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GREENWOOD Dist. – On Halloween day in 2006, many children probably dressed up in their choice of character for the year to attend school, and the adults found a way to join in on the fun. But for Reggie Cooper, it’s a day he’ll never forget.
He was sentenced to a seven-year penitentiary facility. Cooper was barely the age of a sophomore in college, and yet he was faced with the horror of spending most of his days being confined to a small four-wall room behind metal bars.
Seventeen years later to the date, Cooper is a successful business owner who runs a gym on Tulsa’s historic Black Wall Street in the Greenwood District.
Powerlifting is what propelled him from a life of hardship to a life of purpose.
It Was A Heck Of A Journey Bro
Cooper learned at an early age that basketball was not his favorite sport. When he would go to Chamberlain Park with his older brother, he noticed that he would rarely get picked to play on a team.
He mentioned, initially, not being picked up was fun and games, but after a while, it was no longer fun. His boredom with basketball led him to the moment that would go on to change his life.
“I’m just like man, this is boring, nobody wants to pick me up,” Cooper told The Black Wall Street Times.
He saw some older guys working out, and became intrigued, to the point where he would begin sneaking in the gym to observe the weight room.
“I see the guys, they swole up and they’re in there running, so I sneak in, not permission. I snuck in because it wasn’t any kids allowed in Chamberlain Park,” Cooper said.
Reggie Cooper stated that the excitement he got from sneaking in the gym as a youth has never left him.
“I’ll never forget it, bro,” he said. “I’m 37 years old, and the fire I still got in me from working out is the same fire from when I was a kid. That’s what’s crazy bro, it never left me.”
God’s Plan: A brand with a positive message
Cooper was released from prison exactly three years from the date he went into the facility on Halloween. His time served is where he developed his discipline and began gaining strength and size.
Every day he would eat ramen noodles and tuna fish with crackers on top. He began gaining weight, despite having no workout equipment. Through creative means, he worked out.
“I would find probably the heaviest guy I could find — close to 300 pounds– and have him sit at the end, and I go to the other end and bench press his weight. So, it was like body weight.” Cooper told The Black Wall Street Times.
He continued, “I was getting creative… I would find these big, long logs, and I would like just shoulder press. I would find the big rocks and I curl them.”
The power of exposure
Reggie Cooper became a YouTuber, and through his work and dedication he began to attract attention. Eventually he gained the attention of a popular fitness YouTuber named “Da Hulk.”
Hulk reached out to him after seeing a video of Cooper bench pressing 415 pounds. Hulk was impressed by his abilities due to his stature, along with him being a natural bodybuilder who doesn’t use illegal enhancement products.
“You’re different.” Hulk told Cooper. “I’ve been paying attention to your messages, and I want to work with you.”
Through the relationship Cooper built with “Da Hulk”, he brought him to his gym in Tulsa and held an event for the children in the community.
Hulk told Cooper that he needs to tell his story, to which Cooper replied, “I am really embarrassed.”
Cooper stated that he can share his story because he knows it was God’s plan.
“My life is more than a movie, and people don’t understand this was only God’s plan for me to get to where I’m at today… literally everything I’ve been through is God’s plan.”
The Real Reggie Cooper: Triumph
Reggie Cooper is someone who expresses himself and shares his story through fitness. He has experienced a lot of adversity in his life but has overcome it.
Now, through Muscle Squad Gym, he is giving back to his community. He trains young kids, adults of all ages, and athletes. Several of his trainees are currently playing football at Division I colleges, and some are in the NFL.
Cooper serves as an inspiration to anyone who is chasing their dreams.
“I want people to know that anything is possible, man,” he said. “Never count yourself out. The main thing is to believe in yourself and keep going.”