Army 1st Sgt. Shawn Jarvis doesn’t need a fancy four-year fitness study — like the one pitting CrossFit against unit PT at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas — to tell him what he already knows: CrossFit works better than traditional unit PT.
“I drank the CrossFit Kool-Aid because I’ve seen the results, not only with myself, but with my soldiers,” says Jarvis, assigned to the 3rd Infantry Division.
Since his unit — yes, his entire unit — adopted CrossFit as its primary mode of physical training about a year ago, PT test scores have gone up and injury rates have gone down, he says.
“I consider PT the most important part of the day, because it’s the one time you can make or break motivation for the rest of the day,” says Jarvis, the top enlisted leader for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. “So we do CrossFit every morning, except on Thursdays, which is our road-march day.”
Anyone who knows the difference between a kettlebell and a medicine ball knows the cult of CrossFit has drawn a huge following among those in uniform.
Just witness the explosion of official “military affiliate” CrossFit “boxes” — as most CrossFitters like to call their Spartan houses of pain. From the Pentagon to the combat zones, on-base boxes have jumped from about 60 affiliates four years ago to more than 160 now.
But most, if not all, are for individuals looking to augment their regular unit PT. Now, however, entire units across all services are dumping their standard PT playbooks, in whole or in part, for CrossFit workouts.