DARIEN, Illinois — During the COVID-19 pandemic, many encountered life-changing events, including Maj. Timothy Jarvis of the 416th Theater Engineer Command’s Contingency Command Post.
Those changes led Jarvis on a path he never thought of, as he just returned from an Iraq deployment and then subsequently furloughed from his civilian job at Union Pacific Railroad. Instead of being overwhelmed about the events going on in his personal life, Jarvis decided to follow in the footsteps of his friends and give bodybuilding a try. It became his safe space.
“My friends who were already into bodybuilding said, ‘hey man, you got the frame, why don’t you get into bodybuilding,’” explained Jarvis. “At first, I was like nah, I’m not getting into that, man. I have to put on those (small underwear) I’m not comfortable with that. They laughed at me (and said), ‘you will be fine, you will get used to it.’”
Jarvis figured since he was already going to the gym and doing what he loved, why not try bodybuilding. He did it, and said, once he starts something he has to keep going.
His journey began with meal prepping in March 2021 and his first show was in October 2021. Initially, Jarvis said there were some growing pains because he didn’t begin meal prepping the correct way.
“My coach was trying to figure out what my body was going to do,” he said. “We noticed my body had love handles so my intestines had food just sitting and I had to do a four-day cleanse. It was all liquid, six bottles a day, 2 ½ hours apart.”
After his body cleanse, Jarvis said it was easy to break the love handles down and he began eating clean because meal prepping is what helps a person’s body change and form to what it’s going to look like.
“You can go to the gym every day, but you eat garbage, and your body is not going to change,” Jarvis said. “What’s the reason (you) want to eat healthy? Some people say, ‘because the doctor told me I got to start (eating health).’ Now you have a reason to do it. Once a person starts seeing results, they are going to (continue) doing because they see this does work.”
Jarvis said eating healthy and meal prep was easy for him due to his discipline and motivation toward wanting to compete in bodybuilding.
Although Jarvis has only been competing for a year, he placed second in his first competition in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and he qualified for nationals. In his second competition at the Copernicus Center in Chicago, he placed first in May.
On Dec. 3, he placed second at a competition in Waukegan, Illinois. He said the local shows are good because people are now trying to figure him out. Since he has placed well during competitions, Jarvis is now catching the eye of sponsors, which can lead to signing a workout gear contract.
Jarvis is now working toward getting his professional card. He said getting one depends on the individual and how much they are willing to work. He believes his next show, which will be his fifth competition, he will qualify, which puts him in a position to compete nationally and then receive his professional card.
“For me, since I’m a newbie, my muscles haven’t fully developed yet,” he said, “my muscles are still forming. They still have more growing to do. My coach said, ‘we are going to do another show in 2023, and based on that show, we are going to send you to nationals. When you go to nationals and place top two, you get your pro card.’ After that, every show you do is for money.”
Even though Jarvis wasn’t happy with his loss, he said people told him he’s in a good position because he’s competing against people who have been bodybuilding for 10 to 15 years and he looked better.
While growing up, Jarvis said bodying building wasn’t a goal he strived for, but bodybuilding became fun, a safe space, and he was up for the challenge because he likes trying new things. He added that being in the military has taught him to adapt and overcome, as well as discipline.
Jarvis pointed out that bodybuilding has also inspired people, as some have commented via social media posts that they’re inspired to get healthy and in shape.
“(Bodybuilding) is helping me mentally and it’s a challenge,” Jarvis said. “It’s fun and I enjoy it.”