August 18, 2010
Two army U.S. Army platoons use CrossFit while a third uses traditional PT. When physical testing rolls around, one group sees impressive improvements.
I am a sergeant first class in the United States Army and platoon sergeant in an Aviation Task Force that consists of 30 UH-60 Blackhawk, AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook helicopters. We are stationed out of Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., but are currently deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
We received a new battalion commander prior to our deployment. Since the first day he took command, he preached to us about combat-focused physical-fitness training (PT). He came to us with kettlebells, burpees and box jumps, and we were convinced he had lost his mind. I mean we believed that his thought process was in the right spot because our normal physical-fitness regimen only taught us how to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) but would be useless to us in combat. But the hard pill for us to swallow was this: “How is swinging a weight around, jumping up on boxes and performing short but fast runs going to help us on an APFT?”
We were sure that this “combat-focused PT” was going to doom our soldiers. As I stated earlier, we understood our commander’s philosophy clearly, and it made perfect sense for preparing a soldier for combat, but as a platoon sergeant in charge of 30-plus soldiers’ careers, I did not want to abandon traditional PT styles in fear that I would soon have an enormous amount of soldiers failing the APFT.