Thursday, November 10, 2005

A Culture Of Fitness

After returning to the Navy from working on my graduate degree full-time, I was introduced a couple of new concepts that had surfaced while I was away. One of these being the "Culture of Fitness".

I will be the first to admit that those of us in the surface Navy (in general) do not focus as much on fitness of our members as other services. Most of us get underway on small ships with limited availability of gym equipment (or time to use it), and when we're inport, we work hard repairing and maintaining equipment and trying to spen time with our families. The Navy had made efforts to emphasize physical fitness repeatedly since I joined, and most of them fizzle out. It is a struggle to stay in shape; I've gained 15 pounds since I was commissioned. I don't want to be chubby, but I have a problem with the Culture of Fitness.

The problem with all this focus on staying fit is that we don't bother training anyone how to do it. Just go run, do some push-ups and sit-ups, beat the crap out of yourself. That's what I did. Not knowing what not to do, I managed to injure myself chronically over and over again, starting seven years ago, after I developed shin splints which persist to this day. I sprained both ankles while jogging and continue to roll and sprain them occassionally because they are perpetually weak. I have tendonitis in both shoulders as a result of lifting more weight than I should've repeatedly and incorrectly, not knowing any better.

Here's what I would say to the Chief of Naval Operations or the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy: It's all good that you want to emphasize fitness, but if people don't know what they're doing, they are going to do more harm than good. We need to train them how not to injure themselves for God's sake! I'd love to see a study about how many man-hours are lost due to injury form exercise, because it happens frequently, occassionally costing the Navy good people, because they can no longer go to sea.

The more injured I am, the less able I am to exercise, the fatter I get and the less able I am to meet physical fitness standards. I can barely run anymore without excruciating pain, how's that for Human Capital?


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