By Sean Kimmons, Army News ServiceSeptember 13, 2018
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- When the sweat from exhausted Soldiers leaks like a sieve and their groans get louder during an intense workout, there's nothing more satisfying to Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Goins than for every one of them to finish strong.
Rather than trying to mold "show muscles" to flex in front of mirrors, pushing through one's mental barriers is the true reward of functional fitness, said Goins, who teaches courses here.
"When I tell them to go do something and they do it, it's like 'Hey, I did not know that I had that in the tank,'" said Goins, an Arkansas National Guardsman. "They end up surprising themselves and that's what I like to see at the end of a workout."
When not the officer-in-charge of the camp's airfield, Goins becomes a fitness guru, teaching those deployed here and others who are transiting to combat zones.
If the 110-degree days in the Kuwaiti desert are not enough punishment for Soldiers, they voluntarily endure painful one-hour sessions at the Combatives and Cross Training Facility here.
From the outside, the facility resembles any other tan-colored warehouse that dots the landscape at Camp Arifjan. Inside, the nearly 15,000-square-foot center boasts an array of equipment that rivals large gyms found across America.
Lines of kettlebells, rowing machines, weightlifting bars, ropes, and boxes that are jumped on during exercises await those who attend the center's functional fitness classes. Each week, more than 25 classes are offered at no charge.
The workout of the day, or WOD, changes daily. But they all share something in common: it's going to hurt, in a good way.
"You get to use all your muscles and not just one particular group of muscles," Goins said. "That's why I like to do this because every day there's something different. It's functional movements and you're doing something different every time."
By late 2020, the Army plans to roll out the Army Combat Fitness Test, which relies heavily on functional fitness events. It is also designed to replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test, which has been around since 1980.
For Goins' students, like Cpl. Destyni Gonzales, a military police officer with Area Support Group-Kuwait, today's workouts are already preparing them for the future test.
"We do more than just pushups, situps and run," Gonzales said. "The new PT test is actually incorporated into most of the workouts. I feel like this is a lot more efficient than just doing regular PT."
When she deployed to Kuwait in July, Gonzales made a pact with herself to overhaul her fitness regimen. She has since built more muscle mass, lost inches in her waistline and has seen a positive difference in her attitude.
Now, if she were to respond to a precarious call, she believes she will be more confident in her abilities.
"A lot of times emotions want to be put into the scene, but if you're mentally strong, you can handle the situation," she said. "Physically wise, being an MP, I can show up to a scene and face a 200-pound individual and I know that I'll be able to handle the situation accordingly."
Being physically fit also helps Soldiers maintain combat readiness, no matter what job they do.
"You never know when the enemy is going to attack you," Goins said. "You never know, so you always have to be prepared. Fitness is part of that being prepared."
While isolated in a foreign country, the strenuous workouts also allow Soldiers to break up the monotony of the duty day and make their deployment go by faster.
Besides functional fitness, the camp offers a diverse mix of fitness options for Soldiers to stay active.
There are three more gyms, combatives and yoga courses, two running tracks, a swimming pool, softball fields, and basketball, tennis and racquetball courts.
"Here, you don't have a family, a civilian job, traffic, you don't have all that stuff you have back home," Goins said. "So, you can deliberately direct more of your time to working out and getting in shape."