The First in a Series in Which Dr. Hughes Describes His Indoctrination and Journey into Sports, Fitness, Nutrition, and Injury Prevention
From the time that Dr. Kenneth Hughes was capable of walking, he was running. This journey through fitness and sports started at about nine months of age according to his mother. Dr. Hughes would run back-and-forth across the bathroom floor and slide in his pajamas. His mother just knew that he was going to fall down and open a huge cut in his head or get knocked out. Those things never happened but Dr. Hughes was into a whole lot of messes with all of his activities.
His mother said that before he was four years old, she took him to the emergency room so many times that she thought the doctors and hospital staff were going to contact child welfare. Dr. Hughes was extremely active and was looking to conquer new frontiers on a daily basis, whether it was jumping out of trees or jumping out of swings or running and falling.
Dr. Hughes began to channel his energies into more organized activities that continued through childhood as he competed in soccer with club teams till about the age of six years old. About that time, he entered elementary school and competed in sports throughout those early years but nothing organized. He also competed in swimming during the summer in an organized swim league.
Dr. Hughes was having fun during those years to say the least, but he was not really going after an athletic pursuit with a singular focus. He was also at the head of the class as was anticipated and expected. When he reached about the age of 12, Dr. Hughes became fascinated with strength and building strength. In one particularly relatable story, Dr. Hughes was tested for bench press prior to any weight training in a physical education class. At the age of 12, he was stronger than the entire class by a huge amount but also the physical education coach. When you have a gift, you want to pursue that gift.
So at the age of 12, Dr. Hughes asked his parents to purchase a DP weight machine, and Dr. Hughes’s odyssey into strength training began. He would spend the majority of free time working out on that little machine, changing apparati and working different parts of the body. Dr. Hughes recognized that strength training could provide manifold benefits to his athletic pursuits. So he began to incorporate the weightlifting and the strength building exercises with other activities which at that time included soccer, Taekwondo, and swimming.
Dr. Hughes began to get more serious by age 14 as he really began to focus on improving strength and size. He started at 125 lbs and was up to 215 lbs in about 15 months. From the age of 14 to 18, Dr. Kenneth Hughes began making a transition from swimming and soccer to joining the track team and starting shotput and discus. There was no coach for shotput or discus so he had to learn the technical aspects on his own. In his first competition after practicing only a few weeks, he won his first shotput meet.
That was the spark he needed and motivated him to set his sights higher. In less than a year, he won the indoor state champion in the shotput. By the outdoor season, he became the outdoor state champion and state record holder in the shotput. By the end of his junior year, he won the silver medal at the nationals in both the shotput and the discus. By the end of his senior year, he was recruited for athletic scholarships at Stanford, Rice, and many academic giants that also had a Division 1 Track and Field Program.
Dr. Hughes made the decision to refuse those scholarships and attend Harvard University. Harvard University had and continues to have the finest academic reputation on the planet. Harvard provided a framework in which he could pursue academics but still pursue Division I athletics. He was a four year letter winner on the track and field team, but he soon shifted his focus from track and field to a career in medicine.
Throughout medical school and residency and fellowship, Dr. Hughes continued to exercise, lift weights, and build his body keep me in shape and for stress relief. Those same things are part of the reason for working out today, and it is hopefully the reason why other people work out.
At the beginning of medical school, Dr. Hughes was hit by a careless driver that resulted in a serious automobile accident. The resultant trauma necessitated four different surgeries to repair one thing or another. Over a year long period of recuperation and rehabilitation, Dr. Hughes was gradually able to walk and eventually return to strength pursuits and weightlifting. It would be another decade before he was able to fully regain strength and confidence from those days when he was 23 years old. Throughout this period of time, Dr. Hughes continued to work out with weights and tried to rebuild what was lost. Needless to say, this period of time was incredibly frustrating for an individual who could bench press over 600 pounds naturally to someone who was having difficulty walking. Everything physical was just so easy in the past, and the future presented obstacles to all things physical.
The time for exercise and fitness during residency and fellowship was little. And there was even less time as a busy plastic surgeon so Kenneth Hughes ultimately committed to building a small home gym where he could work out at all hours of the days and night. At age 43, it is certainly more difficult to keep everything intact and looking reasonable. Age is not your friend, and despite optimal management, you will notice things like increasing skin laxity and more difficulty retaining muscle mass. However, negotiating this is what you must do to be able to get the most of your body as you age. Dr. Hughes will try to focus on some of the things that he does to improve these aspects with regard to nutrition, exercise, and injury prevention as you age. That will be one of the thrusts for this website as well as helping to explore the benefits of physical fitness and bodybuilding.