Flight school leaders incorporate CrossFit to diversify PT

By Emily Brainard, Army Flier Staff

flight_schoolFORT RUCKER, Ala. — Soldiers are mixing up their workouts in anticipation of upcoming Armywide changes regarding physical training programs.

Flight school PT leaders began incorporating CrossFit-like exercises into their routines earlier this year to diversify Soldiers’ fitness experiences and better prepare them for duty, said Maj. Derek Smith, B Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment commander.

CrossFit uses a variety of strength and cardio workouts, focusing on intensity and energy exerted, instead of timed exercises, said Capt. Holly Burke, B Co., 1st Bn., 145th Avn. Regt. operations officer-in-charge.

“It shocks their bodies and keeps them doing something different,” said Capt. Justin Barnes, B Co. executive officer.

While Army Physical Fitness Tests still focus on timed runs, sit-ups and push-ups, Army officials will eventually change those standards, Barnes said. The Army’s new PT manual is currently in the drafting stage.

“The Army as a whole is looking at taking a new approach to physical readiness training as evidenced by the draft for the TC 3-22.20 ‘Army Physical Readiness Training’ manual,” he said. “Our program is moving quickly in that direction. The focus of our program goes beyond preparing for the APFT. It also focuses on preparing Soldiers for a wide variety of demands on the body in the full spectrum of operations that they will face in their (future) units.”

In the meantime, incorporating workouts similar to CrossFit into Soldiers’ daily routines correlates with higher APFT success rates recently seen among flight school students, Barnes said.

B Co.’s new routine has reduced students’ test failure rates by 90 percent, Smith noted.

The new program also enables PT leaders to provide Soldiers greater accountability during morning formations and physical training.

B Co. leaders established a computerized data base, which updates group rosters on a constant basis, so PT officers know exactly who is required to attend training and when, Barnes said. This makes managing the more than 1,000 flight school students who attend PT daily simpler and more efficient.

The changes leave noticeable management and physical improvements, according to 1st Lt. Douglas Foote, B Co. PTO officer-in-charge. The new system also helps Soldiers become better warfighters.

“With CrossFit, you’re working the entire body at one time. (The movements you perform in combat) are related to what you do in CrossFit. It’s different movements at the same time,” Foote said.

The variety also offers extra challenges and more enjoyment, said B Co.’s 1st Lt. Matthew Piccolo.

“People look forward to PT. They’re more enthusiastic about PT when it differs every day,” he said.