By Cpl. William Smith (4th ID)March 7, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- A Soldier lifts his shirt up to put on the heart rate monitor, steps on the treadmill, puts on the VO2 Max mask and starts to walk, eventually getting to a slow run to reach 85 percent of his maximum heart rate.
Capt. Mike Meyers did this to see if he is the fittest Soldier on Fort Carson, during the Army's first VO2 Max Competition, March 4-6, at Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center.
VO2 max is the maximum capacity of an individual's body to transport and use oxygen during incremental exercise, which reflects the physical fitness of the individual. The competition measures a Soldier's fitness through the use of Fitmate Pro, a machine able to measure oxygen consumption.
The post-wide competition was developed by Fort Carson's Army Wellness Center to find Fort Carson's fittest Soldier, who will then put their numbers up against other installations once they officially set up their competitions.
"The goal of this competition is to raise awareness of the services we provide, and how people can use our wellness center as a tool to increase their cardio-respiratory fitness," said Tony Heinz, director, Army Wellness Center.
The competition gave Soldiers and leaders a chance not only to compete against others, but also to gain an idea of how to improve their cardio respiratory fitness.
"There are no losers in this competition. They get to compete to see who is the fittest, but they also get the information of how to train to improve their VO2," said Krys Bankard, health promotion technician, AWC.
Depending on the results that an individual receives from the VO2 testing, there are recommendations of how much cardio exercise that they should do per week, as well as what heart rate zone and the length of each session, Heinz added.
"Many professional sports teams like the Denver Nuggets use this kind of testing on their athletes to improve their fitness levels. This kind of testing is now available to Soldiers for free."
Meyers, assistant operations, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and Capt. Tracy Wrinkle, officer in charge, patient administration division, 1st Detachment, 7215th Medical Support Unit, Medical Evaluation Board Remote Operation Center, were the fittest Soldiers, for the male and female categories, on Fort Carson.
"Fitness is a way of life," Wrinkle said. "The better you feel, the better quality of life you are going to have, the better you can lead your Soldiers."
Meyers said he enjoyed being able see where he stood against his fellow Soldiers.
"My favorite part of the competition was the competition itself," said Meyers. "Knowing where I rank compared to everyone else. Never having done it before; where do I stand when the results come down?"
The winners gave some advice on physical fitness.
"The advice I would give is to know your limits," Meyers said. "Know whether those limits are mental or physical, and then learn to overcome them."
Wrinkle said fitness is an important part of life, and the VO2 Max test helps show where a person really stands in that regard.
"Fitness is a continuous thing you have to keep doing," Wrinkle said. "If you want to do it you will make it part of your lifestyle and routine."
The winners said the VO2 testing is an important tool that all Soldiers can use to help find what they can do to improve themselves.
"Even if you're not coming in for the competition, come in for the testing to see where you fall," Meyers said. "The initial test we did measured your flexibility, grip and power, everything; it is a great gauge period to see where you measure across the board."
The testing is free for all Soldiers and spouses, Retirees, and DOD civilians. For those that wish to find out more of the services that the Army Wellness Center provides, which include: health assessment review, tobacco education, physical fitness, stress management, health nutrition, and general wellness education, call: (719) 526-3887.