Military Fit: Real Strength, Performance, & Toughness

This is REAL weightlifting, saving someone's life
There is a group of people that make me, and most of my fellow fitness experts, look like wimpy and out of shape bums. These are the men and women of the military, especially the United States military in this case since they are the ones I am most familiar with. While I've always been considered pretty fit and athletic, these individuals blow me out of the water in nearly every category and are the ones that should be considered truly fit and strong.

What exactly do I mean by this? Well first off, most people in the fitness industry, and even many elite/professional athletes, are very specialized in their area of expertise. For example, I've been a pretty good mid-distance or distance runner in the past, but at that time I wasn't that strong. I've been very strong at times while focusing on powerlifting, but admittedly had pretty poor endurance at that time. I've been able to add a large amount of muscle mass while focusing on bodybuilding, but often at the expense of endurance or functional movement. A yoga master might be very strong, balanced, and flexible for their bodyweight but watch what happens when you hand them an 80 lb dumbbell or have them play some pickup football. A marathon runner might be able to run for hours straight at a high speed but can they deadlift twice their bodyweight or do a couple pullups? 

For the men and women of the military, they don't focus on one singular objective, especially at the expense of another area. They need to be strong, tough, and function at optimal performance in all areas, all the time! They don't care about packing on an extra 5 lbs of muscle or looking good at the beach, they are more concerned with being able to do their job, help people, and survive. Military fitness is about being strong enough to help protect themselves and others. 

Soldiers don't do these to look good for the beach
These truly tough individuals need a difficult mix of strength, power, endurance, agility, performance, and both mental and physical toughness for them to do what they do and protect the world. They need to be able to thrive in jungles, tundras, cities, desserts, and countryside in all conditions and an innumerable variety of tasks. They might have to walk for 20 miles straight, or pick up a wounded soldier on their back and sprint to safety,  or engage in hand to hand combat. They might have to do these and a hundred other things without the aid of 3 protein shakes a day and fresh fruits and veggies, things that us civilian fitness gurus take for granted. And they often have to stay in shape while on tour with makeshift weights and workout equipment (or just their bodyweight), making them the true Frugal Fitness masters. 

Sometimes I feel dumb or guilty teaching or attending "Boot Camp" type exercise classes (unless taught by ex-military, which I am not) because I feel it could almost be portrayed as insulting to the men and women of our armed forces. What I do and have the people in my class perform is usually a joke compared to what the military experiences in basic training or beyond. I certainly don't mean it to be insulting to any real military, and hope if anything just gives the people in the class the tiniest idea of what people in uniform do on a daily basis without a massage or trip to the spa afterwards. Definitely no fancy $5 protein fruit smoothies after their workouts.

While I still consider myself to be a fit individual, I don't kid myself by comparing what I do to anything close to somebody in the active military. I greatly appreciate their hard work and sacrifice to be in the best shape possible so that they can better help improve the lives of many in the world. I hope you appreciate that too by supporting them and thinking about what they go through while you are doing your own workouts.

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