Battle Rig: A new kind of fitness

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Zachary Vucic
  • 911th Airlift Wing
A new workout made its debut here October 14, 2018, with the introduction of the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig to Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station’s array of fitness equipment.

The 911th Airlift Wing welcomed two Alpha Warrior pros, Tawnee Leonardo and Kevin Klein, to demonstrate the rig, and explain the various programs designed to keep Airmen functionally fit.

“We’re trying to build something that gets people excited about working out, and excited about working out together,” Klein said.

Klein went on to explain that the challenging design of the rig meets all four of the Comprehensive Airman Fitness model’s pillars: mental, physical, social and spiritual.

“There’s a huge cognitive function of this. You’ve got to really have a game plan. You have to stay mentally strong, and execute your game plan when you’re on the rig,” he said, speaking to the mental pillar of CAF.

Klein said the physical aspect of the rig is obvious, and spoke on the efforts the team put into designing a program that emphasizes teamwork and a spiritual sense of accomplishment.

“We built it to remove the headphones from your ear, to remove the isolation when you walk into a gym. We want people training together, we want to build comradery,” he said.

Col. Douglas N. Strawbridge, commander of the 911th Airlift Wing, said the Battle Rig will give our Airmen a way to improve self-confidence by slowly, but steadily, conquering obstacles.

“It builds comradery by having workout buddies encouraging one another and having your unit cheer you along during competitions,” said Strawbridge.

The rig, and programs designed around it, operate around the idea of functional fitness and working muscles that traditional workouts tend to overlook.

“It’s designed around the functional fitness concept of everything you do from carrying groceries to doing your job,” said Jim Anderson, the branch chief of business and recreation at Air Force Services Activity. “There’s a lot of grip strength, a lot of balance and a lot of core work. That’s not something you typically work out in the back of the weight room.”

Leonardo, a native of Punxsutawney, Pa., said that initial reactions to seeing the Battle Rig are that it is slightly daunting. Once word gets out however, and challenges are thrown out between friends, it quickly becomes a healthy competition, she said.

“It makes the whole event that much more exciting,” Leonardo said. “There’s a lot of energy in the gym. The (Airmen) are cheering each other on, but also competing against each other. I think they forget that there’s this functional fun component to fitness. Once they start, it’s addicting.”

In all, the tour saw 41 military installations in 2017, and will total up 29 more with the 2018 tours. Originally, the focus was on introducing a new type of workout to spark interest in getting fit. After the first tour however, the team visited the idea of creating workouts designed around the rig. They worked with fitness professionals to create several workouts designed using the rig not as a focal point, but rather an aspect, Anderson said.

Once created, they launched an effort to revisit bases and train Air Force physical training leaders on the programs, and leave them with the knowledge that they too could create unique workouts, using the Battle Rig as a portion of those programs.

“The Alpha Warrior Battle Rig provides a venue for our Airmen to meet and come together as a team and will greatly impact the 911th's ability to further develop the team mentality,” said Strawbridge.

Soon, Pittsburgh will have its own Battle Rig constructed to keep its Airmen functionally fit.