Cheltenham police has its own Schwarzenegger
He may not wear a cape or possess “super powers,” but underneath that shirt and tie — or police uniform depending on the day — is a pretty strong guy.
Cheltenham police Lt. John Frye, a competitive bodybuilder, achieved professional status this year, a goal he embarked upon in 2009. Frye won the May 5 Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders Atlantic Super Show, a natural amateur bodybuilding competition, in the men’s 40 and up class, earning his master’s pro card. (See www.thenaturalmusclenetwork.com.)
While Frye previously won the June 2010 OCB Central Eastern Seaboard States overall title, the May 5 show was a pro-qualifying event, Frye explained. The difference between being an amateur and a professional, he said, is that amateurs compete to become a pro and win trophies, while professionals compete for money.
But for Frye, who describes himself as “an extremely competitive person,” it’s never been about money.
“The goal was to earn a pro card,” he said in a July 31 interview. “I told my wife I’m retiring,”
A graduate of North Catholic High School, where he played baseball, Frye said, “I always had an interest in weight lifting and bodybuilding. I was a big Arnold Schwarzenegger fan. He was probably the best bodybuilder of all time.”
Frye maintained his interest while earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at Temple University, followed by a master’s from St. Joseph’s University after being hired by the Cheltenham Police Department in 1995 and working his way up to corporal, sergeant, and in 2011, lieutenant. Previously a patrol sergeant, Frye now oversees the detective division and is a leader for Cheltenham’s SWAT team.
Having lifted weights for close to 25 years, Frye said, “I always wanted to compete as a bodybuilder, but never had the time … I just made a decision to do it.”
So in 2010 he hired a professional trainer who put together a nutrition and weightlifting plan geared toward competing and focused on his goal.
“It takes about 20 weeks to get ready for a show,” Frye said, which means following a strict diet and spending two hours a day at the gym five days a week to lift weights and do cardio exercises.About a month before the show, time at the gym escalates to twice a day.
The diet, comprising proteins, fats and carbs, requires eating five to six times a day and drinking one and a half to two gallons of water, he said.
“I normally try to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” Frye said, “but [the strict diet] made special events, like birthdays, a lot harder. I have to bring my food with me.
“There are big-time sacrifices involved. It takes a lot of time away from family life,” said the 40-year-old married father of two. “I pretty much had to eat different meals all the time,” but “my wife was very supportive.”
“I never realized how time-consuming it is,” he said. “The most challenging, part is nutrition; the lifting part is easy.
The show started with a two-hour event in which everyone in his class was on the stage at the same time, required to hit mandatory poses.
“This is when [the judges] determine who wins the show,” Frye said, but the awards are not announced until the end.
After a break and prior to the awards, each competitor does an individual oneminute routine, he said. With parts of the movie score from “The Dark Knight” playing in the background, Frye “struck some mandatory poses, but put an emphasis on trying to entertain the crowd.”
With his career still moving forward — he attended the Northwestern School of Staff and Command in 2008 and will be going to the FBI National Academy in Quantico in October, and his 11- and 13-year-old children maintaining full schedules, Frye said, “The time it requires to do this is not there for me anymore. After three years it gets to be too much.”
Having served as a OCB judge several times, Frye said he will probably stay on as a judge, but “will take a year off and evaluate whether I want to compete.”
“This was something I challenged myself to do. I set out to accomplish a goal and I accomplished it.”
Cheltenham police Lt. John Frye.