Story and photos by Walt Johnson
More than 50 U.S. Marines converged on McKibben Physical Fitness Center to take over a specific area of the facility. This was not a war game; it was wounded warriors staking out their territory for battle against members of the U.S. Army.
That battle takes place May 14-Friday at the United States Olympic Training Center when wounded warriors of the United States military will meet in the 2010 Warrior Games. The Warrior Games are designed to help members of the military, who have been wounded or disabled while serving the country, get back into competitive sports said Maj. Susan Stark, head coach and operations officer for the 2010 Marine Corps Warrior Games team.
“We want the athletes to be introduced to different sports and see them get their competitive edge back. We feel like that has already been accomplished during our training camp the past five days here. The Marines are very motivated and very excited to have this training,” Stark said.
The training the Marines are getting here is familiar to many members of the Mountain Post who have been taking advantage of the new TRX training system for close to a year. TRX is body-weight-based training where one uses body weight to exercise. The Marines have made themselves at home in the southwest corner of the facility where TRX straps are hooked onto a training pole. They are getting the benefits of learning how to train with the equipment that is making a difference in the way the Soldiers get combat ready.
Joe Martin, former SEAL, is teaching the Marines how to use the equipment and the proper way to get full benefit from the training. Martin said he first started using the TRX system as a rehabilitation tool, but quickly realized the benefits it could have for military members.
“In 2006, I started educating the military on how this body-training equipment helps body-based training,” he said.
“It’s very portable and only weighs about two pounds. You don’t have to pack a bunch of weights like I remember we did when I was active duty. We would pack kettlebells, dumbbells and weights and now this piece of equipment comes in a little kit bag that the troops can store in their ruck. This piece of equipment can attach anywhere. You can put it on the turret of a tank, on a door or just about anywhere,” Martin said.
The TRX workout works from three different principles. The first one is the vector position, which can also be a rehabilitative stretching tool. The steeper someone places his feet as he leans back on the equipment, the harder it is for him to do the exercise. Martin said it’s a lot harder to do the exercise than when someone is standing erect.
The next thing it works on is stability. It has one anchor point attached to a door (or other thing). Martin said that those training for the games are working wounded veterans or amputees and this is another way to help those them get physical training.
“Now if I am shoulder-width apart, I have a nice stable base. As I put the base closer together, I have a smaller footprint and I have to engage my core when I work out. The last one is the pendulum principle, where the more the straps are swinging back and forth will dictate how much stress is added to the exercise. This is what we call integrated-muscle-movement exercises. At a typical gym, if you are sitting on a chair or sitting on a bench, it is what we call isolated-muscle movement. That really doesn’t translate into the regular Army, because no one stands there and just does (isolated movements). A typical Soldier will do lifting, turning, bending, jumping and running, which is what we call
integrated-muscle movement,” Martin said.
Stark said the Marines are sold on the TRX system and what it has to offer America’s fighting force. She said the benefits her Marines are getting from the training will last long after the team members leave here and return to their respective units around the world.
“The Marines are very motivated and very excited to have this training. Each of our Marines will receive one of these TRX pieces of equipment to take back to their home base with them. What we like about the TRX system is our athletes have different types of disabilities and this equipment can be tailored to any athlete. We have one athlete who is blind, has brain cancer and is missing two legs up to the hip. We were able to strap him to his wheelchair and we taught him how to do pull ups while holding on to his chair,” Stark said.
The Warrior games will consist of nine events for the athletes. The events include swimming, cycling, track, archery, shooting wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, the Warrior 100-meter run, 1500-meter swim, prone-air rifle shooting and shot put events.