August 13, 2015 – WEBSTER, N.Y. – What started as a hobby to kill time while deployed at Guantanamo Bay in 2011 and 2012 has become a record-breaking event for New York Army National Guard Capt. Jeremy Hillyard.
Hillyard, a battle-staff officer in the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team headquarters, based in Syracuse, took five prizes in the Aug. 8-9 Revolution Power Lifting competition in Rochester.
More than 300 weight-lifters took part in the regional competition, one of the largest on the East Coast.
“Nothing compares to the adrenaline when you are competing against yourself, it takes mental and physical strength when you are no longer in front of just a mirror but instead hundreds of people,” Hillyard said.
“Getting your body to do something you may not have been able to do a month ago is something special,” he added.
Hillyard, who is currently serving full-time, discovered weightlifting when he was serving as part of Joint Task Force Guantanamo with the New York Army National Guard’s 107th Military Police Company.
Hillyard looked for something to fill time in a productive and positive manner and followed the path of fellow Soldiers to the gym. He excelled at lifting weights.
But when he returned home to Webster he stopped lifting.
He was “Army strong,” capable of doing pushups, situps and passing the two-mile run but not much more, Hillyard said.
Dissatisfied with his body image, physical strength and with mental fatigue creeping in, after returning from “Gitmo” and taking six months off from working out, Hillyard and his wife Katie decided to join a gym in Webster. Almost instantly, a new way of life was born, he said.
The two became “gym rats.”
“I lift more for power lifting, and physical and mental strength, and she lifts for overall fitness,” Hillyard said.
At the August weightlifting competition, Hillyard was defending weightlifting records he had set at earlier events.
Representing the Gold’s gym in Webster, Hillyard competed in two weight classes — the 198-pound Military Professional Open and 198 Amateur open weight class division, referred to as a “Full Power” event, consisting of three events: Bench Press, Squats, and Dead Lift. He successfully bench-pressed 295 pounds, squatted 605 pounds and deadlifted 560 pounds for a total of 1,440 pounds.
The 198 refers to Hillyard’s body weight in pounds.
Hillyard competes in Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate.
According to the syndicate’s website, the group provides powerlifting competitors an environment in which they may compete at their highest level utilizing the best possible equipment and conditions to perform the squat, bench press and deadlift.
Competitors are judged by three referees and must meet the long-standing and integral criteria of the sport of powerlifting while being shown respect, embraced as a peer and heard as an individual not a commodity, the website says.
Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS), is one of several large Powerlifting federations in the United States that hold competitions in 17 states and Canada.
Hillyardhold three RPS New York state records and two RPS International Records in the deadlift and squat events. He plans to defend his state records and pursue national and international records in future competitions.
All results are compiled by Powerlifting Watch, a separate organization that monitors the results from every federation and every meet held throughout the year.
Hillyard said he is on a personal mission to set a fitness example for his fellow Soldiers.
Obese and out of shape Soldiers are an issue in our force today, Hillyard said. More can be done to change the direction of physical fitness — not only in the New York National Guard but the community as a whole, he said.
“People must get past the mental block of being afraid to hurt or feel tired and have pride in themselves to ultimately see great results and reach their full body potential,” Hillyard said.