CrossFit Program on Camp Slayer

By Staff Sgt. Dan Yarnall

slayerBAGHDAD, Iraq – Chief Warrant Officer Richard Lawrence holds himself in an upside-down L position. His hands, planted firmly on the ground, support the majority of his weight. He is bent at a ninety-degree angle at the waist, balancing his feet on two tractor tires. He slowly lowers his head to the ground and pushes himself up as he demonstrates how to do an inverted push-up. This is one of the many exercises performed during a CrossFit training program led by Lawrence, the officer in charge of intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, Company B, Task Force Phantom, Special Troops Battalion, United States Forces-Iraq.¬†CrossFit is a physical fitness training program that incorporates naturally-occurring movements exercised at a high intensity. It is designed to enhance movements such as throwing, lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing and running, which greatly enhances combat readiness. “In CrossFit you do a lot of multi-joint movements. It greatly improves one’s anaerobic functionality,” Lawrence said. CrossFit training has grown in popularity recently with the military because of the program’s ability to improve overall fitness and readiness of service members, not just prepare them for the physical fitness test, said Navy Lt. Ronald Matthews from Gig Harbor Wash with Camp Slayer Joint Information Operations Center. “For me it’s definitely more interesting. I find that just normal unit PT is very boring and monotonous,” he said. “This is more creative and it really challenges you. It challenges your body in ways that normal unit PT never would.” While the variety of exercises and intensity of the workouts can intimidate some people from starting a CrossFit program, Lawrence said the program can be started no matter what fitness level a person is at. One of the highlights for him is seeing people improve their fitness through the program. “We get all kinds of people out here, people that can hardly do anything at first. But it’s great seeing them stick with it and make improvements,” he said. “Eventually they are out there doing the full workouts with everybody else.” Lawrence said his personal fitness has really improved since he began cross fit training upon arriving in here in November 2009. “I see improvements in my run already, push-ups, pull-ups, all that stuff has gone up phenomenally,” he said. Other service members who regularly attend the training sessions said they are benefitting from the CrossFit program and from exercising in a group setting, which pushes them to achieve their goals. “My overall fitness has improved through this program,” said 1st Lt. Justin Bramblett from Powel, Ala., with Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Task Force Troy, Explosive Ordnance Disposal. “Keeping high intensity for short periods of time has significantly built up my cardio.” “You work a twelve to fourteen-hour day, you get out of the office, come down here and hang out with the group,” said Matthews. “We push each other to do our very best; it’s very much a team-building type of atmosphere,” Matthews said. Camp Slayer CrossFit training sessions are held Monday through Wednesday, Friday and Saturday behind Building 21-B. The training starts at 5 p.m. Training sessions vary from 15 minutes to one hour.