Photo Information

Master Sgt. Richard Buer, base telephone chief, executes pull-ups during a CrossFit session aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Nov. 6, 2009. CrossFit combines three different methods of training: cardio, gymnastics and weight lifting, to allow people of all skill levels to participate and work to achieve their training goals.

Photo by Cpl Triah Pendracki

CrossFit Al Asad brings a new approach to physical fitness

8 Nov 2009 | Cpl. Triah Pendracki

Service members deployed to Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, are given many opportunities to improve their physical fitness. While some people spend hours in the gym or hitting the pavement running every day, a group of service members and civilians are taking a different approach that yields similar results.

CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program used by individuals of all different athletic skill levels.

I used to go to the gym and work out for 45 minutes, but I found that I was losing all the muscle I had gained, explained Maj. Victor Frausto, protocol officer for Multi National Force - West and a level I CrossFit instructor. That's when I started [using] CrossFit, because it works everything.

The CrossFit athletes aboard Al Asad operate their program every day of the week, with a day of rest every three days.

The program includes a warm-up and a workout of the day, known as a WOD. While this may sound simple for some, many of the WODs are very grueling and can take anywhere between a few minutes to an hour, depending on each athlete�s skill level.

�Our workouts are scalable to everyone's abilities, said Frausto. We incorporate cardio, gymnastics and weight lifting into our workouts. Some days, we'll only use one method, other times we will work with all three methods.

The WODs are all given names. Some are named after women who participated in the program and did exceptionally well at many of the exercises, while others are named for fallen heroes, including American service members, firefighters and Canadian service members.

Most CrossFit athletes began the program after seeing the results from their peers.

I was running the half marathon out here, and I had been training for months, running about 35 or more miles each week, explained Master Sgt. Richard Buer, the base telephone chief. About eight miles into the run, one of the runners blew past me and beat me by about 20 minutes. After the race, I found him and asked him what he did to train for it; he said CrossFit. I came for a session about a week later, and I've been hooked ever since.

Other participants are training for their future military duties with the help of CrossFit.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael Mayulianos, a hospital corpsman with II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward), is hoping to be a corpsman with a reconnaissance unit in the future.

I saw [CrossFit] on a weight-lifting website and it looked intriguing, so I came out for a session. Now I instruct the morning classes, said Mayulianos.

The sessions are held three times each day outside the Slightly Above Average Joe's Gym to ensure maximum availability of the program for willing participants.

Everyone is welcome to come out to try CrossFit, concluded Frausto. We try to help them become better athletes, making them bigger, faster and stronger.