Students embody new form of dieting

The late Robert Atkins made millions from his famed Atkins Diet. However, FAMU has its own Atkins. His diet would make the four percent of Americans currently on the diet and 17 percent of Americans who have tried the diet envious.

Teddy Atkins – four-time winner of the FAMU Fitness Competition – is the Atkins. His seemingly incredulously lean four percent body fat would make a marathon runner seem obese. His strict diet, not to mention his countless hours in the gym, have made him virtually unbeatable in campus bodybuilding competitions.

The sheer intimidation of Atkins’ dominance on the FAMU bodybuilding scene forced half of the eight entrants in the competition to not show up.

Lost in Atkins’ dominance has been the overall progression of the FAMU fitness program and competition. He has been so dominant, his only involvement in the 2006 competition figures to be as a guest poser.

“The quality has improved, people are looking better. The competitiveness and the quality (the competition over the years) has improved,” said Gei-Nam Lim, FAMU’s fitness director.

In 2003, when Atkins won the third of his four consecutive titles-there was not a competition in 2004-he said the competition was “really friendly” because he trained some of the athletes, as was the case this year.

In 2003, Atkins was head and shoulders above the competition. In 2005, Atkins’ title was safe as the fitness program’s budget. Rocky at best.

“The facility is too small,” Lim said. “It’s a shame we have such a small facility, but help is looming in a new facility (in December.)”

“In five years,” Atkins chimed, showing the cynicism between the fitness center and FAMU’s administration.

Lim’s frustration was evident as he jokingly threatened to retire numerous times during his interview.

“All my students are volunteers,” Lim said. “I cannot pay my (student fitness trainers) to work. We need support from the administration.”

Support from campus administration would help the fitness center not only pay student trainers, but conduct classes and programs that would help otherwise unmotivated students exercise.

“You can definitely see the declining student health in reverse correlation to money (allocated) toward fitness,” said Campus Recreation Director Robert Carroll.

While Lim admitted to not having exact statistics, he guessed as many as 30 percent of Rattler men and 60 percent of FAMU women are obese. Lim’s reasoning for FAMU having fewer obese men is “good genetics and good nutrition.”

Contrary to the manner in which most students identify with obesity, Lim defined obesity as the percentage of body fat a person has, rather than his or her weight.

For every Teddy Atkins FAMU has, there are two or three students whose version of weightlifting is carrying a backpack from the stadium to the General Classroom Building.

“It seems the student culture seems to take less importance on their health,” Atkins said. “FAMU is a mini-America.”

Whereas Atkins said students were being apathetic to their health, Carroll felt FAMU’s inadequate intramural facilities were the reason students seem apathetic toward their health.

“A lot of our students are in city leagues or other fitness centers around town,” Carroll said. He also added that dedicated students “are not going to be denied.”

It is the denial of students, Atkins, Carroll and Lim that has kept afloat the dream of FAMU eventually leading all HBCU’s in fitness.

At the time, Carroll was referring to weightlifting. He could easily have been talking about the state of the FAMU fitness program when he said;

“You can’t build a big body (without) a big foundation.”

Contact Will Brown at