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AF Alpha Warrior program ensures Airmen’s functional fitness

Alpha Warrior strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie Jr. gives instructions on how to use the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig during a presentation at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland April 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Steve Warns)

Alpha Warrior strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie Jr. gives instructions on how to use the Alpha Warrior Battle Rig during a presentation at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, April 11, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo/Steve Warns)

Senior Airman Jonathan Rutledge of the 502nd Communication Squadron at JBSA-Lackland, Texas, navigates the swinging bars portion of the Battle Rig April 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Steve Warns)

Senior Airman Jonathan Rutledge, from the 502nd Communication Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, navigates the swinging bars portion of a Battle Rig April 11, 2017. Battle Rigs measure 15-by-30 feet wide, 12½-feet in height and have 11 obstacles. (U.S. Air Force photo/Steve Warns)


A new emphasis on functional fitness is central to the Air Force mission to fly, fight and win.

The Air Force Services Activity, or AFSVA, is teaming with obstacle race specialists Alpha Warrior, using equipment similar to that used on the television competition series American Ninja Warrior, to continue building on Comprehensive Airman Fitness.

The Air Force Alpha Warrior program incorporates the four domains of CAF – physical, mental, social and spiritual – to achieve readiness and resilience at home and while deployed.

Eighteen battle rigs and 25 stations will roll out across 41 installations worldwide this fiscal year, and will be at the core of the program, said Jim Anderson, the chief of AFSVA’s business and recreation branch. All other Air Force installations are expected to receive equipment in fiscal year 2018.

Battle Stations are approximately 12-feet wide by 12-feet long, measure 11 feet in height and consist of six obstacles. Battle Rigs measure 15-by-30 feet wide, 12½-feet in height and have 11 obstacles, said David Nolan, the Alpha Warrior chief executive officer.

Obstacles on rigs include the salmon sadder, where competitors move a metal bar up while hanging from it, the devil steps, where competitors climb steps using their hands and rope climbs.

“The daily and sustained use of Alpha Warrior equipment will sharpen our Airmen’s physical and mental abilities,” Anderson said. “Maintaining that functional fitness is important because it enables them to face physical and mental challenges at home and in a deployed environment.”

The program includes a 15-region competition starting in September with the top male and female qualifiers from each region guaranteed  to move on to compete in an Air Force-wide competition at the Alpha Warrior Challenge course in San Antonio in November. The 10 male and 10 female competitors with the fastest times from across the Air Force will join the 30 regional champions for a total of 50 Air Force athletes earning a spot in the final competition.

“What’s interesting about (Alpha Warrior) is it brings a fun value to working out and fitness,” said Nolan. “In other words, when you’re doing the obstacles and doing the training, it’s not just going to the gym. It’s a fun way of constantly moving around.”

An Air Force Alpha Warrior Tour kicks off April 18-19, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, and runs through October. Brent Steffensen and Kacy Catanzaro from NBC’s “America Ninja Warrior,” and noted coach Bennie Wylie, Jr. from NBC’s “Strong” will be among the celebrity spokespeople.

With this new program, the Air Force and the Alpha Warrior team are looking to bring enthusiasm to the service’s fitness equation.

“The biggest difference in what we do, how we operate, our goals and our motives, is really about human performance,” Wylie said. “We make sure they’re highly motivated and that they enjoy what they’re doing, that they want to come back and that they have such a great experience.”

According to the AFSVA program manager, the goal is to have Airmen not just get excited about the program, but optimize their performance by the physical, mental, spiritual and social benefits that come from training on this equipment.

“When Airmen are at the peak of their physical, mental, social and spiritual training, they are optimal,” Wylie added. “They are combat ready. They are not just lifting weights. They’re not just running two miles.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Maj. Gen. Brad Spacy, the Air Force Installation and Support Center commander.

“What Airmen get out of accomplishing Alpha Warrior is confidence,” the general said. “That confidence is gained from using their physical and mental strength to complete the course, and they can take that confidence back to their duty stations or to a deployed environment.”

For more information on Alpha Warrior, visit www.myairforcelife.com


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