CrossFit competition gives 1/41 total fitness perspective workout

By Spc. Emily Knitter, 1HBCT

FORT STEWART, Ga. – The dust flies off the ground as a Hemmitt tire slams against the dirt. Sweat drips onto the black rubber as the pair of Soldiers kneel down toward the tire again. Camouflaged ruck sacks are in the air like winning trophies as men and women in filthy physical training uniforms struggled to hold them overhead, no trace in their faces they feel the ruck sacks are any sort of reward. A whistle blows and with a chaotic swirl of sweat, dirt, and deep struggling breathing, the teams of ten rotate around the open field to their next stations.

As the sun rises from behind the motor pools across the street, the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, continue their 40-minute workout, Aug. 19. The morning was designed to show the battalion an alternative way of working out beside the standa”We focus a lot on running, we focus a lot on [physical readiness training], but this is a way to mix it up a little bit, work on other parts of the body and getting a total fitness perspective instead of just working on power or cardio,” explained 1st Bn., 41st FA commander Lt. Col. Thomas Hawn, a native of Athens, Ga. “So we broke all the units into ten-man teams and then ran them through a series of ten stations where they worked on their core, upper body strength, speed, agility, and really kept a good intense workout for 40 minutes.”

The workout was pulled from a program called CrossFit.
“I have a captain in my operations shop who is actually a CrossFit instructor, and I asked him to put it together about a month ago,” said Lt. Col. Hawn. “I just said, ‘Hey, what can you do to bring the whole battalion together, make it exciting, make it fun, make it competitive.”
The captain was Kha Nguyen, the assistant operations officer for 1st Bn., 41st FA, and a native of Keegan, Ohio.

“I started doing CrossFit at the staff level, and a few times with a platoon, and they liked it, so we wanted to see if we could do it at the battalion level,” Nguyen explained. “I think the best thing about CrossFit is it really challenges you. People want to say that [physical training] can de-motivate you, but I think if you give challenging PT and you give people a way to compete against each other, which is what CrossFit is about, people really love it.”

Although at the end of the workout there were Soldiers lying on the ground, too exhausted to do anything else, the general consensus was everyone had a great time.

“It’s not the same old stuff we do every day,” said Spc. Geoffrey Bemiester, a wheeled mechanic with Co. G, 1st Bn., 41st FA, and a native of St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada. “It was a fun change from the usual five-mile run every morning or muscle failure. Even though it was hard, it was something to work for. It was a competition, and I think everyone works a little bit harder when it’s a competition. We should do more of it.”

That the Soldiers enjoyed the workout was Lt. Col. Hawn’s biggest goal.

“The most rewarding part for me was seeing the Soldiers getting involved, getting the motivation up, then seeing the response after it was all over,” he said. “I think all the Soldiers had a good time, everybody was really motivated, and everyone got a good workout and put a lot into it.”

At the end of the morning, Lt. Col. Hawn stood in front of the battalion standing in formation, still breathing hard and soaked with sweat. But when he asked which team thought they were the winners, the roar of battle cries echoed through the motor pools nearby, letting the battalion know that on this particular morning, everyone won.