The Army has long had rigorous fitness requirements, but today new recruits need to shape up more than ever. The top reason recruits are rejected by the Army is because they are overweight. “What we were finding was that the soldiers we’re getting in today’s Army are not in as good shape as they used to be,” Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling told The New York Times. “This is not just an Army issue. This is a national issue.” The problem the Army is facing reflects the rise of obesity in America.
This year, the Army has rolled out a new fitness program, designed to get recruits in shape. The new fitness regime has incorporated exercises from yoga and pilates, and is de-emphasizing old staples of Army physical training, like long runs and sit-ups. The new program is in use at five training posts, and has 145,000 participants.
Another of the program’s goals is to reduce the number of injuries related to unfit recruits being unprepared to take on strenuous activity. The new program has participants stretching more and increases in difficulty more gradually. It also begins with more core strengthening. “It’s more whole body,” said First Lt. Tameeka Hayes, a platoon leader for a class of new privates at Fort Jackson. “No one who has done this routine says we’ve made it easier.”