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A strong message
Like a Calvin Klein advertisement torn from a magazine, Brooklyn Thompson poses on stage. The message intended at the Campbell Park exhibition is not to ""be a muscle head,'' says trainer Adolph Jones, but that fitness is good for everyone's body and mind. Fitness can require as little as a couple of hours a week, says Jones, though Thompson obviously commits more time to it.
Times photos by Lisa DeJong
By SUSAN ASCHOFF
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 24, 1999
On a sweltering Saturday afternoon at Campbell Park's African Festival Market, a half-dozen body builders and weight lifters presented their well-defined abs and pecs and triceps to the people.
As proof of their labor.
As achievement chiseled by grueling effort.
As an exhortation to the African-American community to nurture its physical as well as its mental dedication to excellence.
"The gym is a grass-roots kind of a place, without hierarchy, for everyone," says fitness trainer Adolph Jones. "It is the only fitness center in the neighborhood. It's very important it survive."
Jones moved here in late 1998 to help get the Uhuru gym on its feet. He is a longtime friend of Uhuru chairman Omali Yeshitela. They met when both men lived in Oakland, Calif. "We met in a gym," Jones says. He says he knew nothing of Yeshitela's politics.
He does know there is synergy in sociological and physical striving.
Fitness is more than muscle mass. "It's the psychological thing, the self-esteem, the way you feel about yourself," Jones says. "It makes you a complete person."
The sweat rolls off the emissaries on the Campbell Park stage. Most of them are men in their 30s and 40s. They have lifted weights for decades. They are laborers and college students, fathers and husbands.
Jones is 48 and a champion power lifter in the 45- to 50-year-old division nationally.
A successful lift, he says, is "almost orgasmic. It's orgasmic in your head."
"You've conditioned yourself to do it. It took a whole lot of stuff to get there," he says. But when the time comes, "everything in your mind clears out. You don't even think about the weight."
Achieved through hours and days and years of calculated effort, the moment when the weight is lifted shatters all shackles on what is possible.
© St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.