HEALTH AND FITNESS – Calvin Bonds’ 2015 Health and Fitness Bootcamp – 2014 Winner Ken Jackson


Tell us about yourself. Who is Ken Jackson and how has the Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge impacted your life?

Wow! You know…that’s a question I’ve not been asked before. Who is Ken Jackson…hmmm? Well, for starters, I’m a truck driver with a busy workday. Busy being 12 to 14 hours a day. And though I’m able to come home everyday, instead of being over-the-road, the only thing I want to do is go to sleep. However, I do have a passion for bodybuilding! Yep (laughing). I’ve been trucking for six years and like most truckers my first year was over-the-road. Out of 365 days, I was home 45 days that first year. This meant that I lived on the road, and with that means eating on the road. And like most truckers, I ballooned to 280 pounds. After coming off the road, I immediately went to the gym, however…this time around, the gym was much harder. The weight was coming off! I say that because I’m the king of dieting! I was overweight throughout my entire childhood, up until I was high school, which by then, I learned the art of dieting, but not in a safe or conventional way. Meaning…I used laxatives, starved myself by eating nothing for days at a time. Of course the weight came off, but the BEHAVIOR was unchanged. Luckily the effects of my drastic measures didn’t take a toll as it has with others who used similar extremes to lose weight. However, after realizing within a few months that my gym efforts were futile, I decided to enlist help, by hiring a trainer. My trainer was a world class bodybuilder and fitness pro. I had been to the Mr. Olympia 10 times and the only individual, to date, to have been invited to compete in this illustrious competition. And within months, I learned the proper way to diet and the proper way to train.

Now….fast forward six years and you have a different story! (laughing) I moved from Detroit to Milwaukee and the stress of relocation has starting to take its toll. I’ve lost all definition…up…sorry…. muscle definition and my weight has increased to 250 pounds when my off season weight…off season, being when I’m not competing… should be 220. So… I’m in a new area where I don’t know anyone…. And if you know anything about bodybuilding, then you know, it’s an exclusive, members only club. Meaning, I was a new guy coming into the gym and hadn’t proven myself worthy of being on anyone’s team. So trying to find a gym partner or team to workout with was not happening! Frustrated, I go onto Facebook and rant about this! That’s when my trainer chimes and gives me the best advice ever, ‘You’ve trained with me for three years, so go off of what I taught you and you’ll do fine.’ And a few weeks later, a Facebook friend tells me about this Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge and encourages me to participate, especially since he had seen my photos of my competition and my competition prep photos. So I did, and unbeknownst I knew more than I realized….and the only way I found that out was simply answering what I thought were simple questions, other challengers had. This help propel me back into the gym and motivate me to step into an area that I clearly was gifted in.

What made you walk away as one of the winners of the 2014 Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge last year?

You know…. I’ve never won anything! Even in competition, I didn’t win. But in every competition, I learned something…. Winning is about personality! I had an energetic and infectious personality and my responses to questions and my posting of blogs about fitness were not only relevant, but personable! Everyone was able to relate to what I was saying, by how I was saying it. In other words, my personality really came through, in addition to the results. Meaning, I not only talked the talk, but I walked the walk! And people took notice and came to appreciate the value that I was not only adding to myself but to the challenge as well.

How was life for you after last year’s 2014 Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge?

Well, not so good. My health took a nose dive. I’ve been pretty open about this…. I’ve been HIV positive for 25 years…. Yeah! Praise GOD! And that in itself has its own share of challenges. My T-cell count dropped drastically! Top that with I was over forty, 47 on the 18th of this month… Yeah, thanks! And because of that, I began to notice my energy level was low. And because I know my body, I knew what it was…. my testosterone production was decreasing, which my doctor confirmed. This meant that I had to, really since I’m still going through it, I ‘have’ to re-calibrate my fitness regime. I, literally, have to force myself through a 20 minute workout in the gym, whereas before, I was a known gym rat, spending 2 hours in the gym at a time, coming in 2 to 3 times a day for six days a week. Now I’m at 3 days a week if that, but I still go!

In addition to that, I’ve been selected by my company, one of the largest trucking outfits in the country, to provide support and instructional videos to fellow drivers as part of a health initiative started up for the month May to encourage drivers to take with health and wellness seriously. And that’s been really exciting too! (laughing) I laugh because guys will see me pull out my resistance bands or perfect pushup bars at the rail yard where I deliver to, and record myself on my cell phone performing exercises which will be posting later on the company blog or social media page. And both (Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge and the J.B Hunt Health and Wellness Initiative) are just another way for me to stay on top of my fitness regiment and remain focused on my own health and wellness.

What are your goals for this year’s 2015 Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge?

Wow…this year’s goal is to be a support, moreso than a competitor. I’ve elected to be a sponsor and contribute to the cause of someone else’s success as a challenger. In addition, I provide suggestions and online support as a fitness expert. Answering any questions that might help a challenger along. But this works for me because it still keeps me motivated.

Tell us about your personal interests in being a professional weightlifting competitor and how can the Calvin Bonds Health and Fitness Challenge help you to reach those goals.

Seriously Man, it’s a way for me to stay abreast of new products and services offered in fitness and allows me to remain relevant with what others are going through, which will always prove to be beneficial when I’m trying to help someone else, that may not even have participated in the challenge, but I’ve been able to cross paths with and assist them with trying to accomplish their fitness objectives.

What are you currently doing to promote health and fitness at your job?

(Laughing) I guess I got ahead of myself, but again, I’ve been selected to provide exercise training and nutrition videos for other drivers as part of a company wide initiative targeted at getting drivers healthy and fit.

What drives you?

What drives me? What drives me? Honestly, I’d have to say the desire to get back on that stage and compete. Oh…in addition to being able to look 20 years old when I’m 50! (laughing)

In closing, what is your message for people reading this article who have their own health and fitness goals?

Nothing is impossible. The most important arsenal we have in our individual life toolboxes are ‘a made-up mind!’ When you’ve really made up in your mind that this is what you want and you set your sights on getting there, then it will happen. I hate to sound cliche but hey, here it goes, ‘if you build it, then they will come!’ They being, a great body, a great relationship, a great attitude, self-esteem, self-confidence….whatever it is you want out of it, it will come! Because one thing I’ve learned in fitness is this…. What you put into it, is what you’ll get out of it!