Master Fitness Trainer for the Wyoming Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Kari Brafford and Torrington-based recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Kerry D. Wyatt demonstrated and explained the six events for the new Army Combat Fitness Test, then asked if any of the students wanted to try. About a half dozen of 20 students in the first class raised their hand.
Brafford said, “The test brings awareness to physical fitness. That’s important because this age group lacks the readiness required for Army standards, and just by showing them the requirement, they see they can do it. Then, they gain confidence doing it.”
Wyatt added, “Once they gain confidence, they excel at it. Once you teach the proper technique, then they want to get better at it.”
Senior Ty Mueller was one of the students who volunteered for the demonstration. Mueller enlisted in the delayed entry program for the Army infantry and will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin basic training on May 3. “I wanted to serve my country,” he explained as the reason for signing up. As for the Army’s new fitness test, he said, “It was easier than I thought,” adding that he was confident he could “max” the new test, except for maybe the two-mile run, which he said he would work on before he leaves for basic. He acknowledged that he’d be doing plenty of running there.
Junior Kalli Nichol, who plays volleyball, and is a sprinter and high jumper for her track team, said the hardest event was the shuttle run, and “honestly was not as bad as I thought,” a sentiment echoed by several of her classmates after all was said and done. “I used muscles I had never used before, but getting through it, also depends on your mental toughness.”
The Monday and Tuesday visits to the school were prompted by Brafford who has a son and a daughter who attend Lingle-Ft. Laramie H.S., home of the Doggers, a nickname which Brafford explained was the modified version of Bulldog. A neighboring town’s high school already adopted the moniker. She reached out to the physical fitness teacher Nathan “Nate” Jones to see if he might be interested in the demonstration. Of course, Jones bit.
The Army Combat Fitness Test, which is due to be implemented Army-wide in October during a few last test runs. Then the test will become the Army’s official measure of physical performance no later than October 2020. The six events, which focus on the reality of combat, include a three-repetition maximum deadlift; a standing power throw; a hand-release push-up; a sprint-drag-carry; a leg tuck and a two-mile run. The last event is a holdover from the old test, which had only two other events, the push-up and the sit-up.
If the fitness demonstrations pick up steam among Wyoming high schools, Brafford plans to add nutrition classes that focus on macro and performance nutrients sometime later in the academic year.
Coach Jones, who has been an educator for 32 years, which includes stints in Nebraska and Iowa, said Brafford’s visit was an inspiration. “It’s fascinating to me to see the Army’s master fitness program,” he said, opining about how video games have made teenagers more sedentary. “I still lift harder than some of these young guys. Just because you get done playing sports in high school, doesn’t mean it’s time to do nothing. They should think about people in the military and what they go through. If you’re in shape, everything in life goes that much better.”