Gimme some…PT…good for you…good for me
It’s good to be back on a similar time table (i.e. zone) as the majority of the readers (sorry to any New Zealanders out there…of course you’re about to hit summertime, so I’m all screwy with the “sync-ing” business).
These past few days have been very easy. The Army asks a lot from its troops, but they know how to let kids unwind a bit before the next go ’round. All that’s scheduled through the day are some quick classes. Then we’re to be released in the afternoons to get stuff updated, renewed and all that crap.
We have had PT in the mornings–have to get used to regular morning workouts again, I was always an evening cat back in Iraq.
Around 0630-ish, we stand in formation in a field, between two sets of barracks buildings. The grass is nothing more than worn patches of dry stubble–rubbed away from countless formations and exercises by thousands of troops.
I say 0630-ish because you can never be quite sure the damn morning reveille will sound. It’s barely audible, piped through speakers half the post away. Within the envelope of time we think it may go off–30, 31 or 35 after, we’ll stop any shenanigans and go to “parade rest,” which is a more formal form of “at ease”–both involving standing with your feet a shoulder’s width apart, hands clasped behind your back. Parade rest just means eyes front with no heads moving around.
After a few silent minutes with just you and the morning weather (hopefully dry, hopefully not damned cold!), the sound of bugle will insipidly give us a whisper, and we’ll hold our salute in the general direction of the post colors until the tune abates.
Then, as is our tradition, we will sing the 4th Infantry Division march–a jocular tune which is inexorably mangled and shredded by the 200-some-odd of us who fire off keys and pitches like a shotgun blast. After that, top will give us his “sounds like crap” side comment, and we’ll launch into the Army Song, where we’ll repeat the same harmonies, but with much more volume–meaning more motivation, which excuses the actual sounding like crap part. The Army’s good for that–take a crap on a piece of paper for a situation report, but sound damn motivated during PT and you’re a Gump among men.
For dessert, some poor sap is picked from a random platoon called out by top (our first sergeant…sorry, forgot to explain that one) to lead us in reciting the Soldier’s Creed–a fine little “attaboy” poem when rattled off in its entirety, but one that is drawn out like Oliver Stone’s “Alexander” in a “you say two words, then we say those two words; repeat until bleeding ears ensues” sort of way.
Then, friends…THEN we can start to PT. The act itself can be covered in Army regulations, so I won’t go through all the little rituals and steps, but great pains are made to ensure the maximum number of patrons is involved so as to nullify the actual “working out” portion of the workout. Can’t overdo things for the fat-bodies, can’t let the high-PTers do their own thing–that would split up the unit. I’m told that if I want more of a workout, I have to do it on my own.
So I push myself and max my PT standards…and instead of using the morning “PT time” to maintain that level, I get to almost break a sweat, waste two hours, and plan on investing a chunk of my evenings in the gym?
Yeah, that’s pretty much how things work in the military. That’s why they tell you to always blend in to the background and never do anything innovative or extraordinary.
And I’ve learned my lesson. See, if I complain about not getting a workout, they’ll put me in charge of leading the morning formation, which leaves you just slightly more toned, as you’re the one yelling commands during the 25 daily pushups, instead of whispering “this sucks” to the guy next to you.
But it is damn good to be back, regardless!