Bodybuilding Challenge Teaches Teen About Himself, Goals, And Achievement!

Sioux City Bandits wide receiver Erv Whitehead, explained what it is to go through a football tryout camp. 'There are pretenders, and then there are contenders,' he said.
Sioux City Bandits wide receiver Erv Whitehead, explained what it is to go through a football tryout camp. "There are pretenders, and then there are contenders," he said. With sports having evolved to its present-day hype, we almost forget that there are young people out there who survive on their own talents and merits and not the protection of parents and coaches who make gods out of them. The talent-merit types are the contenders.

Luke Erichsen is a throwback to the years when kids were hard-nosed. The difference today is that young people like Luke have added scruples and honesty to their life's direction. Luke is a senior at Remsen Union High School. He's 6'0", weighs 175. He played quarterback, offensive and defensive end, linebacker, and for two years was the Rockets long-snapper on punts, PATs and field goals. He will finish up with baseball this summer. After that, Luke will be attending Iowa State University where he will major in engineering. By the way, he's tops academically in his class with a 3.9 GPA, was reared on a farm, has not only been in sports but also school plays, is a band member, volunteers to work with youths, and is the youngest of three kids in the Erichsen home.

Are his parents Jean and Al proud? Yes, but they are incredibly modest talking about their son. Nothing resembling bragging or remotely touting their son's accomplishments comes up or out of a conversation with them. But tell them how hard Luke works, that he never complains, or that Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Brown Universities have contacted him, and the only indication of pride on the Erichsens' stoic faces is their eyes - you can see their eyes water and beam with unequivocal joy.

So, end of story, right? Well, not really. Luke is going after something very few youths his age in the Midwest even think of doing. He's entering the 2002 Natural Iowa and Central Midwest Bodybuilding Championships, Saturday, May 4, in Waukee near DesMoines. That means -- just like the rare glimpses of pro bodybuilders seen occasionally on ESPN-TV - Luke will be competing. He will stand on a stage in posing trunks, before a packed audience, going through five compulsory poses in a routine set to 60 seconds of music. "My older brother did this when he was in high school," he said, "and I was encouraged by my former coach to go for it." He liked the challenge, he explained, and wanted to see what his transformation would look like. So after three years of weight training, the last year geared toward muscular development, Luke entered himself for the upcoming competition. He's learned a lot about himself. "I learned that bodybuilding is very singular," Luke said. "You wind up working by yourself a lot. You also learn that very few people know or understand anything about what it means or how someone accomplishes this kind of physical pursuit." Since last November, Luke traveled almost daily to LeMars where he was engaged in a research program held at Gehlen Catholic High School. He, along with 27 other teenagers, were trained in a program geared toward physical, mental and academic enhancement. "I learned about myself in ways I never thought about before," he said. The research program sought to determine if self-esteem could be determined through physical self-development and then expanded into academic achievement. "I don't know what the results are yet," Luke said, "but whatever happened sure worked for me."

Already a high achiever, Erichsen said he discovered insight into the meaning of words like concentration, focus, and muscle contraction. He also learned about how to approach personal obstacles. "I learned that virtually anything may be achieved providing I am willing to be patient, have goals, budget and work my time, and encourage myself daily." Through customized training provided by his instructor, Luke added nearly 2 inches of natural muscle mass, while dropping from 8 to 4 percent body fat. An ectomorph (tall and slim body frame), Luke also found that proper nutrition and eating has a profound effect on physical development or what a person looks like. "I believe I can take my body to just about any level I wish to as long as I understand the physical nuances involved," he said. "It's really incredible what a person can do if he sets his mind to doing it."

"Everything revolves around proper form and technique," he said of his weight training. "Without that, and a personalized plan prepared and monitored by a certified personal trainer," he said, "it would be pretty much hit or miss. Muscular development whether in bodybuilding or for sports is a science," Luke said. "So much can be accomplished when you have someone assisting you who is technically and personally knowledgeable. It's the only way to realize positive results."

Luke said that his goal right now is to compete in the upcoming competition. After that, he plans on playing baseball in his final season at RU. Then he'll be off to Ames. He's not certain whether he will continue in bodybuilding, but he said he plans to make weight training a lifetime activity. "It is really a healthy way to stay in shape and look fit," he said. "That's something I want to do the rest of my life."