By Sgt. Christopher M. Gaylord, 5th Mobile Public Affairs DetachmentOctober 27, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - Throughout their marriages, husbands and wives often give one another helpful advice.
It's not so often, however, the advice has anything to do with competitive power lifting.
But Sgt. Chuck Garmon, a mechanic with the 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), and his wife, Jessica Garmon, who competed together at Sheridan Sports and Fitness Center in this year's annual Joint Base Lewis-McChord bench press and dead lift championship Oct. 23, aren't exactly your average couple.
Chuck had certain expectations coming into the competition: he wanted to win. Jessica, on the other hand, expected something entirely different for herself: not to compete at all.
"I just came to support and watch my husband," she said. "Then, the ladies at the front desk said I should compete because so few females were competing."
Jessica had never taken part in a power lifting competition; she'd never really even power lifted. The couple has gone together to the gym for workouts for the past few years, but she rarely does any heavy lifting.
"I was really intimidated when I signed up," she said. "I do more cardio and endurance. Most girls who compete in power lifting have practiced and done this before."
Chuck and Jessica each competed in both the bench press and dead lift events. Just before Jessica stepped up for a lift, Chuck would cake her hands with white chalk and ensure the tightness of her lifting belt.
While one of them lifted, the other looked on with hope and eager anticipation.
The kind of teamwork they displayed was nothing apart from the usual for the two spouses, who have been married six years.
"When we're in the gym, I motivate her, and she motivates me," said Chuck, who began seriously power lifting four years ago in Afghanistan with inspiration from his father, a former lifter himself. "She assists me and gives me spots, and I'll spot her for her pull-ups and Crossfit workouts."
Chuck showed his wife how to lift properly, and he said he's always giving her pointers on form and technique so she avoids injury and maximizes her workouts, though she's always lifted for definition rather than strength.
While they may have been the closest two lifters, Sgt. Garmon and Jessica weren't the only ones displaying camaraderie during the event. Susan Jackson, who organized the competition, said power lifting meets are basically all about camaraderie.
"Everyone supports one another in power lifting," said Jackson, a sports and fitness specialist for McVeigh Fitness Center who competitively power lifted for seven years and was once ranked the fourth best female power lifter in the world. "People don't realize power lifting is a community thing. It's very morale lifting."
Jackson believes just as strongly that power lifting is the perfect outlet for Soldiers.
"Soldiers are in the gym all the time, so this is a great way for them to show what they've accomplished and see what they can do," she said.
Jessica was one of less than a handful of females among the 41 participants to compete in the event, but like each one, she proved that women are every bit as capable as men.
Sergeant Cat Mai, who has been seriously lifting for nearly two years, epitomizes that notion. She placed as the top female lifter in the event and set a new record for the installation, totaling almost 500 pounds between the two separate lifts.
"It's a personal gratification for me, because I'm a really small person," said Mai, a reservist medic currently assigned to the 191st Infantry Brigade at JBLM, "When people look at me, they don't assume I can lift a lot. But, that just drives me and pushes me to prove them wrong."
Chuck, who didn't place in the event, but lifted 365 pounds on bench press and 575 pounds on dead lift, is nothing but proud of his wife, who made it to 85 pounds on bench press and 165 pounds on dead lift. She placed second in the overall best female lifter category.
"I'm very proud of her," he said. "It makes me feel good that she's doing whatever it takes to be as actively involved in my hobbies as she can. It shows she cares about what I'm doing."
Chuck joked that he might have to repay his wife by being her "towel boy" and getting her drinks while she works out.
In spite of her previous fears surrounding power lifting and her lack of experience, Jessica says she'd like to involve herself more in the sport.
"I kind of want to train for an event like this now," she said. "It was fun and exhilarating, and I liked the challenge."