News: Fort Carson holds competition for title of fittest soldier
Story by Spc. Nathan Thome
FORT CARSON, Colo. – Soldiers across Fort Carson will have the chance to compete against each other to see who is the fittest on post during the VO2 Max Competition scheduled for Feb. 19-22 at the Iron Horse Sports and Fitness Center.
VO2 Max is the scientific term used for cardiorespiratory fitness, and is the maximum capacity to transport and use oxygen in the body. The competition measures a soldier’s fitness through the use of Fitmate Pro, a machine able to measure oxygen consumption.
“The VO2 Max Competition is a great chance for those soldiers who think they’re pretty fit to come out and prove it,” said Krys Bankard, health promotion technician, Army Wellness Center. “Their bragging rights will be based on science, and no one really loses, because everyone finds out how well their body uses oxygen, which really is the key to cardiorespiratory fitness.”
Bankard and Tony Heinz, director AWC, use a set formula to measure cardiorespiratory fitness, and ensure an accurate reading of each participant.
“Cardiorespiratory fitness is measured by milliliters of oxygen per kilogram per minute,” said Heinz. “We believe the VO2 is scientifically based. It measures oxygen consumption, which is the key ingredient for cardiorespiratory fitness - how much your lungs and heart are able to absorb during cardiorespiratory fitness.”
Those who take the VO2 Max test receive a readout and number from the Fitmate Pro. This number represents their measured cardiorespiratory fitness.
“This is not a physical fitness test, which tells you how fast you can run and how many push-ups and sit-ups you can do. That does not tell you, objectively, your cardiorespiratory fitness,” said Heinz. “We have equipment to accurately and scientifically measure a soldier’s actual cardiorespiratory fitness, so we can find the soldier with the greatest ability to uptake oxygen and has the greatest cardiorespiratory fitness.”
The post-wide competition was developed to find Fort Carson’s fittest soldier, who will then put their numbers up against other installations.
“The fittest male and female soldiers are going to go into an Army-wide competition, which is yet to be set up, to compete to see who is the fittest soldier in the Army,” said Heinz. “It’s important to soldiers to be able to compete. One thing I’ve learned about soldiers is that they like competition.”
Soldiers who believe they are fit enough to compete in the competition can talk to their chain of command.
“Each battalion is able to send their fittest soldier to the Iron Horse gym, then we’re going to determine who has the bragging rights on post to say they have the fittest soldier,” Heinz said.
Capt. Sarah Reynolds, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion (General Support), 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, and 1st Lt. Aaron Berg, battalion medical officer/executive officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, both took at trial run of the VO2 test to see where they ranked on the fitness scale.
“I’m in the competition to see where I rank amongst other soldiers, and to challenge myself,” said Berg. “It gives you a baseline approach to see where you need to improve.”
Berg said he took his platoon to the wellness center so they could all go through the Bod Pod and see their metabolic rates.
“I think everyone in the military strives to be more than they are,” said Berg.
Gaining this experience and seeing ranks and placement is pretty important to see what you need to improve on, added Berg.
Reynolds went through the VO2 Max test to see if the workouts she did on her free time paid off. After taking the test, her results showed she ranked excellent.
Reynolds said the VO2 Max test is valuable to all those who take it, because of the knowledge it provides. Soldiers can customize their workouts to increase their fitness and meet their physical goals.
“This competition is a great way to give myself something to work for,” added Reynolds. “Normally, there is the Army physical fitness test, but this is a new measure, and from the information that I’ve gained from the VO2 Max results, I’m able to customize my workouts, so that I know when I’m hitting an endurance heart rate when I improve.”
Reynolds said she recommends the VO2 Max test to all soldiers, because they gain knowledge that can be applied to their daily life.
“The biggest benefit of this test and the upcoming competition is to see if your hard work pays off, and to what level,” said Reynolds. “It’s like, every day you’re out there running, pushing yourself, and this test shows just how much it paid off. It’s very motivating.”