191st Soldiers Cross into functional fitness

By SGT Elayseah Woodard-Hinton

jblmJOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD- A two day CrossFit level 1 certification course was offered to Soldiers of the 191st Infantry Brigade on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., at the McVeigh Sports & Fitness Center, Aug. 18-19.

The intent of the training was to provide the Soldiers with a solid understanding of the Crossfit method, which focuses on functional fitness with varied movement at a high rate of intensity, so they can become certified Crossfit trainers.

Upon completion of the course, many of the newly certified trainers will have an opportunity to immediately use their skills to implement the Crossfit techniques into their unit’s physical training programs.

“This is something different from regular pushups and sit-ups; we are learning about a wide range of exercises,” said Sgt. Maj. Galen Thomas, 191st Infantry Brigade. “We already have three people certified in our unit; after this course we will have seven,” explained the Huntington, Tenn., native.
Being a former Marine infantry officer, Todd Widman, the primary instructor for the class, was able to break down the Crossfit methodologies in a way that was applicable to a Soldier’s needs and keep the course in line with the Army’s shift to functional fitness during unit physical training.

With this shift in focus in PT, Soldiers can expect to train on areas that will not only help them to stay in shape and pass their PT tests, but also to physically train in a way that will allow them to perform well in the other physically demanding areas of their jobs.

“The body was made to do so many other physical skills,” said Susan Jackson who is a fitness specialist at McVeigh Sports & Fitness Center and is also Crossfit level 1 certified. “Crossfit does not just focus on one or two body parts; it mixes cardio, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination and agility. It is meant to be adaptable, much like a Soldier.”

Safety and proper technique, in order to prevent injuries, was a large focus of the certification class. The instructors took a lot of their time to make sure the 191st Soldiers understood that Crossfit was not meant to be a hardcore, fast charging way to get fit, but something that anyone can do to increase their level of fitness.

“I’ve seen a lot of things come and go, but [Crossfit] really emphasizes on body mechanics and proper form,” Jackson said.

To get this point across, the instructors had the Soldiers go through several drills to practice different techniques. During these drills, they made sure the Soldiers were doing the exercises in a safe and efficient manner so they would in turn practice and teach the techniques in the same way.

During one of his lectures, Widman spoke of how the Crossfit method, worked well for him, however his main goal in teaching the class goes beyond pushing a fitness method.

“I hope they are inspired to train their Soldiers to be more efficient, stronger, faster and better so they can make it home,” Widman said.