By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Rosalie Chang, NCBC Public Affairs
GULFPORT, Miss. – A dual-military couple assigned to commands aboard Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Miss. participated in the National Physique Committee (NPC) 2018 Battle on the Gulf Coast bodybuilding competition, June 16 in Biloxi, Miss.
Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Keithon Burnette, assigned to NCBC Gulfport, and Construction Electrician 2nd Class Francisco MarreroPhilippi, assigned to Naval Construction Group (NCG) 2, competed in various events during the competition and even competed against each other in two categories.
Burnette, a native of Vicksburg, Miss., said he didn’t realize they would be competing against each other in another category besides the uniform category.
“This was the first time ever that a married couple competed against each other on an NPC stage,” said Burnette. “It was awesome competing with and against my husband because it is one of our goals we are able to do together. I can’t wait to do it again.”
MarreroPhilippi stated the hardest part was the days leading up to the competition.
“It was stressful and I really thought I’d need a different place to stay for a few days because we were both cranky from being hungry and tired,” said MarreroPhilippi. “However, getting on that stage together gave me a peace of mind that may have actually given me the upper hand in that circumstance.”
MarreroPhilippi explained that he started getting serious about physical fitness when he enlisted in the Navy.
“I began training rigorously since being in “A” school in Texas, but once I actually met my husband when I was homeported with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 1 in Gulfport, the gym became our thing,” said MarreroPhilippi. “With time, being fit wasn’t enough for me; I then decided to be more and push the limits of my physique further and further.”
Burnette started his journey with something all military spouses can relate to; his significant other was out on deployment.
“When your spouse is gone and you don’t have anything to do, you start to get a little stir-crazy,” said Burnette. “I’m the type of person that needs to stay busy, so I figured it was a good time to start our meal prepping business.”
“This was an idea we talked about constantly for years,” said MarreroPhilippi. “It was our ‘after the military’ dream. But the opportunity unfolded and he convinced me it was worth taking the risk now to find out if it was meant for us.”
Burnette gained a lot of culinary expertise throughout his time in the Navy and has a dietician and nutrition educational background, so for Burnette, it was a no-brainer to start the program.
“People always asked me about meal prepping for them and I finally did it. I started with four people out of our house and that number grew so quickly,” said Burnette.
Burnette was into physical fitness but bodybuilding was never really a goal he had set for himself, however, once other competitors and coaches told him about the potential they saw in him, he decided to give it a shot.
“I thought it would be cool to do but I can’t lie, in the back of my mind I thought I wouldn’t make it; I thought I would try and end up quitting,” said Burnette. “When I was inches away from quitting, a lot of people gave me the motivation I needed, telling me that so many people looked up to me and that I was an inspiration.”
From the time he began their meal prep business to the day he stepped on stage, he went through more adversity than he could have ever imaged including two hip replacements, heart problems and a leg infection from his most recent surgery.
“These were all hurdles I had to get over to be where I am at today,” said Burnette. “Doing this competition means that I am able to motivate someone else. There is no excuse to not be where you want to be.”
Burnette’s motivation from the beginning came from his husband first and foremost, and his friend Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Derrick Roach.
“I definitely have to give it to Derrick because he saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He’s helped us with our company even before we had a cooking facility of our own,” said Barnette. “He called me out in the beginning for not following my own meal plan when I wanted to cut weight. He had faith in me and continued to push me through it.”
MarerroPhilippi stated his motivation comes from challenging himself, supporting his husband’s goals and representing their brand.
“It’s definitely challenging. Although our physiques are very different, keeping to a very similar lifestyle keeps us in check,” explained MarerroPhillipi. “More than my husband, he’s also my best friend and gym buddy, so when it comes down to ‘the game’, we keep each other on our toes and challenge each other to go harder and be better.”
The couple plans to sponsor the NPC 2018 Camilia Classic in Slidell, La. through their meal prep company and compete in the bodybuilding competition.