Friday, April 10, 2009

U.S. Soldiers In Iraq Make DIY Gym For Quick Workouts

“When soldiers stationed near Habur Gate, Iraq, had trouble finding time to visit their morale, Welfare and Sport (MWR) fitness studio at the base, they decided that a new gym in an empty room their company for fast workouts. Keeping fit is important to the soldiers in Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 146 Field Artillery, Washington Army National Guard, after 18 Combat Support Battalion sustainability, about a third of them are on 24 / 7 with a 40-minute mission time, says the 1st sgt. Scott Catlett, in Vancouver, WA, which helped spearhead the new gym project. Maintenance of exercise equipment can be a challenge, in the Iraqi terrain, he says, especially cardiovascular machines. ‘Cardio can be a bit of a problem,’ Catlett writes in an e-mail from Iraq. ‘Of course, we run and we sprint outside all the time, but we do have sand storms almost every week this time of year. I would love to have a couple of rowers and exercise bikes for the dusty days.’ Since dust and dirt ‘play havoc’ with a treadmill in the larger main gym, fitness studio and next to one of the main dirt road to the base, said Catlett treadmills could be problematic, especially in their situation. Catlett formerly worked as a civilian law enforcement officer and was trained in police and military fitness programming. Besides the design workouts that are not fitness equipment, Catlett and his company developed unique home-made fitness equipment. ‘Everything we have in the gym we have begged, borrowed or had it made on the base,”’Catlett says. ‘Some items, like the kettlebells, we pitched in money and bought ourselves. The pull-up bars, dip station and squat rack were all made here on the base by our own welders.’ Catlett says the soldiers lift weights for strength training with a series of Olympic Lifts, combined with pull-ups, push ups, dips, jumps, balance and core exercises. The company also develops some specialties, such as medicine balls DIY from old footballs and basketballs, which cut open and filled with gravel. ‘Sand would have been used, but it’s hard to come by. Who would have known in Iraq?’ Catlett says. Catlett also strength, strength endurance, strength, endurance and interval training weight training for the soldiers on the basis of CrossFit and Gym Jones Workout 300 models. For cardiovascular exercise, Catlett instructed the soldiers in Tabata interval training, the 20 seconds of maximum intensity exercise, followed by 10 seconds of rest repeated six to eight times. Most of the workouts are timed and the results are used to measure performance and progress. Also the amount of weight lifted and the number of employees has a soldier. Many of the soldiers in the program have a lot of weight, Catlett says. The training prepares them not only for the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT), but it is also about better soldiers. ‘The new gym and the workouts have started an incredible fitness craze in my unit,’ Catlett says. ‘And soldiers that have never passed an APFT since arriving at Bravo are passing it now with great scores. I tell the soldiers [that] the purpose of our training is not to help you pass the APFT; it is to make you more proficient at your chosen profession—soldiering. Passing the APFT with a good score is just a bi-product.’”

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