The 207th Military Intelligence Brigade held its first iteration of “Lightning Fitness Initiative Training (L-FIT)”, a program that focuses on holistic health and fitness.
With the implementation of the new Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) just around the corner, leaders across the Army are looking for ways to modernize the way in which their soldiers train.
In the early months of 2022, Chief Warrant Officer Jason Richards pitched the idea of a voluntary training program with a focus on holistic health and fitness to senior leaders. Once the idea was approved, Richards gathered his cadre, Capt. Devan Icsman, Staff Sgt. Amanda Moreno and Caleb Jacobs, and created an in-depth two-month training program.
“Normal physical readiness training is primarily focused on only one-of-five pillars of holistic health and fitness,” said Richards. “And I wanted to change that for my Soldiers and give them an advantage.”
Week one of training focused on establishing a baseline for each Soldier through six different assessments. Once a baseline was established, each Soldier was able to create a training plan tailored towards themselves with the help of Jacobs, a certified personal trainer. This gave Soldiers participating in L-FIT a chance to track and monitor their own personal growth and achievements.
Throughout the eight-week course, Soldiers were assessed in six different categories: upper-body strength, lower-body strength, speed, agility, anaerobic capacity, and ACFT performance. Soldiers who volunteered also had the opportunity to attend classes on yoga, flexibility, foam rolling, muscle tension release, and partner assisted stretching.
As the course neared its end, Richards and his team sat down to analyze assessments and found a dramatic increase in Soldiers physical performance. On average, Soldiers who participated in L-FIT saw a 35-second reduction in their one-mile run time, a 30-pound increase in their deadlift, a 20-pound increase in the over-head press, and an overall average of a 40-point increase in ACFT scores. Two Soldiers saw a significant increase to their ACFT score, adding 68 and 69 points each.
“To see a group of Soldiers who all work in different units, perform different jobs, and have different levels of fitness all come together and form a team was beyond remarkable,” said Richards. “Watching them grow with one another, push each other, and form friendships was exactly what we wanted in this program.”
The next iteration of L-FIT will begin in September of this year. Due to the margin of success, this program has a strong likelihood of becoming a tradition for the Lightning Brigade. Graduates have now seen and experienced not only the physical benefits of L-FIT, but the mental benefits as well, setting into motion a domino effect within the formation.
Programs like L-FIT create a paradigm shift in Soldiers thinking and their relationship with fitness. Holistic health and fitness is a multi-dimensional practice that can benefit Soldiers in nearly every aspect of their life.
Sgt. Monica Figueroa, an L-FIT graduate said, “This program not only challenges you physically, but mentally. L-FIT changes the way you look at your health, it’s not only running and lifting, but recovery, nutrition, and even spirituality.”
In today’s operational environment, it is of the utmost importance that the Army and its leaders ensure that their Soldiers are healthy and are able to operate in stressful conditions. The modernization of our Army depends on the minds of our troops, and that is what this program is intended to do.
A graduation ceremony was held for L-FIT participants who completed the 8-week training program at the Hall of Heroes, Vicenza, Italy, 10 June. Soldiers with the highest ACFT scores, along with Soldiers who showed the most improvement, were recognized with Army Achievement Medals for their accomplishment. As the ceremony came to a close, Moreno reminded the graduates of the most important achievement.
“We came here to train and make our bodies stronger,” said Moreno. “But we also came to train and make our minds stronger, and that’s what we did.”
The 207th Military Intelligence Brigade Theater conducts intelligence analysis, collection, and exploitation in support of Southern European Task Force-Africa (SETAF- AF) and U.S. Africa Command (USAFRICOM) in order to set the intelligence architecture for the theater, disrupt trans-national and trans-regional threats and promote regional stability in Africa while building and maintaining intelligence readiness.