What is it about hard work that makes us better people? Most likely, if you are a reader of FLEX you have aggressive goals both in and out of the gym, and your hard work has been paying off. However, work, the driving force behind achieving one's goals is fundamentally defined as the amount of energy that is transferred by a force acting through a distance, and it is neither left on the doormats nor in the humid locker rooms of our local gyms. Simply put, how we perform in the gym translates to how we perform both at our jobs and within our personal lives. What truly sets apart a champion from the average person is not only learning from past mistakes but making the necessary changes and sacrifices that will allow us to excel. With all of the media in today's world, the idea of the "champion" has changed drastically and no longer requires us to be professional athletes or grace the cover of a magazine. Every single one of us has the potential to be a champion in the eyes of our families, friends, and colleagues. Granted, I will be the first to admit that I have dreamed of shaking Joe Weider's hand while displaying a gold medal around my neck on the Mr. Olympia stage, or hanging out with some of the women's figure athletes at a post-contest party (Jamie Eason, you rock!!). Dreams are an important part of what push us forward through the final reps of a brutal set of squats or going the extra mile on a project in school or in the office, and it is important to remember that even Olympia greatness started in some local gym with the same dreams that we have. No matter who you are, these dreams, visualizations and goals help turn the fantastic into tangible aspects of our lives. WATCH MARKUS' FLEXtreme MAKEOVER VIDEO WITH PHIL HEATH During a recent trip to Guaimaca, Honduras, I spent time both volunteering in a medical clinic and teaching English to middle school and high school children of the nearby villages. Honduras is considered a third-world country as finding healthy food and safe drinking water remains both a struggle and a priority for many of the town's people. The healthcare system in Guimaca has much to be desired as it operates primarily from US donations and practices holistic methods of healing. While triaging patients, I would hear them complain of lower back pain, thoracic-spine irritation, and sore Achilles heals, and I could not help but think that all of this could be avoided with proper care and more resources. Granted, it was poor nutrition that played a large role in the cause of their symptoms, however what disappointed me further was that most of the day's patients wore footwear in extremely poor condition. With no money to buy better shoes it is unlikely that these patients will ever find any long term solution to their pain. During my time in Guaimaca, I lived "small," but I was able to think "big." I was given the opportunity to put the world into perspective and step back in order to see just how fortunate I am. There were no gyms (or weights for that matter), swimming pools, or nutritional literature. I found that many of the Guimacan people, especially the males in the age group from 14-35, were observant of my physique. By no means do I fall under the category of a "huge" guy, especially in the U.S., but in Guaimaca, many of the town's people where intrigued by above average musculature. I was able to show them my March issue of FLEX, and explained to them the different ways to build certain muscles. My experience in Honduras was only made possible by my ever-growing and relentless drive to achieve greatness in life, which currently has me putting in countless hours while I study for the MCATs in an effort to gain admission to medical school. I was able to learn about a new culture, freshen up on my Spanish skills, teach English and fitness (when applicable), and aid in a developing healthcare system. There is no doubt in my mind that the work I put in at the gym conditioned my mind and spirit to be able to fulfill my dream of volunteering overseas. So keep in mind that when we are fighting for our 11th rep or walking down the carpeted and rubber matted floors of our gym like a penguin after a grueling leg workout, it is the work we have performed on both our bodies and undoubtedly our minds that allow us to overcome obstacles and become better people. And, if you are at all like me, you will agree that it is a great feeling to know that you are stronger, both mentally and physically, walking out of the gym that day than you were when you walked in. ENTER THE FLEXtreme MAKEOVER SERIES HERE