FORT SILL, Okla., Oct. 30, 2019 -- Goldner Fitness Center held its Second Annual Ghost Thrusters team competition Oct. 26 with significant displays of effort put forth by the nine women's and 11 men's teams throughout.

Being previously unaware of CrossFit nor of attempting any of its exercises, I attended the competition not sure of what I would see. But immediately it became apparent that this form of exercise can be extremely demanding.

Stacey Oliver, fitness center manager, said this year in the men's divisions five of the six top placing teams consisted of active-duty servicemen.

"This was our fourth competition, and each time we hold one, it seems our military participation grows. So, that's obviously our goal -- to give service members plenty of chances to compete and have fun here," she said.

The competition consisted of four Workouts of the Day (WODs) with the longest a 20-minute session of various exercises. Oliver said the other three were closer to 12 minutes.

"The level of intensity you approach each workout is totally different with CrossFit as compared to a traditional physical training event or gym workout," she said. "Add in the element of competition and the adrenaline and extra effort, and your body gets completely destroyed."

Aspects of the competition reinforced the idea of team, such as in the third WOD team members ran a 400-meter loop around the fitness center linked together by a length of cloth. Other exercises incorporated synchronous movements such as stepping over a barbell and doing burpees together.

The exercises reinforced displays of mutual respect that Oliver said is strong among those who participate in CrossFit.

"It's kind of the backbone of CrossFit, the community and support shared. Even when teams would finish a WOD you often see them get up to cheer other teams still finishing up," she said.

Each competition also helps build that community as Oliver said a few more new people show up for Goldner's CrossFit classes.

Those classes meet Mondays and Fridays at 5:15 and 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 5:15 and 9 a.m., and 5 and 6 p.m.; and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m.

Capt. Tarell Roberts, a Captains Career Course student, and Staff Sgt. Richard Hernandez, Headquarters and Headquarters Support, 434th Field Artillery Brigade, were one example of that community concept. The two met during CrossFit classes and decided to form "Turn Down for WOD" and compete together.

While their assessment of CrossFit was that it's a great workout, their post WOD responses became much more succinct.

"Brutal," said Hernandez.

That was readily apparent to me as I saw women gasping for breath after completing a series of exercises, or men sprawled out on the floor practically unresponsive. And yet, all got up and pushed themselves again.

Competing as "Asian Twang," 1st Lt. Thomas Hsieh and Sgt. 1st Class Tyler Osborn of 3rd Battalion, 13th Field Artillery, brought different strengths to their combined effort. Hsieh said Osborn offers strength, while he pitches in with endurance.

"This kind of exercise offers fantastic benefits anaerobically," said Osborn. "I feel like my conditioning is way better since we started this."

Osborn, who looks to have the brawn and bulldog determination of a fullback, proceeded to display some of that strength in WOD 2 as he set a personal best of 235 pounds in the power-clean lift.

Later following WOD 3, Hsieh said the second 400-meter run that occurred after two sets of synchronized thruster lifts and burpees was much slower. And, a final WOD 4 challenge still awaited them. Both men joked about whether or not they would be walking or standing the next day.

Fortunately, Oliver said the corresponding recovery times following each WOD are also much shorter.

That may be an additional benefit so CrossFit competitors can get ready for the return of the Heartbreakers two-person, male and female competition around Valentine's Day.

If you're new to CrossFit or looking for a complement to improve your total body fitness in preparation for the Army Combat Fitness Test, this may be just the workout you're looking for.