FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- The new Army Combat Fitness Test is scheduled to replace the current Army Physical Fitness Test by October of 2020, but units across the Army are preparing for it now. Out of all formations the Army has across the world, only one can claim an enlisted Soldier who has maxed the test: 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), the "Frozen Chosin."
All Army units have that "one" Soldier. The PT-master. Spc. Juan Gonzalez, a scout with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-32IN takes physical fitness very seriously. He regularly maxes out the APFT (a score of 300), and recently maxed out the ACFT (a score of 600), making him the second Soldier in the Army to achieve such a goal.
"It all started in high school where I wrestled and weight-lifted. Then I got into power lifting for a few years and cross-fit where I competed a lot." Gonzalez said. "Then I drifted off into solely Olympic lifting and went to Nationals where I placed in the top 20. After that I joined the Army."
Like many Soldiers who joined the Army later in life, Gonzalez has seen his share of life outside of a military career, and saw joining as a way to straighten out and get on track.
"It's been the story of my life. I never felt like I had a career. I'm very athletic and competitive, but a little old to be trying out for the Olympic team at 29. I went to college a few times, but the structure the Army offered has helped me stick to things and get them done."
Like his Army career, Gonzalez has a habit of finding a path to success and running it to ground with tenacity. When he found out just how much the ACFT incorporated into what he already knew about cross-fit, he made it his mission be on top and help others get there with him.
"I'm looking at getting to Ranger school soon, and going Special Forces would be awesome. I want to be the best I can be. Me and a lot of other Soldiers are in the gym countless nights, working on strength and speed. It feels good," Gonzalez said.
When the ACFT hits Army Ranks in 2020, it will be the first time all Soldiers, male and female, will be held to the same standard of fitness and accomplishment. It levels the playing field dramatically by introducing events specifically designed to test fitness levels and push Soldiers to the edge of burnout.
It will be difficult. It will be stressful. But it's meant to be. Thankfully, with Soldiers like Spc. Gonzalez in our formations, motivating and supporting the troops, we can all aspire to be the tip of the spear.