KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – When the duty day ends in Afghanistan, Soldiers of Combined Task Force 4-2 (4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division)’s intelligence section jump for joy. Actually, they jump on boxes.
Capt. Ashley Nicolas, the brigade’s assistant intelligence officer, is a CrossFit level-one trainer and leads the group’s nightly workout sessions.
A small group used to work out when the brigade’s headquarters was based out of Forward Operating Base Masum Ghar, said Nicolas.
“When we got out here [to Kandahar Airfield] and had access to this facility, the group probably started out like four or five people and kind of grew from there.”
After two and half months, the group has grown to between 10 to 14 people, said Nicolas.
“CrossFit’s based off of a couple basic things,” Nicolas explained. “There’s your bodyweight exercises, which are like air squats, sit-ups, pushups, stuff like that. Then you’ve got your gymnastics exercises.”
The group tries to keep the workouts interesting by mixing up the routines, said Nicolas.
“We’re sedentary 13 hours of the day sitting at our desks, so you’ve got to have something that gets you up and gets you moving,” Nicolas said.
“We are Soldiers, so we need to make sure we’re maintaining [physical fitness],” said Nicolas.
Most workouts are between 10 and 25 minutes, she said.
One of the people who has worked out with Nicolas since Masum Ghar is Warrant Officer Chad Campbell, the human intelligence operations chief of CTF 4-2.
“This has been a really, really good experience and everyone out here has made huge gains,” said Campbell. “We’ve seen a lot of progression from a lot of individuals.”
Campbell himself has made improvements.
Before one workout in June, Nicolas watched as Campbell successfully completed a move that he had been working at for months.
“To be able to come out here and share that passion and see people fall in love with it and see people getting stronger and more confident and set goals for themselves like that, it’s the best part of my day.”
The nightly workout sessions have improved the sections overall fitness and helped strengthen bonds, said Campbell.
It’s had a huge positive effect on our office … as a whole,” Campbell said.
After the workouts, the group spends about 30 minutes decompressing and talking, which is good for the morale of everyone, he added.
“It’s just an awesome opportunity for everybody to gather and it’s stress relief, it’s fun, [and] everyone gets a good workout,” Nicolas said.