The Function Fitness Challenge
February 11, 2013
It is early morning and a Soldier is tossing his duffle bag into the back of a truck -- sound familiar? Functional Fitness, the ability to perform normal daily activities around the house or at work without undue fatigue, is the cornerstone of being able to successfully perform your mission as a U.S. Army Soldier, but how do you improve it?
Two Soldiers from the 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade recently learned how to bring the advantages of functional fitness to their fellow Soldiers in a train-the-trainer CrossFit certification class Jan. 15-16 at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan, South Korea.
CrossFit, created in the 1980s by Greg Glassman, is a fitness program designed to provide increased fitness for its participants without specialization. Whether the trainee is young or old, out or in shape, CrossFit can be scaled to easily meet the needs of an individual's fitness level.
"CrossFit is constantly varied, functional movements done at a high intensity. So, what we do is take normal natural body movements that any person on the planet should be able to do well and turn those into exercises. We then do them at a high intensity based off a person's ability level," said James Thurman, one of the "Fight Tonight" CrossFit trainers.
The evidence of its success has not only been touted by the population of CrossFitters who proudly talk about what the program has done for them but also the scientific community. In 1996, a study was published in Medicine & Science and Sports & Exercise by Izumi Tabata, of Japan's National Institute of Fitness and Sports, that show the high-intensity training that characterizes CrossFit results in noteworthy improvements in both aerobic and anaerobic (strength) capability.
"We get people who come in here and want to raise their [physical training] score," said Thurman."The old school thing is that you will get better at that by doing pull-ups, pushups, sit-ups and running. That's not necessarily the case. If you come here, CrossFit will make you a stronger athlete which will help raise your PT score."
The trainer's course is designed to teach the fundamentals of CrossFit's methodology, concepts and movements. It consists of classroom sessions, small and large group training, and is rounded off with a 50-question test.
"It is definitely challenging, not only physically but mentally," said Capt. Nathan D. Williams, a battalion physician assistant from Headquarters and Headquarters Company 2nd Aviation Battalion (Assault), 2nd Aviation Regiment, 2nd CAB. "There is a lot of information that is presented in a short period of time and I had to prepare by becoming extremely familiar with the CrossFit methodology prior to attending."
Since seats for the trainer course were limited, the competition to attend was stiff.
"Another Soldier and I had the highest male and female [physical training] average," said Spc. Joselyn Rodriguez, a power generation equipment repairer assigned to Headquarters Support Company, 602nd Aviation Support Battalion, 2nd CAB. "We both submitted our packets to battalion to attend but there was only one slot available though and luckily I was chosen."
The two-day instructor course must be taught by CrossFit employees. Once the Soldiers are certified, they become level one instructors.
Although the knowledge the Soldiers gained from this experience will benefit their units, the real benefits of attending classes like the CrossFit level one certification and others is how the Soldiers take the knowledge and transform it to assist their fellow Soldiers.
"With the movement towards functional movements in the PRT [physical readiness training] program, this course will help me to rehabilitate patients because if I know if they hurt themselves in a certain way, say if they were doing a squat incorrectly, I can then help them avoid reinjuring themselves in the future by teaching them the correct techniques in my office so they can rehabilitate and return to duty doing it correctly," said Williams.
"I want to help out with remedial physical training and see if I can introduce CrossFit to the program. If I can just help people who are not on that level yet to get fit and stay in the military, that would be good," said Rodriguez.