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NEWS | Feb. 10, 2014

Building minds and bodies: One Airman's decision to better himself, others

By Staff Sgt. Stephanie R. Plichta 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen are expected to maintain a high level of physical fitness to succeed in physically demanding missions. However, there are Airmen willing to go above and beyond to achieve superior fitness standards.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Damar Turner, 633rd Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School instructor, committed himself to being not only a full-time Airman, but also to follow his dream of competitive bodybuilding.

Turner juggles a busy lifestyle in order to fulfill both of his personal goals; being a model Airman and obtaining a fit physique.

For Turner, his morning typically consists of waking up at 4 a.m. to study for promotion. Then, he visits the gym to complete his cardio workout for the day. Following that, he heads to work where he teaches in a classroom for majority of the day.

Throughout the day, Turner fuels his body with only nutritious food in order to maintain his body building physique. After work, Turner performs a weightlifting workout, and ends his night with additional studying.

Turner's healthy lifestyle consists of maintaining healthy eating habits combined with a strict workout regimen. He says his diet requires the most discipline and willpower each day, traits he believes he learned from his parents.

"My parents got me involved with sports to stay out of trouble," said Turner. "I grew up in Queens, N.Y., and no matter how rough it was, my siblings and I always found a way to play sports and stay healthy."

Turner's parents continuously motivated him to do well in school and taught him the importance of self-discipline.

After a childhood filled with football games and track meets, Turner left home for college, ultimately deciding to enlist instead. Turner entered the Air Force as a heating, air conditioning and ventilation specialist.

At his first duty station, he was involved with intramural sports and became a physical training leader, which also helped guide him to follow his dream of body building.

Turner, now in charge of the physical fitness program for ALS, enjoys being a PTL, using the opportunity to mentor Airmen. Turner caters the program to the student's needs while abiding Air Force program requirements.

"I love helping people," said Turner. "I received such positive feedback from so many students. Their motivation and seeing that same drive, motivates me."

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Zacheriah Bertsch, Air Combat Command Plans, Programs and Requirements Division information technology chief management specialist, saw Turner at the gym frequently, but got to know him better as an ALS student.

"Our flight as a whole really started following his advice by eating healthier and living a healthier lifestyle," said Bertsch.

Bertsch, who also enjoys maintaining his physique, remembers how often Turner aided students.

"He was always willing to help students no matter what," said Bertsch. "He is a genuine and caring person with a good heart. He leads by example and that was something that I really enjoyed."

Turner's love for sports and mentoring led him to complete his certification in personal training and coach youth football teams.

Turner attributes his passion for coaching to his childhood and how he was raised. He helps children understand why it's important to maintain physical fitness, and how the food they eat contributes to their overall health.

"My entire life has the same pattern and it's been discipline and fitness," said Turner. "When you get down to the science of exercise, you begin to understand how your body performs and it all goes hand-in-hand with proper nutrition. Exercise and eating right takes discipline."

Turner spends his life sharing his love for fitness with others, while pursuing his personal goals of becoming, what he believes to be, the best possible version of himself.

"Just take care of yourself, even if you take baby steps to get there," said Turner. "Sometimes people will say they'll do it tomorrow or they'll start next week. A better you isn't going to happen overnight so don't wait; start right now."