FORT SILL, Okla., April 26, 2018 -- "We've taken the oldest fitness center on Fort Sill, this building was built in 1968, and we turned it into the newest fitness center on Fort Sill," said Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general, during his speech at the Goldner Fitness Center grand reopening ceremony April 17.

Goldner has been closed for a couple of months to be outfitted with new equipment geared toward functional fitness, a physical exercise approach focusing on training compound muscle groups to perform common tasks. The new devices include an Alpha Warrior Battle Rig, lifting platforms with bumpers, rowers, assault bikes, plyometric boxes, a salmon ladder trainer, and more.

"We listened to what the Soldiers are saying about what they want in their gyms," he said. "It also relates to our Healthy Army Communities initiative that you have heard so much about. The goal here is not to have a good workout. The goal here is not to crush it. What we are getting out here is Soldier readiness; Soldier readiness by really enhancing fitness."

After Shoffner's speech, he joined his right-hand man Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Fagan, FCoE and Fort Sill CSM; Col. Samuel Curtis, Fort Sill Garrison commander; and Brenda Spencer-Ragland, director of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; in a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The event was followed by a Alpha Warrior Battle Rig demonstration and a functional fitness competition "Fight Gone Bad," challenged 16 Soldiers from the 428th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) and Marines from the Marine Artillery Detachment (MARDET) in the mentally and physically grueling test. Competitors performed three five-minute rounds of wall-ball shots, sumo dead lift high-pulls, calories on the rowing machine, push presses, plyometric fox jumps, and a minute for recovery between rounds.

Goldner's facility manager Stacey Oliver said with the opening of Goldner, Fort Sill is now one of eight other military installations in the country that has an Alpha Warrior Battle Rig. The rig in Sill is larger than most places, which is 32 feet long compared to most Air Force bases that have a 27-foot rig, she added.

"We definitely have one that has more obstacles in it," Oliver said. "(Functional fitness) is pretty unique right now to Fort Sill because several gyms have had small rooms with limited equipment to use, and now this entire focused directly on nothing but functional fitness, I'm just really excited to see the excitement for this type of exercise grow."

Oliver is also a certified CrossFit Level 1 instructor and is working on certifying more staff members.

"Once that happens, we will be offering a beginners course for those people who've never came in and touched a barbell before, so they can go through all the proper training and technique," she said.

The purpose of functional fitness is not only performing everyday movements in workout drills, but Oliver said it is also constantly changing up those movements during each exercise.

"You get a lot less injuries because all the muscles are having to work together to perform the movements," she said. "That way it definitely is helping Soldiers, athletes, anybody who's coming in here and using the equipment to actually take their fitness from the gym and use it outside the gym."

Commander of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Field Artillery Capt. Ron Youngblood and six Soldiers from his battery competed in Fight Gone Bad. For Youngblood, he said functional fitness comes in practical for artillerymen, especially for him and his Soldiers. They often practice function fitness-type exercises for physical training (PT) in the mornings.

"Functional fitness is the pinnacle of what Army Soldiers need; everything we do between combat and our day-to-day operations depend on us lifting and picking up things," he said. "We believe (functional fitness) is the capstone to prevent injury."

Strengthening complex muscle groups through functional fitness translates to the day-to-day physical requirements for an artilleryman, Youngblood said. Many of the workouts mimic the actions and movements performed by a redleg at the field.

"Every movement here today, represented something that a Soldier would see either in combat or during daily jobs," he said. "Picking up the barbell represents picking up a 95-pound round and putting it into the tube to fire it. When they are unloading rounds, uploading rounds, they have to jump in and out of a truck, or jump over something those are box (plyometric) jumps."

Youngblood's battery is the primary support element for all the rounds fired for the field artillery Basic Officer Leader Course, Advanced Individual Training, and MARDET. A Battery is out in the field supporting live fires three to four days a week anywhere from 180 to 380 rounds a day, he said. In an average year, they fire 20,000 rounds.

This type of fitness methodology gives those who practice is a baseline to work from their initial results. By tracking repetitions and personal-best achievements, progress and be tracked.
Youngblood this approach to physical fitness boosts Soldier resiliency.

"When you have a workout for 17 minutes that pushes your mental capacity beyond what you think it is, it teaches you that you can reach down deep and be resilience, but it also teaches you that you can do more than you can take," he said.

Capt. Brett Swanson's, Battery D was one of the four Soldiers who demonstrated the many capabilities of the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig. He said the system is a great platform for Soldiers and other users to develop their mental toughness.

"Just going from holding on to a ring (hand grip) to holding on to a little cannonball (grip), and to ropes and things like that, you have to engage your mind a lot throughout the entirety of the exercise," Swanson said.

Swanson echoed Youngblood's sentiments on how functional fitness applies to meeting the everyday standards of a Soldier. He said the movements simulate many physical task performed by an artilleryman. Swanson said his battery trains every single Soldier for the field artillery from basic combat training. They go to this battery and do basic Soldier skills, rifleman skills and train their ability to perform battle drills.

"If we are moving a Howitzer cannon from one spot to another, there's going to be obstacles," he said. "So being able to use your body and physically have to traverse something, but also have to think through the process as well is paramount to the success of all Soldiers."

Goldner is open between Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4-9 p.m. On Sundays and holidays, they are open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.