Trainer to the stars
By Mark Munsey , Special to the Hickam Kukini
/ Published April 09, 2007
HICKAM AFB, HI -- If not for a sharp-eyed recruiter's assistant more than two decades ago, Team Hickam would assuredly be far less 'Fit to Fight.'
Benny Miguel was a civilian personal trainer in 1985 when he joined the Air Force's delayed entrance program, awaiting basic training and then technical school in his assigned administrative career field.
Just prior to his departure, a member of the recruiting team was reviewing his file and came to an obvious conclusion: Recruit Miguel would be a prime candidate for direct duty into the fitness center world.
More than 20 years and 13,000 fitness center-training hours later, countless military and family members worldwide are in better physical condition thanks to the last-minute change to Master Sergeant Miguel's life path.
But don't ask him about his 'job.'
"I don't have a job," Sergeant Miguel, 15th Services Squadron Fitness Center section chief corrects. "I have the chance to help people trying to improve their health, fitness, and strength training," something he considers the greatest reward possible.
A large understatement, according to Col. Matt Dorschel, 15th Mission Support Group commander and one of the many Benny beneficiaries.
"Being a trainer isn't even in Benny's job description," Colonel Dorschel said. "But he will spend the time to instruct anyone who asks.
"You don't meet a lot of guys like him, and I am privileged to have him on my team."
It's an attitude that is reflected down the line, according to fitness center patron Mike Elinski.
In addition to his exhaustive knowledge of fitness and strength training programs, Mr. Elinski calls Sergeant Miguel "a very good leader," adding, "The look of the facility and the top-notch customer service from the center's support personnel are fantastic.
"They all follow Benny's lead," he said.
Not that all of Sergeant Miguel's efforts are team oriented. In 1994, he came in second in the Pacific Armed Forces Bodybuilding competition and won in his weight class in the 1996 event.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Miguel is getting ready to return to the civilian life, retiring, he says, in a few months. Those who want to take advantage of his knowledge have precious few remaining opportunities. He conducts a Basic Strength Training Course Thursdays at 1 p.m., but with his commitment to individualized assistance - only four students per class -- space is limited. To sign up, contact the fitness center at 448-4640.
"Hickam's fitness center is the best I've been in. From our leadership's commitment to the facility to our state-of-the-art equipment, there has never been a better time to start, modify or continue your strength training regimen," Sergeant Miguel said.
All in part to a fortunate change in career field two decades ago.