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Getting fit
Participants of the "Combat Fit" workout group exercise outside the Pitsenbarger Fitness Center May 24, 2012. The "Combat Fit" program is similar to the popular "Cross-Fit" workout program and has helped improved PT scores as well as basic fitness for participants. (U.S. Air Force photo/2Lt Jerred Moon)
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Getting fit "Combat" style

Posted 5/30/2012   Updated 5/30/2012 Email story   Print story


by Dan Hawkins
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs Office

5/30/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- When most people think about getting fit, they probably think of putting in a two-mile run or knocking out some push-ups or sit-ups in the same old boring routine.

With the base's "Combat Fit" physical fitness program, getting in shape takes on a whole new persona.

The program runs from 6:15 a.m. -  8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. every day of the week except Wednesday at the Pitsenbarger Fitness Center and is open to everyone.

Modeled after the popular  "Cross Fit" workout program, the goal of "Combat Fit" is essentially the same as its counterpart: prepare people for the unknown by making permanent changes to the lifestyle of the participants.

Brent Ragsdale, health fitness specialist and "Combat Fit" program manager for the 82nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron, stressed the program was quite different than standard workout programs for a reason.

"People deploy and they don't know what they are going to be doing," he said. "We want to put people in the best possible position to be successful, no matter what the environment is. Some people want to improve their PT scores dramatically, while others are just happy they can do a full day of landscaping out in their yards."

"Combat Fit" at Sheppard evolved from a workout group called the "Sheppard Shuffle". Ragsdale campaigned for and received money and equipment for the program back in April of 2010. Attendance is steady with a core group of 50-75 people per day, though it peaked for a time last year at over 100 people per day.

The program has other benefits as well, ones you may not always see.

"A lot of people start this program with knee, back and other pain issues," Ragsdale said. "It's not uncommon to see those aches and pains disappear between six weeks and two months time."

A major theme of the program is the ability to scale down the program to meet every ability level, from the basic beginner to the most extreme fitness gurus.

Carly Martinez, military spouse of Tech. Sgt. Jaime Martinez, an Aerospace Ground Equipment instructor with the 361st Training Squadron, makes the program a daily part of family life.

"It helps us to come every day and say this is our date," she said. "We have three kids and everyday we're gonna meet here at lunch. We come here and work out together, it gives us stuff to talk about later. We make better choices at the dinner table because we work so hard at lunch and we don't want to blow it."

After being involved with cross-fit type programs for over three years, Tech. Sgt. Henry McRoberts, a B-1 armament systems instructor with the 363rd Training Squadron, enjoys the well-rounded aspect of the program.

"It provided a sense of balance for me," McRoberts said. "When I was trying to focus all on weight-lifting or all on a bunch of running and of course with our PT test it's a combination of both cardio and strength. This program was designed just so you could have an equal balance of both, so overall fitness wise as opposed leaning to one side or the other, I actually feel strong on both ends of the spectrum."

Seeing the results after five straight months of the program has made a believer of Martinez.

"I've lost 17 lbs and I've gone down from a size 14 to a strength is incredible," she said. "I cut four minutes off my mile and a half run time and that wasn't with running all the time, it was just doing what he (Ragsdale) asked of us every day. Its been remarkable for my body."

According to Martinez, the only requirement for success with the program is your best effort.

"As long as you come and push yourself single every day, whatever is your best and you give your best, you're going to see results with "Combat Fit", you are!"

For Ragsdale, the satisfaction of seeing people overcome both personal and professional goals through the program is enough to keep him going every day.

"Having people tell you the program saved their career is pretty humbling," he said. "It's not me, I'm just teaching you what you need to have to have the motivation."

For more information about the "Combat Fit" program, contact Ragsdale at or 676-6342.

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