Perfecting his craft

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica McConnell
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs
Meet Tech. Sgt. Marcel Thom: He's the aircrew flight equipment section chief for the 5th Operations Support Squadron; a husband, father, athlete, trainer and student. He is also a fitness enthusiast, to say the least.

Thom played football in high school, which ultimately paved the way to a football scholarship at the collegiate level. He'd always had an interest in fitness, but lifting weights seemed to grab his attention for the better part of his life.

While in high school and college, Thom lifted weights to further his abilities and skills in football and track. What started out as a supplement to his earlier crafts soon turned into another passion on its own.

While Thom is a busy NCO in the Air Force, he also competes as an all natural bodybuilder. Thom is an Elite International Sports Sciences Association certified fitness trainer and personal trainer. Thom is also a competitive natural bodybuilder for both the Alaska Bodybuilding Fitness and Figure and National Physique Committee, and has appeared in several national health and fitness magazines across the country.

"I recently competed in the North Star Classic and placed in the top 5 during my International Fitness Professionals Association competition in Bloomington, Minn.," said Thom. "My first year competing I was the 2011 Alaskan State Natural Bodybuilding Novice Champion. I also took third place in the 2011 Minnesota NPC Men's Masters 35 and over."

Thom believes in staying in competing condition all year long as opposed to undergoing anything extreme months prior to a competition.

"Because I'm sponsored, I always want to be in peak condition," said Thom. "During the off season however, I will have a cheat meal once in a while, but not an entire cheat day. To attain a 'body for life' as I like to call it, I believe it is important to follow the full spectrum cycle."

The full spectrum cycle, a term coined by Thom himself, encompasses three areas, all contributing to a healthy and fit body: adequate rest, proper nutrition and proper form.

"Diet is a major part of it because once you eat those leafy greens and you're drinking a sufficient amount of water, what you're doing is releasing those fatty cell deposits, leading to a leaner look," said Thom. "I look at the world of fitness as a science. A person needs to know the physiological needs of the body."

Thom explained the human body as being much more complex than most living things. In turn, when one puts good things in their body, it leads to feeling good, looking good, having more vitality, releasing high amounts of endorphins and more.

"It's a process that takes time to achieve," said Thom. "It's very important to remember that it is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. I tell people to learn to crawl before they walk."

Thom spends approximately four to five days a week going to the gym. He lifts weights before he performs cardio, which he says is usually some form of high intensity interval training.

"After work I'll do my weight training, which usually consists of working the entire body," said Thom. "But everything works differently for different people. What works for me may not work for someone else. It's important to listen to one's body and give it what it needs. The same goes for training. Try different things and do what works well for you."

Adequate rest is another staple in Thom's full spectrum cycle. Many people in the gym believe that more is better, but not always, said Thom.

"Your body needs time to recover and get stronger," said Thom. "Without adequate rest, your body will not respond as well. It's important to remember that when you are at the gym, you are being very hard on your body. It needs time to recover and build the muscle tissue that was torn during training."

All of these aspects of the cycle lead to a well-rounded athlete - a well-rounded bodybuilder. During competition, Thom said the judges focus on much more than just muscle.

"We are judged on muscular symmetry, posing, as well as a choreographed routine, which is usually comprised of calisthenics and even ballet," said Thom. "The body must be proportionate to receive a high rating. If a person has a big upper body but doesn't have the lower body to match, that's disproportionate and thus will not lead to a very high score."

As with being a well-rounded athlete, Thom also believes the same principles apply to being an Airman.

"Being a well-rounded Airman is beneficial in many ways," said Thom. "When an Airman excels in several parts of life, including academics, their job and even volunteering, it only enhances their character and ability to perform as an Airman. Airman should have focused determination and dedication in every aspect of life. It should be about perfecting your craft."

Thom is currently preparing for his next competition called the Northstar Classic, which is scheduled to be held in October.