Even though Camp Mabry has been an integral part of Texas military life since 1892, the AFM FITTEST competition may be many Austinites’ first introduction to this centrally located National Guard post. In fact, Camp Mabry may be one of the most underappreciated fitness locations in the city.
As members of the Texas Army National Guard, the Air Guard, and Texas State Guard, the men and women who frequent the base have a basic level of fitness (for National Guard requirements, visit txarng.com). Many of these citizen soldiers choose to take their workouts up another notch, and that’s where the base’s CrossFit affiliate group comes in.
It’s not fancy; the group meets in a large building with garage doors that can be thrown open to let in the air. Supplies are stacked in various areas, and the primary decorations are a large U.S. flag and the Texas state flag on opposing walls. The workout equipment is basic: a Rogue system similar to what is used during the AFM FITTEST for pull-ups, weights, a clock, med balls, boxes for step-ups, a white board with the workout of the day (WOD), and a small sound system spitting out some pump-you-up tunes. A group of 30 people, 12 of them women, are working out instead of eating lunch (there’s also a 5:30 a.m. group) while several coaches move around the floor correcting form and offering encouragement.
Chief Warrant Officer Tricia Crawson gives direction, models, and corrects. In addition to being a Guardsman, Crawson is also a wife, mom, and legal administrator who manages to work out five to seven days a week and help with the CrossFit group as one of the certified instructors. “We have a wonderful support system in the Texas Military Forces,” she explained. “They’ve allowed us this space for workouts and anyone with a Department of Defense ID card—that includes retirees—can come to the class for free.”
CrossFit-type workouts, which emphasize functional movement and utilize body weight, are a benefit to military preparedness. In addition to the workouts, many of the class members had recently begun a Paleo diet contest. Crawson pointed out that the groups’ interest in an improved diet is another positive side effect of the optional workout: “The Army can be a little slow on the nutrition side, though this is getting better. We help people who are recovering from injury, who may have put on weight once they come off of active duty—some 60 percent of first attendees come to our fundamentals class* having difficulties with their weight and physical fitness. We’re all looking to get better, and anything we do here can be scaled or modified.” Captain Eric Fuentes is taking part in this nutritional challenge and is curious to see how the diet will affect his performance in the CrossFit Games. The group has been a “great thing” for him and “changed my eating habits, changed my life.” Fuentes works in recruiting and retention and explained that although the basic level of fitness in the Guard is great, “we’re always looking to improve.” Like Crawson, Fuentes volunteers his time as a certified instructor to help lead the group even though he has a demanding travel schedule; in fact, he and another group member were off to the side, making up the previous WOD they’d both missed.
Staff Sergeant Luis Torres joined the Texas Army National Guard almost 12 years ago and has seen three deployments (Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan). In addition, Torres is a marathoner—he’s run Ft. Worth’s Cowtown Marathon, Rock and Roll San Antonio, and the Bataan Memorial Death March—and a triathlete. He attends the CrossFit workout five times a week, though he modifies his schedule when he’s getting ready for an event (after all, he’s got Guard service and a job to work around). He explained that the group is tight-knit; Torres knows about 80 percent of the people there—and he enjoys that camaraderie. “CrossFit helps me mentally,” he said. “My body may say ‘no’ but the other group members say ‘go.’”
That great group feeling is evident in the hard work everyone puts out, regardless of skill level, and the air of mutual respect for members. “Rank just doesn’t matter here,” affirmed Crawson. “We’re all just working out.” And those workouts certainly pay off; last year’s 20–29 overall AFM FITTEST winner, one of the 10 FITTEST featured in the August Austin Fit Magazine 2012 issue, was Jaclyn Keys, a volunteer coach for the Camp Mabry CrossFit group. Will Keys be back to defend her title? Will one of the other group members represent Texas’ citizen soldiers on June 15? Whatever the case, the AFM FITTEST and Camp Mabry can be proud.
*Those new to CrossFit must take a fundamentals class; the Camp Mabry group has one once a month for about 24 people. There is currently a waiting list.
Trigger Point Performance, the 2013 AFM FITTEST presenting sponsor, is a company based in Austin, Texas whose revolutionary methodology and patented products mirror the feeling of a human hand. Trigger Point Performance’s mission is to provide the most practical style of therapy—something that can be “understood by anyone in need of a lifestyle change, performance enhancement, or general wellness.” Their green and white rollers and balls have become ubiquitous tools for all sorts of athletes who desire to get the most out of their bodies. Here is an explanation of myofascial compression technique from the good folks at Trigger Point Performance with information on how this technique can aid in both your preparation for and recovery after the AFM FITTEST on June 15.
Myofascial compression technique (MCT) is a revolutionary approach to movement preparation by Trigger Point Performance (TPP). This involves using specific TPP tools to build compression into muscles and take them through a range of motion, which replicates how our body moves in everyday activities. Due to our postures, habits, training, and, most importantly, dehydration, our soft tissues can begin to get “stuck” to one another over time. This leads to lack of muscle coordination, decreased efficiency in movement, muscle imbalances, and eventual injury.
MCT is designed to systematically re-introduce this motion in a safe, uncompromised environment. Many people begin a training session with a dynamic warm-up that includes exercise such as bodyweight squats, lunges, and push-ups. While a warm-up is not a bad idea, the tissue was not prepped for this movement; there is an erroneous assumption that a “warm-up” simply involves increasing core body temperature. Although this may occur slightly, true preparation involves safely bringing blood to the muscles and surrounding tissues and taking the body through a range of motion. Movements do not injure people; load and intensity cause injury, so it’s important to first be in an “unloaded” position (i.e., sitting or lying) while moving and then load the joints to move (i.e., squats, lunges, etc.). The body becomes much more prepared for the task and this greatly reduces the chance of injury and increases performance.
MCT is delivered in a format that is easy to understand and follow. There are six main sites in the body, which we call our “Ultimate Six Programming”: These are the soleus, quadriceps, psoas, piriformis, pecs, and thoracic spine. For a competition like the AFM FITTEST that involves total body endurance, strength, and power, the Ultimate Six is a great plan.
MCT should be performed before activity. Preparing for movement properly will reduce the need for the dreaded “recovery” and will increase performance. How does MCT increase performance? Muscle activation occurs immediately after working through an area. To demonstrate: After you perform the soleus manipulation, jump on the manipulated leg for ten repetitions. Repeat this on the non-manipulated side. You will experience a significant difference. Therefore, we recommend you perform the manipulations periodically throughout the day, especially if you have long periods where you sit or stand. This inactivity creates the perfect environment for the body to “lock up.” Use MCT to unlock your body before you ask it to perform.
After activity, help to restore your body’s movement and reduce the chances of delayed onset muscle soreness by “cooling down” with TPP’s Cold Roller. Several studies have shown the benefits of utilizing cold compression to help with recovery. In addition, after performing in excessive heat, the Cold Roller has shown to help reduce core body temperature significantly while addressing the muscles.
Here are three of the six key areas for MCT: the soleus, quadriceps, and pecs (for more information, visit tptherapy.com/unlock-your-body-ultimate-6-areas.html).
a. Position: Seated on the ground with one leg outstretched over the baller block and foot baller
b. Programming: Foot rotations and knee flexions
a. Position: Lay face down on the ground with the Quadballer placed just above the knee
b. Programming: Work from knee to hip—roll, crossfriction, and knee bends. Then, rotate body slightly and repeat programming from hip to knee
a. Position: Stand with neutral posture with TP Massage Ball over pec and hands overlaying to apply compression
b. Programming: Pivots and pulls