Operation Fit To Fight

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There are certain moments in your life that you will always remember because they leave such a deep imprint.  I had one of those moments over the course of an intense, physically demanding weekend a few months ago.  I was a participant in a three day Personal Trainer workshop. Part of that workshop included a class called ''Operation Fit to Fight'', created and instructed by Staff Sergeant Ken Weichert.  He proved to be a source of inspiration that I will remember for the rest of my life.

When Ken was a senior in high school, he had what most young men would dream about.  He was a key player on the football team, and was being recruited by colleges nationwide.  However, during one tragic play, he was badly injured. Doctors told him he would probably never walk again—but he proved them wrong.  Not only did he go on to walk, but he is now a six-time ''Soldier of the Year'' recipient, a Veteran of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm, and has spent the last 20 years ensuring that National Guard Soldiers are ''fit to fight''. His mission was inspired by these sobering statistics:  18% of men and 43% of women of recruiting age are too overweight to be eligible for military service of any type, in any branch, and 3,000 troops were discharged in 2003 alone because of excess weight.   Ken and his wife, Stephanie (also a certified personal trainer) founded the START Fitness program in San Francisco, and now also operate in Nashville, with the mission to help recruits and service men and women all around the globe to become fit enough to serve their country. Ken's story inspired me so much, and I came out of his class a changed person.

Almost eight months prior to the class, I underwent a surgery to reattach my bicep tendon on my right shoulder, and was on the long, slow road to recovery.  Going into surgery, I wondered if I would ever be able to freely use my arm/shoulder like I wanted to.  I had a very real fear that I would lose the ground I had made during my healthy lifestyle journey on SparkPeople.  Down 95 pounds and maintaining, living a life of fitness, I wondered if this would be the bottom of the drop of the yo-yo. Would I start on my way back up, like the numerous times in my life when I had lost weight before?  I was standing at the opening of a long, dark tunnel and wondered what I would find on the other side.

I let Ken know right off the bat that I was going into this class with an injury that wasn’t fully healed.  He was so accommodating throughout the entire weekend, making sure I had alternatives to the exercises if needed and that I remained uninjured.  I ended up making it through six classes with him over the course of the weekend.  Ken closed the weekend workshop asking us to remember three basic steps when hunting for better health:  Be resolute, Be accountable, and Be thorough. While doing the cool down stretches at the end of the class, I had tears running down my face.  I’m sure Ken was wondering what was up with me.  It was at that moment where I realized I had come out on the other side of the tunnel and saw the light.  I was alright and the yo-yo was not a part of my life.

Ken gave me hope and made me see that I had a strength I hadn’t realized up until that point. One particular thing that he shared really resonated with me and has stuck with me to this day: the word ''calisthenics'' originates from a Greek word meaning ''beautiful strength''.  Think on that next time you are in a boot camp class trying to crank out one more pushup.  You’re creating a beautiful strength in your body every time you work out.
You can follow Sgt. Ken on Facebook, check out his website, or reach him at 877-ARMY-FIT.   If you’re ever in an area where he is teaching, I would highly recommend his classes.  They are challenging, and he is motivating. 

After finishing one his workshops you will be certified to teach ''Operation Fit to Fight'' boot camps.   If you’re a personal trainer, you can register with this link to donate your time to train members of the military and their family members.

I’m now looking forward to getting my Level 2 certification with Ken when he comes back next year.  I plan on beating my record from this year for his obstacle course and shouting out a big ''Hoo-ha!''  Thank you, Ken, for giving me an inspirational weekend and helping me find a new level of strength to fight the fight against obesity.  In the end, I also owe thanks to two other gentlemen in this story.  One is ''SparkGuy'' Chris, who helped me get started on this journey.  Without him, I wouldn’t have been in that class. The second is my personal trainer, Mitchell, who I’ve always referred to as Mr. Squat Police. During Ken’s class when I couldn’t do all of the pushups, I was doing squats while everyone else did pushups. I guess that squat training was beneficial after all!

Is there someone in your life who has motivated you to stay on your healthy lifestyle journey?  Give them a shout-out here and let them know you appreciate them.

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ROSSYFLOSSY 12/10/2019
Great motivation! Report
RO2BENT 3/13/2019
Inspirational Report
SXB990 3/13/2019
Great article Report
Thanks, I will follow him on Facebook now. Very inspiring. Report
Thank you for sharing! Report
Thank you for sharing. I have always struggled with my weight, my entire life!!! I see stories like this and gives me some hope that I can do it as well. Report
I have inspired myself, after fighting breast cancer and winning 3 times. I give everything my all. I loved this story! Report
My son is currently in basic training. He quoted me those exact stats that you have in this article re: the # of those unable to continue on due to being out of shape, and overweight. I thank my lucky stars that I was a Mom Drill Sgt to my son and counseled him to get fit . . . keep moving . . . eat healthy, because he tells me in almost every letter home that it paid big dividends.

Thanks for the story and thanks for people like Ken who care enough to help those who want help!

HOOZA! Blessings to all us military families and our soldiers. May He hold us in the palm of His hands always. Report
very cool program Report
My adult children do the P90X work out with Tony Horton. Have had amazing results. Report
Awesome Story!!! Very Inspirational!! God Bless Our Service Men and Women. God Bless Everyone and Have a Wonderful Week. Report
My personal trainer is my inspiration. I've lost nearly 40 lbs since November and been working with him since the beginning of February, and it makes all the difference in the world to my day when he tells me I've done well, had good form, increased in reps or weights, or that I am walking and/or holding my balance better. I am also slowly recovering from 2 detached tendons and a torn MCL in my left legin August 2010, a TIA (mini-stroke) May 2011 and surgery on my left leg to remove a non-malignant tumor (ossifying chondroid lipoma) in July 2011. After 2 years of barely being able to walk and constant falling, it feels good to know there is someone standing behind me to support me and catch me if I fall. Report
I've had the good fortune to take seminars and training with some really terrific people over the years. One day, I'd love to have a session with Sgt Ken. He sounds great.

Who motivates me ? the members at the gym who take my classes. Each week I have new people come and go and they are great people. But, it's the regulars who motivate me to be a better instructor. It's those folks who keep coming back that keep me on the journey. They're a fantastic bunch ! Report
Awesome post - thanks for sharing. I get my inspiration from SP and from Jillian Michaels! Report
Awesome story :)

Thank you for sharing! Report
Thanks so much for sharing your story. I currently have a knee injury and waiting to get back to boot camp. Thinking of going back early and work on upper body instead of just staying home! Report
Thanks for sharing your story! Report
Thank you for sharing your story. Sounds very inspiring! Report
Great story. Anyone else think he looks like Mr. Clean? Report
I thank the instructors at our local YMCA - not only do they motivate me and make me work, they've become my friends :) Report
I want to thank SparkPeople for the resources to ge started and motivated to make a healthy life change. Report
I thank the doctors at the hosptial for beong honest and laying wverything out there with my health and what I needed to do after my stroke. I got started a little bit before I found Sparkpeople with exercise. I am also grateful for Chris Downie for creating this site that I get so much from. I get motivation from other Spark members. I get lots of motivation from my oldest son, Bryce when he is home, he is the energizer bunny I think. My granddog Shadow has been my constant walking buddy through this journey and helped me get to where I am today. I really would love to understand how they know what you can and can't do, when you can push it and when you can't. Report