JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. —
He paces backstage as he anxiously awaits for his number to be called. The overwhelming smell of self-tanner is a brief, but welcomed distraction. They can’t be seen, but they are definitely heard. Friends cheering from the crowd shift that unsure feeling into a prideful smile. It’s not so bad.
All that’s left to do is flex.
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Donald Beaufort, 633rd Force Support Squadron fitness journeyman, returned to Joint Base Langley-Eustis after his deployment with renewed inspiration for physical fitness, but also a desire to motivate others to work toward their best selves.
“Deploying was a good experience, but there were a lot of bad times,” Beaufort said. “I was stressed and couldn’t deal with work so, I would go to the gym to vent and blow off steam. That’s where I found my calm.”
As the gym became a part of the Jamaica native’s daily routine, familiar faces turned into workout buddies and friendly competition became motivation. So, when a friend recommended participating in a bodybuilding competition, Beaufort decided to step out of his comfort zone.
“I was unsure about it at first because I wasn’t confident enough to get up there and show my body,” Beaufort said. “I had so much support from my squadron and I started training for it. Even though I didn’t place (in the competition) like I wanted to, I saw what I was able to accomplish and it opened up a whole new world to me.”
Beaufort describes his newfound passion for bodybuilding as a lifestyle that he actively works on whether he is lifting weights in the gym or not.
While working in JBLE’s fitness assessment cell, conducting fitness tests, Beaufort said he wants to encourage Airmen to look past their annual physical fitness tests and push themselves to take on new challenges.
One such challenge was the Langley Classics Bodybuilding competition held on Sept. 29 at Shellbank Fitness Center. He decided to organize a free bodybuilding competition to give others the same opportunity he was given.
“I hope these competitions give Airmen an extra incentive to work on their physique,” Beaufort said. “Even if they are not mentally-ready to get up on a stage now, it can be a future goal. I also want to help people competing for the first time to kind of break the ice.”
Beaufort also learned how to navigate and conquer the unique challenges that come with organizing a large event for the first time. He said he knew he couldn’t do it alone so he turned to a professional for guidance.
Outside of active duty work, Tech. Sgt. Magnum McCrae, 633rd Surgical Operations Squadron, NCO in charge of surgical services administration, is a professional bodybuilder and co-founder of a business that promotes bodybuilding competitions. McCrae said over the years he has learned about the hard work and stress that comes with hosting a bodybuilding competition.
“When he came to me, he didn’t know anything about putting together a bodybuilding show and organizing an event like this is stressful, especially when you still have to worry about your job in the military,” McCrae said. “But he did what he had to do in a very short time and I think the show was a success. I know it meant a lot to the competitors, even more so for the first-time competitors with friends and family members cheering for them in the audience.”
Now having a successful bodybuilding show under his belt, Beaufort said he looks forward to organizing more competitions and expanding his reach to all military members in the Hampton Roads area.
“Putting on this competition has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said Beaufort. “But I felt like this show was a reflection of me and the kind of impact I want to have on people who have the drive for improving themselves and just need a little help getting started.”