Monday, March 10, 2014
Paratroopers thrive on high intensity. They are trained to drop from 500 feet out of a plane into combat zones to take out the enemy, after all. But make them do burpees, slam a 30-pound ball, row 500 meters and push-press 200 pounds 10 times, and they just might beg for mercy.
“I know we're going to be sore tomorrow,” said Capt. Scott King while catching his breath. “But that was a great workout.”
King and 60 men from the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division are in Charleston this week studying strategic decisions from past military battles. The 6 a.m. stop at CrossFit Frequency in Mount Pleasant Wednesday was as much for the group's own physical regimen as for its leadership training.
“A lot of the things we do in the field involve sitting for a while and then being highly active,” said Capt. Rory Blake. “And there are a lot of things thrown at us that you can't predict or plan. CrossFit helps build up the metabolic conditioning so you can complete the tasks you have to in those situations.”
Physical preparation is an important component for any battalion to successfully implement a strategic battle plan, but daily workouts can get boring really quick. That's why Rory put CrossFit Frequency on the scheduled tour this week. “Physical training is a daily requirement for all soldiers, so we are always trying to find new and innovative ways to physically and mentally challenge ourselves,” he said. King noted that getting out of their regular running/push-up/pull-up routine was a nice change of pace. “This was good for us, something we can take back and incorporate,” said the chaplain. “This was a great way to mix it up, challenge ourselves.”
Second Lt. Joey Arias was pumped up the entire workout but admitted it was a little harder than he expected. “This was pretty intense,” Arias said of the circuit-like structure where the men were divided into five different exercise groups and rotated every 10 minutes. “I think my favorite were the lifts and having the coaches help us really get after it. It was amazing, a great experience.”
CrossFit Frequency co-owners Jeremy Feldman and Donovan Rider are both very familiar with the military lifestyle and were eager to host the soldiers when Blake gave them a call last week. “Military guys don't mess around when they work out,” said Rider, who also competed in the Olympic trials for Taekwondo and co-owns Charleston Taekwondo with Feldman. “It was a great time.”
Feldman noted that the goal was to keep the workout simple but high energy. “It was awesome having these guys in here to challenge them but also have some fun,” said Feldman, whose father served in the U.S. Air Force. “Part of the attraction to CrossFit is the mental challenge involved in getting through the workout. It's actually a perfect fit for military training.”
And at least for the 82nd Airborne, it certainly seems to be. “This is really a team workout, and as paratroopers working together as a team, it builds cohesion and helps us motivate each other,” King said, “and so it definitely plays a role in what we do every day.”