Cross Fit to Fight: For 3-10 GSAB, new gym means new ways to work out

By Staff Sgt. Stephanie van Geete

speicherCONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq – The Soldiers of 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade have a new facility to use while trying to stay fit on deployment. The unit’s new clamshell gym officially opened its doors for the first time July 11, giving the Phoenix battalion a local, high-speed fitness center outfitted with the most up-to-date workout equipment.

Lt. Col. Joseph Orrechio, 3-10 GSAB commander, said having a physical fitness facility within the unit’s footprint is essential to improving the battalion’s fitness and morale. Before this gym was created, Soldiers had to travel long distances to work out, or else make do with lean-to facilities and poor equipment.

“Existing fitness facilities on COB Speicher are really out of reach for our Soldiers,” Orecchio explained. “The main gym is 2.8 miles away, and the Brigade gym is also 2.8 miles away. We needed a facility that enabled our Soldiers to remain close to their life support and work areas, especially for our MEDEVAC crews who must remain on a short string.”

“The lack of convenient and central work-out facilities really equated to fewer Soldiers engaged in performing routine physical training,” he added. “There were a few hodge-podge, makeshift gyms created out of necessity by the companies, but for the most part they were unsafe and had sub-standard equipment.”
Orrechio was determined to change that, even if it took half the deployment to make it happen.

“Quite frankly, two months after we got here we had the equipment list broken out of all the things we needed, but it took a while to get that request pushed through,” he explained. “Then we were told ‘you can have the equipment you ordered, which will come in late August, or you can receive equipment a little earlier but it will be less quality.’ Well, we were not about that. We had an eye toward the future and we know our Soldiers deserve better quality equipment than what was going to be given to us.”

The wait paid off, and the new gym is now stocked with high quality Life Fitness and Hammer Strength equipment. But what really makes the 3-10 GSAB gym unique is the non-standard equipment it offers – the facility is outfitted with structures and equipment specifically designed to be used with the Cross Fit exercise program.

“Cross Fit is a strength and conditioning system based on constantly varied…functional movements executed at high intensity,” Orecchio explained. “Cross Fit is uniquely suited for the military and law enforcement communities. This system prepares you to do the unknowing, it prepares you for combat. It is not focused on athletics itself, but on enhancing your ability to perform and master functional movement: pushing, pulling, running and jumping, etc… – all the things you’d be called to do in combat.”

To better facilitate working out with the Cross Fit program, Orecchio commissioned several structures to be built for the new gym, including a modular, moveable pull-up cage and a tower offering a vertical rope climb, a supported rope climb, heavy bags, gymnastic rings and walls for handstands and medicine ball workouts.

“The beautiful part of this gym is that there is something for everybody there; you can perform almost any workout imaginable,” Orecchio said.
Another point of pride for the unit is that, unlike other facilities on COB Speicher, this gym was built, operated and maintained for Soldiers, by Soldiers.

“There are no outside influences, no other people like MWR telling us ‘I don’t like this,’” said Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Kilgo, noncommissioned officer in charge of the facility. “We – the Soldiers who work here – pretty much put everything together. The Soldiers take care of the towels, the Soldiers take care of cleaning the facility, the Soldiers take care of the maintenance of the equipment and the Soldiers use it. We don’t have any outside help, so there is a great sense of pride.”

Orecchio agreed, saying, “It’s ours, something we put our heart and soul into that is central to our footprint, and it brings our family, our team, together.”

The new facility has been a hit, not only with 3-10 troops but also with other Soldiers and civilians throughout the COB who want to take advantage of the variety of equipment the gym offers.

“Everyone is talking about it,” Kilgo said. “When we first put it together, it was really slow. There would only be about 10 people a day, but now we get over 100 people a day, which is a big number…and I’m pretty sure it’s going to grow as word of mouth gets around.”