P90X for the Military: My Observations on the Army, Navy, and Air Force Physical Training Programs

The US military branches are beginning to incorporate P90X into their regular physical training. Over my career as a Department of Defense employee,  I’ve worked out beside Air Force officers and civil servants on military installations, and I’d love to see P90X become the new standard.  I’ve seen a lot of fitness testing over the years and I’ve seen guys pass and wondered how, both with the ergo-cycle and newer 4-part test (body composition, aerobic fitness, push-ups, and crunches).  One of the airmen I dated became significantly overweight during the time I knew him, and yet he still passed the test…and continued to gain weight that was definitely not muscle.  He worked out regularly, but it just wasn’t very effective.
I dated two Navy Seals before that, both here for a short while in EOD (bomb squad) school, and I was always a little overwhelmed by the curve of their backs when we hit the beach for an afternoon.  The second one finally let me in on the secret—the Navy requires A LOT of pull-ups, and that makes for a really ripped back.
Yes, I tend to date men in the military—I’m around them more than any other profession and have a real appreciation for what they do–and I’ve definitely observed differences in the physical requirements put on the Navy, Air Force, and Army.  From my personal observations, Army guys are in the best shape, followed by Navy, and then Air Force.  That’s not a put-down of my friends in the Air Force—just an observation that their program doesn’t seem as effective as the Army’s.  Again, this is based on my personal observations of hundreds of colleagues, their gym routines, and my conversations with them.  It’s embarrassing to out-walk and out-last a major on the track, especially when I’m 10 years older than he is and nursing a knee injury.
The Army guys I’ve dated have definitely been the most fit.  You can’t not notice this.  Muscles show right through those T-shirts.  So do abs. Over the years,  I’ve had a couple of boyfriends in the Army, and they could all pick me up with ease and carry me over small creeks, muddy terrain, or just the length of the house.  That’s not to say that the Navy and Air Force don’t produce gentlemen as well as officers, but if “no man is left behind,” that means they have to have the strength to haul around both fallen soldiers–and girlfriends.
One thing about the Army—they keep their soldiers moving, moving, moving.  I’ve seen plenty of middle-aged Army guys outrun twenty-somethings in the Air Force.  They not only march, jog, and run, but they do it with 35-pound rucksacks on their backs.  Their training seems to focus on strength and stamina.  After all, they’re often out there in hostile terrain with sometimes 100 pounds of gear on them and they have to keep moving. 
In fact, I first learned of P90X not through the infomercial (still haven’t seen it!) but through a former boyfriend who’d deployed.  To stay in shape in a small space and fight the boredom of his off-hours, he focused on getting as fit as he could during his deployment.  I was amazed at his result photos 30 days, 60 days, then 90 days later. 
Meanwhile, back here on the Air Force Base where I work, I know more female civil servants who are transforming their bodies with P90X than I know of members of the Air Force trying  the program.  I’m hoping that will change.


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