Ah, the joys of standard military PT. We do this almost every morning. Waking up at 0530 to smell the cool and damp air, hovering around a group of men who are wondering just as you are why in God's name you're up so early, and smoking yourself senseless with nothing but high repetition bilateral exercises that won't do a thing for you if you ever happen to get to a battlefield.
This morning was almost like that, except for that last part. Why? Simple. CrossFit.
I woke up at 0525, curious as to why I wasn't more tired, which I should be after 5-hour-per-night sleep cycles for the past few weeks, but I didn't complain. I questioned throwing on my typical PT gear, and then pulled my CrossFit: Forging Elite Fitness T-shirt out of the drawer. That made my decision for me.
As I walked out of the dorm, I warmed up with some good Joint Mobility, bear crawls, Lunges, and Hindu Pushups. After I got to the dorm where the Spec Ops (short for US Air Force Special Operatotions Physical Training Team) upperclassmen were meeting, I started on some handstand practice and cranked out a few pushups against the nearest wall.
Half-bald 20-year-olds, with freshly shaven heads and brown PT shirts, slowly began trickling out of their dorms. Today was generally considered and "off" day, so only eight guys came out total, including Scott, who I talked to over the summer about running his team's training for a day or two.
After all of us formed up, we ran over to Duncan Field to get the pain we had all come for. Today was just basic instruction, though. The kipping pullup, the bar muscle-up, the one-legged squat, the one-armed pushup, and the Spetznas (one-armed, one-legged) pushup.
Most were shocked that someone would just come out to teach this on their own, but all were interested in learning new ways to "Get Some". Working with Average Joe Non-regs (or civilians not affiliated with the military at all) can sometimes get disconcerting because, despite what training knowledge you have and the fact that you know what you're talking about, most just don't have the work ethic or the internal drive to develop an outstanding (or even decent) level of fitness. These guys were none of that.
It was very informal, but still very safe. The Corps' basic leadership structure ensured that everyone would pay attention with open eyes and ears, lest they have to crank out pushups for hours on end for me, and they did. Pulling straight from several CrossFit Journals and Message Board posts, The Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline, and mostly from my own experience with these five exercises, I explained succintly and precisely what each entailed
Most kippers looked like epileptics on speed, so I took about 10 minutes trying to fix that, bringing up the fact that the hip motion was the same when throwing a punch, lifting a sandbag or human body explosively off the ground, or doing every college guy's favorite activity, what I heard from one strength coach referred to as The Midnight Move. I'll leave it at that.
A couple got a struggling muscle-up, which shocked me, since I didn't get anything resembling a muscle-up until about 2 weeks after starting them. I showed the proper transition from the pullup to the dip, and we worked on both. I also tried to execute the Matt G. style bar muscle-up, without a kip. Well, that worked about as well as me trying to turn down a good beer after a long week. As much as I wanted to, it just wasn't happening.
Holding vertical bars, pistols weren't much of a problem at all, and after showing "Zipping Up" (which I had to rename Sealing Up because of Corps games that don't make sense to anyone outside of A&M), one guy actually got a full rep! After fighting the joyful urge to play the Happy Snake Game with his intestines for learning in one session with an instructor what it took me three weeks to learn on my own, I instead genuinely congratulated him and showed him the tension techniques again to make sure he got them all safely, and carefully watched his (and everyone else's) pistol form. Then I got one of those warm, fuzzy feelings that every trainer reading this knows about and gets when someone you're training finally gets some cool goal accomplished, whatever it is.
From there, one-armed pushups were hilarious for all involved. Most guys thought they could rep them out just fine, but once I showed them proper form, and the true way to count a rep (3-point contact only, chest barely touching thumb, elbow locked into rib cage), everyone's reps mysteriously dropped. Spetsnaz pushups I could only show. I barely got one rep myself (no excuse, I just couldn't this morning), but everyone got the basics of the movement.
After all of that instruction, I knew that everyone around me was a little disappointed in their First Sergeant, Scott. They had come out for some good PT that morning, and here this random guy had come out and taken that all away. Not one to displease such a crowd, I decided to put them through a light Cindy (10 minutes of as many rounds of 5 pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats), I would have made it the full one, but 1) it was their first time, and I didn't even do a full Cindy my first time and 2) We only had about 15 minutes before we needed to eat.
I walked around and corrected both kipping pullup and squat form, but still managed 07 rounds in 10 minutes. Not bad; not great. Our "top performer" got 9, which I thought was outstanding for his first time. The other scores ranged from 5-8.
Of course I moved slowly on all of these exercises, had a Q&A session afterwards, and I'll go out again either next week or in two weeks to review everything I taught them. Five exercises was quite a lot to cover in one session, but they got them down so fast, with strength, instead of form except in the kipping pullup case, being the only major setback. All in all, fun.
Like most college guys nowadays, we cracked several jokes about girls, beer, our random leadership positions, and what we were doing Thursday/Friday/Saturday night. Unlike most college guys, though, they actually paid attention to what I had to say, and took it all in. My speeches about "Yes, tactical operators really do need to learn this to know how to climb a wall or balance on one leg" did not fall onto deaf ears as they usually do. Several asked questions about all of the exercises, and during chow, the rest asked more.
Next time I come out there will be a few more CrossFit girls for them to try out, as well as review of these five, and the basics of the dumbbell and kettlebell Swing, but that was enough for today. We all had our fill this morning, and still had classes, other Corps stuff, and of course girls, to worry about.
As we walked back to the dorms after morning chow, and hearing the rest of the Corps form up for formation and march in to Duncan Dining Center, I looked out to the sun, smiled realized what a beautiful campus we have, and what a great day it was going to be. I immediately crawled back into bed.
Who the heck gets up at 5:30 in the morning for all this? Crazy kids...
Very cool. Don't you hate those people who do things on the first day that it took you weeks to get the hang of?
That's awesome. I really wish someone with that level of knowledge could run something here at Ft. Benning. I'm only down here for a short while. But, it would be really nice to get some real critiques on my form and I know I could gain some good knowledge, not to mention it would probably increase the number of CrossFitters here.
Yes, I almost do. Then again, I didn't have anyone show me this stuff before I was able to get it, and had to learn a lot on my own before I could have someone critique my form on a lot of things, so my learning curve was a lot harder to climb than theirs. Regardless, it's all good.
I would if I could, honestly. Eventually, I would like to go out to different firehouses, police academies, and military bases to show them this kind of stuff. Until then, I'd also warn you that there are probably a lot better guys on this board who could do this in place of me. I'm not in the "upper tier" of CrossFitters by any stretch of the imagination on any level of fitness, nor am I certified through any organization to do this.
I'm just a junior in college who reads a lot and works out a little.
way to go! My hat's off to you! You're a great example of someone who walks what he talks. Great Post!
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