Achieving excellence through CrossFit

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Colin Cates
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
For some gym-goers, a typical workout might include a warm-up walk on the treadmill followed by a round on the elliptical and capped off by time in the free-weights area. But, if you've ever walked by the "box" at the Domenici Fitness and Sports Center, you've probably seen people doing handstand pushups, performing Olympic-style lifts, and throwing a big ball at the wall.

Those people aren't crazy; they're CrossFitters, said Maj. Gabe Avilla, 49th Communications Squadron commander and certified CrossFit instructor.

"CrossFit's approach to fitness is to improve an athlete's capacity to excel within 10 general physical skills - cardiovascular/respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy," he said.

CrossFit Holloman, which has been designated as a non-profit military affiliate since November 2012, offers free fitness classes throughout the week that both introduce new athletes to CrossFit and challenge experienced athletes to continue training within a certified CrossFit program.

"Workouts of the Day, or WODs, are programmed one week at a time," Avilla said. "WODs are designed to meet the CrossFit definition of constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements performed in broad/varied time domains. Through training gained at my CrossFit Level 1 Certification course and practical experience as a CrossFitter since 2009, I am able to construct WODs that are both challenging and scalable to any athlete's fitness level. I also have to take into consideration the limited equipment we have available and to keep the WOD on schedule within an hour, because I have unit PT immediately following."

Although most workouts are less than an hour long, the effects can be long lasting, said Senior Airman Joshua Buras, 49th CS ground radar maintenance technician.

"I go to three classes a week and I work out with my squadron as the PTL and doing all that has really worked well for me," he said. "I was able to score my best PT score after starting CrossFit with a 95 percent. The biggest improvement I have made is my endurance, because before I felt sluggish and now I feel very healthy and fast. I feel anybody can benefit from CrossFit and each person can work as hard as they can at their level to get the results they want."

Airmen are able to reach their highest potential through CrossFit because of its philosophy, Avilla said.

"We do not advocate being a specialist in a small number of skills, but consistently working all of these areas for our athletes," he said. "For example, being a distance runner who can't squat their body weight properly or a power lifter who can't run a 5K without stopping is not considered well-rounded. Through consistent training, CrossFit Holloman athletes will be able to perform in the 'sport of fitness,' which is being able to meet and excel at any physical challenge presented to them. As Airmen, this also translates to their fitness demands required when we deploy down range, because you never know when you have to carry a wingman, load a plane, run a few miles, sprint, or climb over a wall."

Perhaps the biggest benefit Airmen receive from CrossFit is not just fitness, Avilla said.

"The other side of CrossFit, which many including myself think is the more important part, is our focus on nutrition first," Avilla said. "Once nutrition is dialed in, athletes are surprised how the lifestyle change translates to their fitness abilities. I would argue our approach to a fitness-based lifestyle, when conducted by trained and experienced personnel, would improve the overall readiness and health state of the Air Force compared to the traditional Air Force fitness program."

Overall, CrossFit can benefit every Team Holloman Airman, said Avilla.

"Our physical demands during operations, not necessarily what we are tested on, can far exceed anything a traditional fitness program can prepare you for, so that's where CrossFit comes in," he said. "Our classes are growing in size because athletes enjoy the sense of community and how coaches are able to properly scale WODs to meet any fitness abilities. We are thankful for the 49th Force Support Squadron in partnering with us to bring our unique brand of fitness to the Holloman community."