As Soldiers and Army Civilians adjust to distributed operations during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s easy to let physical fitness take a back seat.
Enter Master Sgt. Aaron Haynes, assigned to the Records Screening and Oversight (RSO) office of the U.S. Army Inspector General Agency (USAIGA).
When the pandemic forced a shelter-in-place and telework policy starting in mid-March, Haynes – who recently certified as a personal trainer – saw a need and quickly took the initiative. In a matter of days, he adapted his twice-monthly, in-person classes to workout programs posted on the agency’s intranet site, making them available for his colleagues to see.
“Once COVID-19 happened and we transitioned to telework, I had the idea to open a page on the (agency’s) intranet so I could start to post three workouts a week,” he said.
Haynes developed a workout regimen designed to keep agency employees in peak shape without the benefit of a gymnasium or the equipment used in the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT).
“These are all body weight workouts with some very limited modifications with broom handles and items like that,” Haynes said.
Nate Prezzy, the RSO chief, has taken full advantage of Haynes’s program.
“It’s a great at-home workout plan that’s simple and easy to follow with exercises that help me avoid injury with maximum results,” Prezzy said. “It has allowed me to maintain my upper body strength while reducing my body weight.”
Haynes, a native of Columbus, Ohio, issues workouts for Monday, Wednesday and Friday each week.
Wednesday is the high-intensity day. A recent workout included a 40-minute circuit consisting of hand release push-ups, squat jumps, burpees and jump lunges.
Maj. French Pope, the aide-de-camp to Army Inspector General Lt. Gen. Leslie C. Smith, recently ran 4 miles, with 15 burpees after each mile.
“(Master Sgt.) Haynes’ workout was very challenging and the fact that you can do the workouts with no gym equipment makes it easy to follow the program,” Pope said.
Pope said Haynes’s regimen is keeping him focused on passing the ACFT when it is re-introduced after the coronavirus response. “Every workout I have done in the program for strength and cardio have helped me to achieve my personal physical fitness goals,” he said.
Lt. Col. Jamekela Burns, also with the RSO, noted an improvement in her fitness since working from home. “When I first started the program a month ago I was challenged with completing sets. Now I am able to complete the recommended sets and reps. My next goal is to decrease the amount of time it takes to complete one full set.”
Heavy workouts aren’t the only component of the USAIGA fitness program.
Dorie Chassin, a Civilian editor with the Analysis and Inspection Follow-Up division, also teaches vinyasa-flow yoga. Since the coronavirus crisis began, she’s moved her in-person classes to video conferencing and digital presentations.
Since rejoining the agency in April after a one-year absence, she’s offered yoga instruction to her colleagues, and is working with Haynes to share yoga sessions on the intranet site.
“I first came to yoga after years of running left my body and spirit broken. It helped me cope with all of life’s anxiety, and helped me appreciate the connection between mind, body, and spirit,” Chassin said. “I wanted to give back to this practice and help others find this connection, so I became a certified yoga teacher in 2019.”
Chassin said yoga promotes the connection between mind, body and spirit, and improves flexibility and core strength.
Stress reduction is an important aspect of the practice. “Practicing yoga releases more GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the brain’s thalamus, which reduces anxiety/stress and focuses the mind, while increasing levels of happiness,” Chassin said.
She also noted yoga complements the high-intensity workouts led by Haynes. “Incorporating a yoga practice into your exercise routine can help balance some of the exercises (running, burpees, etc.) that over time can lead to wear and tear of the body.”
Sample workouts and vinyasa yoga
Monday Work Out Plan.pdf [PDF - 8.1 KB]
Friday Work Out Plan.pdf [PDF - 8.3 KB]
45-minute Vinyasa Flow_v1.pdf [PDF - 745.6 KB]
For more information on the Army Combat Fitness Test