Staying fit for battle

Story Sgt. Ann Venturato
13th COSCOM Public Affairs

Staying fit while being deployed takes working around a busy schedule in a high tempo environment can be very difficult; however, many Soldiers are still finding the time necessary to workout and stay fit.

"I make time in my weekly schedule to workout," said Sgt. 1st Class Orlando Galarza, who has been a Master Fitness Trainer for seven years now, "I get up at 4 a.m. in the morning on Tuesday through Saturday to work out at the gym."

"I exercise to maintain my current fitness level for the next two years," said Galarza, who is the NCOIC for the 13th COSCOM Communications section.

"I do 200 to 300 sit-ups every night," said Staff Sgt. Alexander Bryant, who has been a Command Total Fitness Trainer for almost two years. "I workout during the evenings six nights a week and run 2 to 3 miles three times a week."

"My goal is to get into peak physical fitness like I was back in 2000," said Bryant, who is an ammunitions manager for the 13th COSCOM, "my goal is to be able to bench press 405 pounds and dead lift 100 pounds."

Command Total Fitness Trainers are trained on new ways to stretch out and exercise that will help prevent injuries to Soldiers and trained on the new PT test standard, said Bryant.

Both fitness trainers suggested that variety in exercise is very important. Both Galarza and Bryant said they make sure to exercise different muscle groups on different days so they don't overdue it.

"Soldiers should find someone to go work out with; someone who will give them a push to get a good workout," said Galarza, who says he enjoys competing in bench press competitions.

Cpt. Lisa Harmon, the general supply officer for the 4th CMMC, has a group that works out together regularly. Harmon says she has competed in several triathlons as well as one Ironman triathlon.

Harmon isn't the only one who has a workout partner. Spc. Deana Luna, a communications specialist with the 13th COSCOM, says she has recently started working out with Staff Sgt. Marlee Rivera. "We have a contest going on to see who will have the best-toned abs by the end of the deployment," said Luna.

"Maintaining the workout schedule is just as important as making time to workout. Soldiers need to be committed to keeping up a regular workout schedule," said Galarza, "Getting in shape doesn't happen overnight; it's a work in progress. Soldiers shouldn't get discouraged from working out just because they don't see the immediate results they want."

"Soldiers need to start off slow on a workout program that fits their workout ability at that moment and through time work to increase the intensity of the workout," said Bryant.

"Another tip for Soldiers is to eat right," said Bryant, "I suggest soldiers stay away from sweets and cut down on the high fat and fried foods,"

Bryant, who is physically fit, says he maintains a low carbohydrate diet, which includes a lot of green vegetables and some low fat proteins.

"75 percent of fitness is diet," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Morrow, a Master Fitness Trainer with D Company, 29th Signal Battalion, "Soldiers should stay away from fats, high carbohydrates, and high fatty foods."

"No amount of exercise will produce any gains in weight loss, if a Soldier has a poor diet," said Morrow, who successfully assisted 40 Soldiers in getting off the overweight program at his previous unit.

Morrow has experience as a personal trainer and dietician. Since he has been here in Iraq, Morrow has written out diet plans for 25 Soldiers.

"It is good for Soldiers to live a healthy lifestyle," said Bryant, "Soldiers need to stick with exercise and try to maintain a workout program."

"Exercise makes you feel better, gives you energy, builds self-esteem, and makes time here go by a lot faster," said Lt. Col. Betty Holm, the medical plans officer for the 13th COSCOM.


SFC Orlando Galarza
SFC Orlando Galarza of the 13th COSCOM G6 lifting weights at the Camp Anaconda Gym.

SPC Eric Leslie
SPC Eric Leslie, the 3/504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, working out his legs at the Camp Anaconda Gym.

Coscom soldiers working out
Coscom soldiers working out