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Spc. Howard Alperin, Multi-National Division Baghdad
BAGHDAD – 10.20.2009
There's quite a variety of ways to engage in fitness activities on Camp Liberty. Besides Army physical training, running, weightlifting and aerobic training, Soldiers can choose from a wide variety of activities to supplement their workouts.
One other alternative gaining popularity for keeping in shape is the structured fitness video.
"We're sweating through our T-shirts like we ran five miles," exclaimed Maj. Rain Jones, an intelligence planner, with Company B, Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, after balancing and holding extended stretches. "I had never done yoga. This has been an opportunity to do things I've never done before," said the Rushville, Ind., native.
Yoga is only one phase to these session workouts. The structured fitness video program that has attracted Soldiers to the DSTB gym is comprised of a series of different training regimens.
"I'm working muscle groups that I've never worked in the past. It's total body fitness. You're trying to take yourself to the next level," said Capt. Robert Magill, the provost marshal office's long-range planner, from Killeen, Texas, assigned to Co. A, DSTB. The focus is on the body's core, but there are exercises from the neck to the toes, added Magill.
In addition to improving balance and flexibility, Soldiers taking on this new video-based workout discover new methods for muscle development.
"We're used to doing calf raises with our feet pointed forward. With this program, we also turn our feet out for 30 raises and then in for 30 raises. There are three different sides of the calf muscle," said Magill.
"It's strengthening, shaping and sculpting the whole muscle," noted Jones.
Doing similar workouts from week to week may be working the same muscle groups. A comprehensive fitness video series provides variety and 'muscle confusion', according to Magill.
"The body plateaus when you do the same exercises every day," he said. The videos help develop every kind of muscle group, instead of doing a push-up; there are 15 to 20 different kinds of push-ups to do. The program gets the person to their target heart rate while building strength and burning calories, he emphasized.
Soldiers should not expect to master the structured fitness videos on their first try. "When I first started, I was in a lot of pain, I couldn't get through one session, now, I'm able to do it," said Magill, who has been participating in the program for 30 days.
There are benefits that come with these videos that go beyond building muscle.
"It allows me to stay physically fit for the job I have to do," said Jones. "We're working long hours and this gives me the energy and the mental acuity to stay focused."
This particular video series provides detailed instruction and a person can choose to exercise with or without music. Daily exercises range from core body physique training to plyometrics, stretching, yoga, and Kenpo karate. Sessions vary in length, from 15 minutes to 90 minutes.
Magill and Jones suggest that Soldiers research video fitness programs prior to getting started and to not let the videos sit around gathering dust.
"Read independent reviews and pick what gets you excited," said Magill.
"You have to commit to it," said Jones. Look for the type of videos depending on goals and on making improvements in fitness level, continued Jones.
"At the end of the day, it's fun," said Jones. "If you don't know what the best PT is for you, try this."
The best part of the workout may be the camaraderie Soldiers feel as they grunt, groan and bend their way to achieving top-notch physical fitness. Those participating in the workouts are always looking for others to join in and become part of the motivation for excellence in body conditioning.