Combat to the Core

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Carlos Diaz
While serving in a combat environment, Airmen and Soldiers also are battling weaknesses in their body's core strength to increase fitness, decrease injuries and deal with stress. Core strength refers to abdominal and back muscles used to support the spine and keep bodies stable and balanced. With their shoes off, water bottles by their sides and hand towels ready for sweat, deployed service members at the H6 Fitness Center, Balad Air Base, Iraq, feel the burn during an abs class.

"It's important to have a healthy lifestyle because it helps get the mission done," said 1st Lt. Kathryn Romano of the 332nd Expeditionary Communications Squadron.

According to Romano, the abs routine delivers a good core workout that's meant to challenge people.

The abs class is taught three nights per week. Each session lasts between 30-45 minutes. The classes feature four-count flutter kicks, 90-degree crunches, oblique and banana crunches, V-sits and planks, just to name a few.

"In general, strength core exercises such as Pilates and yoga have become very popular over the years because they concentrate on building good posture," Romano said.

"They make you feel better, lengthen your muscles and help alleviate some back problems," she said.

The abs classes consistently attract at least 30 service members each session, Romano said.

Capt. Bill Woods, also an instructor, has lost 46 pounds since arriving at Balad nearly five months ago.

"I gradually incorporated aerobics, abs training and a disciplined diet to my daily routine," he said.

The captain emphasized the importance of fitness in today's military climate.

"With our high ops tempo, there are no ifs, ands or buts about it, you have to stay fit," he said. "Fitness helps with combat and emotional stress."