By Scott Prater
After delivering her third child this past September, Staff Sgt. Megan Boren, 50th Space Communications Squadron, knew she needed some guidance to get back into the physical shape the Air Force demands.
“I had been struggling with physical training and applied at the fitness center to have a personal trainer help me figure out the best way to go about it,” she said.
Like many people who suddenly jump back into fitness, Sergeant Boren was faced with the daunting task of not only figuring out where to begin, but how long and strenuous her workouts should be.
This past summer, as stricter AF physical fitness standards took effect, more Schriever Airmen sought the help of personal trainers. Schriever Fitness and Sports Manager Seth Cannello watched as a backlog of patrons stretched into six weeks.
Knowing he couldn’t do much about the backlog, Mr. Cannello decided he could at least make the time people were waiting more productive, and make their personal-training sessions more efficient once they started them.
He sent out a request to a few fitness experts around the area asking for a running and cardio plan. The perfect response came back from Maj. Jason Zarb-Cousin, cross country, track and field director of operations at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Based on nearly 15 years of collegiate athletic and coaching experience, Major Zarb-Cousin created 12-and 16-week running and cardio workout plans that proved to be advantageous on two fronts — they were detailed and easy to follow.
Now, as soon as backlogged members reach the four-week-out point, Mr. Cannello hands over the running-program details.
“What it does is allow people to begin their cardio work, on a specified plan, prior to the time they begin seeing their trainer,” he said. “It also makes the personal-training sessions more efficient. Instead of spending 45 minutes of an hour-long session running on the track, they’re learning exercises and techniques for using the equipment at the fitness center. “
Major Zarb-Cousin produced the program during his spare time. It took approximately 40 to 50 hours to complete, but the results have proven to be all-encompassing.
“It can take anybody from any point and improve their fitness,” he said. “And it does it in a way that prevents injury and makes running more enjoyable for the participant, which helps people stick with it.”
Though Major Zarb-Cousin said the running program’s first four weeks serve to lay a foundation for the interval work that comes later, Sergeant Boren has noticed a difference in her fitness level after just two weeks.
“I’ve already drastically reduced my times,” she said. “The program allows you to assess yourself and build your baseline. It’s nice to know there’s a thought process behind it and it doesn’t feel like too much more (work). With this plan I don’t get shin splints or cramps and it’s helping my body adjust to working out again after having my baby.”
The key, says Major Zarb-Cousin, stems from increasing only one variable at time. When you increase intensity, you keep volume low, and vice versa.
“Following the program is really like having a coach,” he said. “It’s just that the coach is a piece of paper. So long as people follow it, they’ll improve. But, that’s where the responsibility comes in — they have to follow it.”
Mr. Cannello will continue to deliver details to those who have requested a personal trainer and is in an ongoing process of evaluating the new plan, but anyone can take advantage of the program. For more program information contact the Schriever Fitness Center at 567-6628.