Over the course of three weekends, spanning roughly 60 days this summer, nearly 100 soldiers from the Massachusetts Army National Guard participated in a comprehensive training program led by the O2X team. Not only did the group of soldiers collectively lose over 300 pounds of body fat, but they also gained more than 100 pounds of muscle. These results are a snapshot of the significant physical and mental improvements soldiers experienced through the training.
For these soldiers, their training series began in August when they were introduced to O2X and were able to see their baseline results on the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT). Armed with knowledge of where they stood, O2X Specialist Matt Cady designed a 60-day physical training program that could be individualized for each soldier with the goal of improving baseline PT scores significantly over the course of the summer sessions.
By the third and final weekend of O2X training, the impact of the physical program and educational sessions was clear. Between the baseline assessment and the final weekend’s officially recorded test, the group completed a total of 442 more push-ups, 595 more sit-ups, and cut the time it took to run two miles by 147 minutes cumulatively since their first attempt.
In addition to the group improvements, several service members hit significant milestones and saw notable personal gains. Following the O2X training regimen enabled 14 soldiers, who had previously been flagged for failing their APFT, to pass the test and move forward in their careers.
“I think that this needs to be guard-wide,” said one soldier. “I was able to improve myself in a short three months. I was flagged for my PT and struggled with it since getting off active duty. Thank you.”
Beyond the physical training and progress, the group experienced growth in other areas of human performance as well. During each weekend iteration, soldiers went through didactic training in subjects like nutrition, injury risk reduction, mental performance, fatigue management, and leadership development, all with a focus on getting 1% better every day rather than making sweeping, short-term changes.
Highlights included courses on yoga and iRest with O2X Specialist Brittany Petty and injury prevention, both of which allowed soldiers to take a tactical pause and focus on recovering from nagging injuries.
“Injury prevention and yoga appeared to be a huge hit,” says O2X Lead Instructor, Josh Stuart-Shor. “I think a lot of participants are banged up or hurt from old injuries; the realization that you don’t just have to accept this discomfort, and can do low impact exercises to mitigate pain, was really well received.”
One of the biggest advantages of working with O2X is the access to a team of leading experts and instructors who can provide real-world application of each topic by using examples from their own tactical experience. Josh Stuart-Shor is no exception. He served as a Green Beret and Detachment Commander in 3rd Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, and sustained an injury to his foot so severe that he was told he would never run again. Today, he is very active, works as a firefighter in a physically demanding environment and has a very healthy relationship with his family. And as a Lead Instructor for O2X, he is able to relate his own experiences to the training for soldiers to see how each topic relates to their specific demands.
“Over several deployments, I had to really focus on the skills we teach to be successful both on the job, down range and more importantly, when I returned to my family,” Josh said. After being injured a few times overseas, the crux of what O2X teaches: resilience, sleep, stress management and injury prevention became a major part of his day to day life. “So part of my approach is helping relate the course content to the participants by showing them it worked for me,” he said.
It’s stories like Josh’s, paired with exceptional leadership qualities and top tier subject matter expertise, that helped create a lasting impact for the soldiers participating in the O2X Human Performance Workshop and training program this summer.
“I felt this program was great at motivating us to make changes to better ourselves. Showing how the small changes build up and to not be overwhelmed with the process of change,” one participant said.
The results speak for themselves and the O2X staff and participants all agree that the workshop was well worth it.