JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Having a long-term hobby while serving as a U.S. Army Soldier takes dedication, planning, and most of all, support. Two Soldiers assigned to the 174th Infantry Brigade here have consistently balanced the demands of work and family commitments while striving for success on the competitive bodybuilding stage.

Patriot Brigade Soldiers Staff Sgt. Jamie Kedrowicz and Capt. Kevon Reid placed first and second respectively, in the Classic Physique Over 35 division at the 2018 National Physique Committee Steve Stone Metropolitan Championships in Teaneck, New Jersey on Mar. 31.

In a sport where the goal is to maximize one's genetic potential to build lean muscle mass through exacting diet and exercise requirements, each Soldier's ability to stick to the plan regardless of the obstacles along the way is what separated them from their fellow competitors.

Early Influences

Kedrowicz, an indirect fire infantryman and observer coach/trainer assigned to 1st Battalion, 307th Regiment, credits his brother in law and strongman competitor, Miguel Pena for inspiring him to become a bodybuilder.

Drawing from this inspiration, the El Paso, Texas native started training in 2014 before entering his first competition two years later.

For Reid, a Field Artillery officer and observer coach/trainer assigned to 3rd Battalion, 314th Field Artillery Regiment, the journey began in 2014 as well. However, injuries limited his competitive aspirations at the time.

Following years of physical therapy treatment, the Brooklyn, New York native began training in earnest in October of 2017 for his first competition.

Family Support

Both men acknowledged the importance that a strong family support system had on their performances.

Kedrowicz, who dealt with an illness during his preparation, credits his wife Alexia as his biggest supporter.

"I actually got sick two weeks before the competition and thought I was going to have to pull out," said Kedrowicz.

While illness was not a factor in Reid's competition preparation, he did face challenges in staying consistent with his diet and training routines while fulfilling his OC/T duties supporting the brigade's partner units on temporary duty assignments, or TDYs, away from home.

Reid credits his wife Vania, for supporting him both as a workout partner and helping him prepare meals for TDY trips.

"I cooked all my meals for the week on Sundays and put them in deep freezer," said Reid. "If I had upcoming TDYs, I would cook all my meals, pack them in zip lock bags to save on storage space and bring them with me," added Reid.

Sticking to the plan

For both men, tailoring their daily routines to get the most of every hour was the key to success.

"I wake up at 0530 and jump on the treadmill for 30 minutes before heading to PT formation," said Kedrowicz. "After work, I head to the gym and depending on what day it is, I could be there for two to three hours," added Kedrowicz.

Reid echoed a similar approach to his training plan.

"I would train at night or early in the morning while my children were asleep, so I could spend time with them when they were awake," said Reid.

"When traveling away from home, I either went to a local gym or made the best of what was available," said Reid. "I searched YouTube for alternate exercises which targeted the muscle groups I wanted to train," added Reid.

In bodybuilding, weight training is only part of the equation. Contrary to popular belief, proper nutrition and recovery are what makes muscles grow.

Maintaining the right amount of calories and macronutrients to add muscle mass while minimizing body fat is accomplished by meticulous attention detail in a bodybuilder's diet.

"Depending on where I am in preparation, I eat every two hours, about 5,000 calories a day," said Kedrowicz. "The closer I get to competition, the portion sizes will drop, but my protein intake will stay at almost 400 grams a day," added Kedrowicz.

Competition Day

The division both men competed in, Classic Physique, made its debut in 2016. The competitors are required to perform five mandatory poses to display a physique that emphasizes muscular size, symmetry, balance and definition.

Despite its relatively new status among the other divisions, Classic Physique has become one of the most popular and competitive divisions in bodybuilding, underscoring the significance of Kedrowicz's and Reid's performances against peers unencumbered by the challenges associated with being an active duty Soldier.

For Kedrowicz, this year's winning performance was a major improvement on his seventh place showing last year. The 16-year veteran is already looking forward to the next step in his bodybuilding journey.

"My next competition may be tricky to prepare for because of the work commitments that'll be going on, but I'll find a way," said Kedrowicz, alluding to the NPC Universe competition on June 29, 2018.

"It's a professional qualifier, so if I win I get an International Federation of Bodybuilding or IFBB, pro card," said Kedrowicz.

Reid's second place showing in his first competition was the culmination of a plan initiated years ago and like Kedrowicz, he too is excited about taking the next step in the journey.

"I realize that bodybuilding is a marathon, not a sprint," said Reid. "I've discovered during this process that is easy to stay in shape as long as you make healthy life choices," added Reid. "I also realized that I've inspired many people around me, friends, family and even strangers who have seen my workouts on social media and told me that it inspired them to get back in shape," said Reid.

The Olympia

Every sport has its premier event, for the NFL it's the Super Bowl and Major League Baseball has the World Series. In bodybuilding, there's one competition that represents the highest level of competition and prestige. The Mr. Olympia, held each September in Las Vegas, Nevada, is where all competitive bodybuilders dream of ending up and Kedrowicz and Reid are no exception.

Both Soldiers expressed a desire to step on the stage at the Mr. Olympia in the near future and based on their demonstrated planning capabilities, it would unwise to bet against them.

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