By Nathan Van Schaik (USAG Schweinfurt)February 24, 2011
SCHWEINFURT, Germany-The American Soldier of the future will be more aerobically and anaerobically fit to meet the demands of combat-that is, if Soldiers stationed here have anything to do with it.
Charlie Troop from the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment stationed in Schweinfurt kick-started a new pilot fitness program Feb. 16 at Finney gym that could revolutionize the training protocol associated with Soldier fitness.
Drawing from the insights of NCAA Division I college football fitness and coupled with conditioning that employs functional movements, the Mission Essential Fitness program aims to build the modern-day Soldier into a "tactical athlete," according to its developer, Doug Briggs, Fort Bliss Director of Human Performance.
U.S. Army Europe and Installation Management Command Europe teamed up to conduct the MEF pilot program which will run through June 1 in Schweinfurt.
On Wednesday, day one, the Soldiers recorded vital information that will be tracked to monitor the overall success of the program. Things like blood pressure, body fat index, scores on fitness and agility tests, as well as their susceptibility to injury over the course of the coming months will all be scrutinized by a team of experts.
Afterwards, they laced up their sneakers, donned PT gear and readied for instruction. Enter Ken Taylor, a retired Navy SEAL, fitness guru and the brain trust behind one of the pillars of the MEF program, simply known around fitness circles as TRX.
"TRX is training redefined," said Taylor. "It's mission-specific, functional training that can be done anywhere so the Soldier can increase operational capability."
Otherwise known as suspension training, TRX utilizes a strap suspended from an anchor point. Athletes use the strap to perform grueling exercises in a variety of positions. For a Soldier on the go, the one pound easily accessible strap can be jimmied to a door, a make-shift wall or a tank. It makes the gymnasium obsolete.
"TRX is an integral part of the MEF training," said Angela Flowers, the IMCOM-E fitness program manager.
"It lends itself to building the whole tactical Soldier by adding strength, agility and flexibility."
Taylor spent hours teaching Troopers with their straps in the art of atomic push-ups, single-leg squats, planks and other high-octane TRX exercises.
Asked why his troop was chosen over the hundreds of others to participate in the MEF training, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Pine, the team leader for the 1-91 C Troop, said it was because of their experiences in the most rigorous terrains during their deployment to Afghanistan last year.
"If we can help the Army create a more combat-ready program, this will help Soldiers get fit for deployment," Pine said.