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Trumpeter presses iron for Marine Corps

By Mr. Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | April 26, 2007

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He stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 198 pounds. With his broad shoulders and 20-inch biceps, it might be difficult to picture this power lifter, who bench presses more than 400 pounds, playing a trumpet.

This particular power lifter is the exception. 

Cpl. Garrett Anthony Martin, a native of Kingwood, Texas, has two passions in life, power lifting and playing the trumpet. He does both in the Marine Corps, daily.

“I have the best job anyone can have,” Martin said. “I get to do both of the things I love.  Not everyone gets this opportunity.”

As a young boy, he watched his father lift weights in their home. Martin began to mimic his father’s form and technique, thus building a bond that still holds strong today.  At the age of seven, Martin started using very light weights along with punching and speed bag workouts in their garage.

“I wanted him to be able to defend himself and hold his own in any situation,” said his father, Lynn Martin. “He was not as tall as most kids, but he was extremely strong, and better skilled than all of them; he never had the problem of being bullied.”   

When Martin was in the sixth grade he began to play the trumpet while continuing his workout regimen.  His efforts earned him the honor of being an All-State trumpet player at Kingwood High School.  He also was active in other school sports including baseball, basketball and running track.

“I did not allow him to play football, though he was good enough to play varsity.  I was concerned he would not continue his trumpet,” his father said. “His trumpet was going to pay for his college.”  

Martin, who was doing heavy weight training, surpassed his father at age 17. He was working out so much and so hard that his father bought him a weight lifting bench and enough 45s for him to bench over 400 pounds.

“He was benching such heavy weight that I could not spot him, so he started working out at our local athletic club too,” his father said.

After graduating from high school, he received a musical scholarship to Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, Texas. He then transferred to the University of Houston, on another musical scholarship, where he married his wife Rebecca. He was the principle lead trumpet player at both universities.

According to Martin, he had been practicing playing the trumpet since he was 11 and has always wanted to play in a symphony.  

While at the University of Houston he played in the university wind ensemble and also performed with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.

However, when he was nearly finished with college, world events captured his attention and stirred a strong since of patriotism. 

“I felt the need to contribute to our country,” he said. “I went to the Marine recruiter and talked about what I had been doing and how I wanted to serve.”

“I wanted the most difficult challenge and I knew from the reputation of the Marine Corps that it would definitely test my limits,” he said.  “I chose to be a musician in the Marine Corps because I had played the trumpet for many years and wanted to use that talent for our country.  Also, I knew the Marine Corps band had a reputation of excellence.”

Martin joined the Marine Corps and attended basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in November 2005.

“We are glad he chose the Marine Corps because we believe they are the best-trained and the best-equipped branch of our Armed Forces,” his father said.  “We are so very proud of him being a Marine and he has always made us proud for being the son that he is.”

In addition to his duties as a Marine, Martin continues to concentrate on his power lifting, spending an hour and a half in the gym, five days a week and watching his diet.  

“My wife is a big part of my strength building,” Martin said.  “She knows that I have to eat more than three times a day and pizza or fast food is not a meal to me. She always has chicken breasts cooked and ready for me to take with me to work so that I get the right amount of protein each day.”

“I am so proud of him for choosing to serve his country.  He is my hero and a source of inspiration to me,” said his wife, Rebecca.  “He has a God-given gift of strength.   It’s what he loves doing.  

“I’ve always said he’s like a kid in a candy store when he is at the gym.  He never wants to leave,” she said

In the gym, Martin relies on his spotter, Dustin Spina, to help keep him motivated, safe and focused.  Spina assisted Martin during his first competition.

“My job as a spotter is to keep him focused and get him ready by running him through a pre-lift routine,” Spina said. “Since I started lifting with him, I have been more focused and disciplined in the gym.”

“When you see someone who weighs 198 pounds bench press 465 pounds, it definitely motivates you to set your goals and achieve them within a certain time period,” he said.  “I would probably say the most important thing I have learned from him is that lifting is a lifestyle and it takes time and dedication to improve.” 

Martin, who is quiet and focused when he lifts, says a prayer before each set.  

“I sit down on the bench and right before I lay down, I always ask God to protect me on the lift,” he said. 

Martin stated that when lifting hundreds of pounds at a time, many things can go wrong with that kind of weight over your body. 

“Power lifting can be a very dangerous sport but I put my faith in God to protect me,” he said.  “When I pray before I lift it gives me confidence and reassurance that I am not going to get hurt.”

Martin made his debut at the 2007 United States Power Lifting Federation Georgia State Power Lifting Championships and Deep South Bench Press Competition March 31. Martin, competing in the 198-pound weight class, won first place in the Novice and Men’s Open by bench pressing 430 pounds raw.

Although it was not his best raw lift, meaning without a bench press shirt, it was  good enough to bring home two trophies.

“I have always wanted to compete and thought this would be a good time to enter and represent the Marine Corps,” he said. 

He has already set his eye on the next event which is the United States Power Lifting Federation National Championship in Las Vegas in August. 

Martin said he credits his parents with instilling in him a strong work ethic.  

“They have gone out of their way to provide support to me and my goals,” he said. “They bought me more and more weights as I began to lift heavier. They bought me new trumpet(s) to help me continue to play the music I love.” 

“Garrett has always had our support in everything he has ever wanted to do,” said Lynn Martin. “His mother, Nancy, and I were there cheering him on and affording him whatever it took to be successful.” 

With the ongoing support from his family and friends, Martin continues to press and play; setting higher goals.   

“I love to power lift and play the trumpet,” he said. “The Marine Corps has given me the opportunity to do both.”
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