Military Matters: Staying in shape at sea

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NORFOLK, Va. (WTOK) - With over 50 fitness classes, seven gyms and cardio equipment placed in every available corner, the USS Harry S. Truman has made it clear: the fitness and wellness of its sailors is a top priority.

Personal trainer and Navy veteran, Fred Clemmons – or the ship’s “Fit Boss” – oversees the athletic programs on board.

“The Navy’s overall mantra is ‘fitness for life.’ So that’s what we have for a navy umbrella – fitness for life, Clemmons said. “But here on board the Truman, we like to think that we’re building a culture of fitness.”

The opportunities on board include group instruction such as yoga, spin, HIIT and kettlebell in addition to weight training and cardiovascular exercise. The classes provide sailors with an outlet that not only reduces stress and improves wellness, but provides a release from the daily grind of work. Trillshun Bacon is an air transportation officer on board and spends part of his free time in the weight room.

“I think fitness is actually, like should be a way of life – it’s my way of life,” Bacon said. “Especially when we’re on the ship everyday all day…I always tell people you get into a routine, a fitness routine, it will make the day go by faster.”

Bacon notes Fit Boss has helped sailors in living healthier lifestyles and will instruct on proper form in his classes without being intimidating.

“Fit Boss is a great, great instructor,” Bacon said. “He’s doing a great job on the ship. I mean when I tell you that he’s really, he’s really changing people’s lives. But if you take one of his classes, I’m telling you, you’ll be drenched with sweat all that. And he make you want to come back.”

Although Fit Boss studied homeland security, he says his true passion is fitness.

“I do a lot because I want to do a lot,” Clemmons said. “This is my passion. I just think it’s extraordinary that we have the chain of command that supports us in order to do this fitness opportunities every day, you know, for this crew.”

An inherent challenge with providing enough exercise opportunities for the 5,000 plus sailors aboard boils down to a lack of room. However, the solution lies in being both efficient and strategic with workout equipment.

“What we have done is we have utilized spaces that’s not normally there for working out so we took different pieces of cardio equipment that we’re sticking in the hanger bay – we’re sticking in different passageways,” said Clemmons. “We try to utilize the space if we have in order to put that fitness equipment to accommodate the masses that we have.”

Staying active onboard has physical and mental health benefits and it’s something sailors can pick up at home, or, aboard the Truman, anywhere in the world.

“We do fitness here just like, you know, everybody else would do back, back at home.”

The Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman was named after the 33rd President of the United States and was commissioned on July 25th, 1998.