When Reggie Bennett was thirteen years old, he endured a spinal cord injury that sent him rolling down a new life path. As a spiritual person and with the support of a close-knit family, Reggie grew up to find his new rhythm as a disability advocate, community leader, motivational speaker, personal trainer and wheelchair bodybuilder.
Reggie and his wife, Jolene, reside in Las Vegas, and are the proud parents of a beautiful, 27-year-old daughter, Alexis.
At 22, Reggie Gets Involved with Professional Bodybuilding
Twenty-five years ago, a guy named Stevey Karr made a big impact on Reggie Bennett’s life. As the founder of the Steve Karr Vegas Classic, one of the longest-running bodybuilding competitions in Las Vegas, Steve saw talent in young Reggie.
Steve gave Reggie his first guest posing opportunity as an amateur in the sport of bodybuilding. That experience exposed Reggie to something that would be a lifelong passion, and today, he’s participated in 15 competitions.
Sadly, in January of this year, Steve took his own life. As his son, Austin Karr, was planning the upcoming event, he reached out to Reggie – knowing the connection between he and his father – and asked him to participate on November 4.
“Reggie B” to Guest Pose at Steve Karr Vegas Classic Bodybuilding Competition
When Reggie was asked to guest pose at the upcoming competition to raise awareness for suicide prevention, he knew he wanted to do it – not only to honor Steve, but also because depression and suicide are often common concerns within the disability community.He knew it was an issue that needs attention, and that in using his platform to raise awareness, lives could be saved. So, after a couple of years focusing on other aspects of his career and family, Reggie recommitted himself to the gym and a strict training schedule.
“Suicide is a real issue in our community. I believe, and have experienced for myself, that if we think healthy, we can be healthy. So, why not take this platform that I have to help and educate others?”
Training for bodybuilding appearance and competitions takes an immense amount of dedication. Reggie says his weekly schedule includes 20 hours of intense workouts in the gym, plus about an hour each night of muscle “posing” (or flexing) to keep his individuals muscles tuned and defined. He also pays attention to eat nutritious foods and get enough sun exposure – as it is good for the muscles.
Reggie will be keeping up this routine for a while, too, because he has several more events coming up. Along with the competition, he was invited to do “guest poses” (which usually involves posing and speaking about fitness) for several groups over the next 6-9 months.
He served as the Keynote Speaker at United Spinal’s Chapter Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas this October, and will be featured at a junior wheelchair basketball event in Lake Havasu in early 2018.
Thirty-three years post injury, Reggie says it’s time for him to officially retire from wheelchair body building next summer, when he finishes his scheduled events. But, competing or not, fitness will always be an important piece of Reggie’s life and personal wellness – and a passion that he will continue to share with others.
Bodybuilding As a Tool for Wellness
Reggie says it’s important to remember that bodybuilding doesn’t just build big muscles, but it has a number of other important health benefits that can positively impact the quality of life for people who use wheelchairs. Plus, you get to actually see the results in your body – which is rewarding.
Reggie B’s Benefits of Wheelchair BodyBuilding
- Diabetes management and prevention, because physical activity burns sugar and strengthens vital organs
- Reducing obesity by burning calories and building muscles
- Improved strength and loss of weight can make transfers easier, and even reduce pain and muscle spasticity
“With small, healthy choices, we can see noticeable differences in our lives,” Reggie explains.
Reggie has dedicated a large part of his adult life to helping, mentoring and training people who use wheelchairs, but they’re not the only ones encouraged by watching his example.He says that other guys, often able-bodied, approach him during or after a workout to tell him that they are motivated by his dedication and commitment at the gym. He likes to tell them, and newly-injured patients whom he mentors, “If I can do it, YOU can do it.”
Are you interested in wheelchair bodybuilding?
Reggie works with people, locally in Las Vegas and virtually, to help create workout routines and fitness plans. Find him on Facebook to connect and see all his workout demo videos!
We can all help prevent suicide. If you know someone that is struggling, know that there’s help. Call the National Suicide Prevention line at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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