CrossFit has become somewhat of a phenomenon in the past several years. CrossFit gyms are popping up everywhere and people from all kinds of fitness backgrounds have been adopting the philosophy for themselves.
“Overall, the aim of CrossFit is to forge a broad, general and inclusive fitness supported by measurable, observable and repeatable results. The program prepares trainees for any physical contingency—not only for the unknown but for the unknowable, too. Our specialty is not specializing.”- CrossFit.com
Given this idea that CrossFit has so thoroughly embraced, to be ready for the unknown and the unknowable, it’s no wonder that many of our nation’s soldiers have adopted it as their own fitness regimen. Take Maj. Lisa Jaster, one of three women to ever graduate from Army Ranger school, who told the CrossFit Journal that the mental aspect of Crossfit workouts were a huge help to her in getting through Ranger school. The Rangers are the Army’s premier direct-action raid force and the school has a 45% graduation rate. It’s not easy, and it requires the soldier to overcome extreme physical and mental barriers to pass.
A Soldier’s Perspective
I got the chance to ask an Army Officer and avid CrossFitter why he thinks CrossFit is so valuable, specifically to our nation’s soldiers.
Ryan Easterling is an Army officer that has recently returned from a one year deployment overseas. He’s been doing CrossFit for 6 years and it all started because of a little competitive spirit. He was in his sophomore year and, being in ROTC, was doing the mandatory PT (Physical Training) along with the rest of his classmates. But that wasn’t enough. His classmates were starting to pull away, and he needed to amp up his workout to catch up. So he started going to the gym with his roommate, who was doing CrossFit at the time. They would look up the WOD (Workout of the Day) and then head to the gym. Before, Ryan wasn’t really into fitness. He did it because it was a necessity, but he didn’t really enjoy working out.
But CrossFit was just the change he needed. With time, he really got into it. “The idea of being generally ready across a broad spectrum, to be able to accomplish a wide variety of tasks in life is the core concept in CrossFit that I really value.” And this idea is at the core of the U.S. Army’s mission, “to fight and win our Nation’s wars by providing prompt, sustained land dominance across the full range of military operations and spectrum of conflict in support of combatant commanders.”
CrossFit Develops Mental Toughness
The idea that CrossFit prepares your entire body while also developing your mental resilience is why Ryan has kept at it these last 6 years, and why he feels it is so valuable to his fellow soldiers. “One of the things that I like about the CrossFit idea is that it can really help build mental toughness. Whatever you’re doing, you’re pushing yourself past what you would normally do.” This is something a soldier deals with every day in the field. You never know what will be asked of you. He says, “the demand of combat is going to be varied. You might spend hours going from cover to cover or you might have to pick up your buddy and drag him back to the Humvee if he’s down.” You never know know what sort of physical demand you will meet in the field, which is why Crossfit’s focus on general fitness is so valuable to a soldier.
So for a soldier, CrossFit fulfills core needs. To be ready for the unknowable. To improve the mind’s resiliency. To be able to meet any situation with physical and mental readiness. “Crossfit prepares someone for anything that’s coming at them.” That’s why Ryan, and our soldiers, love CrossFit.