team as entertainment at the competition.

"Later that month, I met Jade, who has supported our military community as a coordinator for the Collier Field House aerobic program for many years," said Briggs, personal fitness trainer at Collier.
A new partnership and a Good Neighbor alliance formed. Since then, Briggs has shared her passion for fitness with Tongwon College students.

"Jade invited me to judge and guest pose at the 2007 Tongwon College Bodybuilding Competition last November," Briggs said. "It was the first time I had ever been presented with this type of request. I was so honored, and that was the beginning of my wonderful friendship with Jade and my unique bond with Tongwon College."

Chung has managed Collier's aerobics program for 15 years and frequently saw Briggs training at the gym. Briggs is also a certified American Fitness and Aerobics Association personal trainer, "which gives her a lot of credibility," Chung said.

"I thought that the knowledge and experience in the field of bodybuilding would be a great asset to my students," Chung said. "Our department is the only department on the peninsula that aims to produce professional fitness trainers."

Chung invited Briggs back to the college to teach a four-hour class to about 30 of Chung's students June 28.

"I realized it was a wonderful opportunity to bring my passion for fitness to students studying in the discipline of health management," Briggs said.

Through a translator, Briggs lectured on personal training and how to cultivate a productive relationship with a client.

"The students asked many questions on the cultural differences in the ideology of personal training and also specific questions on case study programming examples," Briggs explained. "Many of the students stated that they never realized that being an independent trainer required layer upon layer of client support that goes way beyond what most witness as simply one hour with a client in the gym."

Briggs created her own program, personalized for each of her 60 clients. She explained to the students the comprehensive work involved in preparing a client for a serious fitness training regimen, from health and diet assessments to weight training technique.

"The students were under the impression that all bodybuilders use steroids," Briggs said. "For a female who has a stature like mine, they thought there might be something going on supplementally."

That gave Briggs the chance to explain how she is a member of the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, whose members adhere to a drug-free pledge and are tested at each show. Chung added, "Our students are educated in personal health management, and thus hold a negative view on taking such enhancement drugs."

Chung said Briggs' presentation was "very positive" and the college invited Briggs back to judge in the Tongwon Bodybuilding Competition this fall.

"The lecture was enlightening," Chung recalled. "In fact, I'm confident that most younger men and women are interested in bodybuilding to a certain extent. Who doesn't want a good body nowadays'"