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Lance Cpl.Gabriel Lee Emery, supply administration specialist, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, performs a shoulder press exercise with two 85-pound dumbbells at the West Gym, Oct. 1, 2014. Emery uses this exercise as a warm-up before beginning his usual routine.

Photo by Pfc. Medina Ayala-Lo

What I've Learned: Lance Cpl. Gabriel Lee Emery

1 Oct 2014 | Pfc. Medina Ayala-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

>I was always a really small dude. Always really ripped, I just didn’t have any mass. I remember the first time I saw guys like Terry Crews and Ronnie Coleman; it made me want to be like them.

>When I first started lifting, it was more for football because it’s conditioning. But I fell in love with the weight room, more than I did the field, so I stuck with that.

>I did power lifting all through high school. Bodybuilding has always been an intriguing passion of mine. Shortly after my freshman year, I transitioned from power lifting to bodybuilding. I fell in love with it.

>I power lifted my first eight months of college and then, shortly after, ended up tearing my acromion, in my left shoulder. Recovery wasn’t bad, but it took me out for a little bit.

>I competed in the teen division when I was 19.

>It was great because I got to fulfill my dream for the first time. I got to step on stage and it really gave me a chance for a professional to look me over and assess me. It also taught me how to assess myself. That’s what’s most important. If you can’t do that, then no matter how much work you put in at the gym, you’ll never win. You have to be honest with yourself.

>A weightlifter is solely concerned about a number. He’s concerned about how much weight he can sling around.

>Bodybuilding, it’s different. It’s a mind-muscle connection. It’s something that when you lift, you have to lift with a rhythm. You can’t explode and just throw weight around. You have to be methodical with it.

>It’s therapeutic. The weight room can’t lie to you. If you’re not strong enough to lift 300 lbs., you’re not strong enough to do it. It doesn’t lie, it doesn’t leave, it’s always here, it’s always truthful and it relieves stress. Stress from life, stress from work, stress from family; you come here and it’s just you and the weights.

>The first time I hit the stage, it definitely was an eye opener. I’d say for anyone who wants to compete, the first time you shouldn’t be going for a win. You should show up with your best physique and just kind of learn from the other veteran competitors, and ask the judges what your weaknesses are.

>Bodybuilding is something else. It’s an art, it’s sculpting yourself. You’re the sculptor and you’re the masterpiece so if the masterpiece sucks, you only have yourself to blame.

>I decided to join the Marine Corps as a stepping stone to become a personal trainer.

>A Marine in my old unit told me he wanted to gain about 20 pounds of muscle. I gave him a routine, I worked out with him a little bit and I let him go on his own, and he’s done well.

>I love helping people and I’ve helped many people. It’s something I enjoy. It’s a passion that I have for all areas of fitness.

>It’s more than a hobby to me. It’s a passion, it’s a lifestyle.

>Every day I wake up, I’m happy. I’m doing what I love, I’m great at what I’m doing. I’m living the dream.

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms