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New Pentagon Channel Show Helps Make Troops ‘Fit for Duty’

By David Mays
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2007 – Hosts of a new show coming to the Pentagon Channel want to make troops hurt. They want to make them sweat. They want to push servicemembers’ limits. Above all, they want to ensure members of the U.S. military are “Fit for Duty.”

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"Fit for Duty" instructors perform exercises during the show's production on Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Courtesy photo.
  

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“Fitness is as much a part of the military as the uniform,” said retired Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Langdon, who serves as the Pentagon Channel’s director of operations and programming as well as executive producer of “Fit for Duty.”

“All the services go to great lengths to entice their troops to stay fit,” Langdon said. “We wanted to help too.”

“Fit for Duty” takes viewers through a high-energy 30-minute workout led by servicemembers with expertise in fitness training. The show makes it simple to follow along and complete exercises demonstrated by the instructors. A military sports medicine physician also offers tips for preventing injuries and avoiding career-ending accidents during each episode of the show.

Fitness instructors on the show represent each branch of the military and were selected after a nation-wide call for auditions was launched through advertisement on the Pentagon Channel’s Web site, e-mails to public affairs officers across the country, and word of mouth with the goal of appealing to a military audience.

“We hope they'll identify with our hosts and join us for a daily workout,” Langdon said.

“I thought it sounded like fun and a good idea because it isn't built around just one service or one absolute fitness nut,” said Marine Corps Sgt. Clint Reynolds, a martial arts instructor selected for the show. “I feel fitness should be part of everyone's life. Now I am not saying you have to run a billion miles every week, live off of grass and bark or anything, but you should keep yourself healthy so that you feel better physically and emotionally, live longer, and enjoy life more.”

In developing exercise routines for the show, Reynolds faced some hurdles. “The most challenging part (was) trying to come up with routines that will keep someone motivated and is actually enjoyable to do, and is able to be watched and done in less than 30 minutes,” he said. “I hope that it will show that there are many different ways of working out and staying fit and that it will make my own fitness better.”

“I enjoy working out,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Sandifer Temeria, another “Fit for Duty” instructor. “I also like helping individuals obtain their personal goals in fitness, but I tell them all that it starts with them and positive attitude. Fitness only works when you're having fun, and enjoy what you're doing.”

“The Pentagon Channel realizes the need to provide programming that entices our audience to watch,” Langdon said. “If you're into fitness, you'll not only improve some exercise techniques, you'll learn some valuable information about your military rights and benefits during our spot breaks -- two good reasons to watch.”

“I hope that servicemembers and civilians alike watch the show so they can see all the services in action and the difference between them all, but in the same light see that regardless of those differences we are working as one team to make sure we are up to the challenge to protecting our great nation,” Reynolds said.

Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Dave Keblish, an orthopedic surgeon and head of sports medicine at the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, Md., hosts a “Fit for Duty” segment called “Train Smart Stay Strong” that teaches servicemembers highly effective methods to prevent career-ending injuries.

“I tend to think of fitness as having three main pillars: aerobic conditioning, flexibility and strength,” said Keblish, who believes proper fitness workout habits learned early in a military career are paramount.

“If more servicemembers looked at fitness this way and learned a bit more about avoiding common orthopedic injuries, I feel we would have a healthier and less disabled work force,” he added. “I have counseled many active-duty members about the severity of their condition after it was too late. There is much truth in the old saying that ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’”

But much like the instructors on “Fit for Duty,” servicemembers shouldn’t expect the doctor to go easy on slackers.

“I am tired of the cliché of the washed-up sports jock with a dozen aches and pains from old sports injuries and surgeries,” Keblish said. “I was a stoic athlete myself, and I don't relate well to patients who are too lazy to get in shape or too whiny to endure a bit of pain along the way. However, I strongly believe that we work hard, we play hard, and when we're injured we need to rest hard.”

“Fit for Duty” is one of the most technically challenging productions the Pentagon Channel has undertaken. A crew of 10 set up an elaborate field studio at Bolling Air Force Base, in Washington, D.C., to shoot the first dozen shows over a hectic three-day shoot schedule. In the future, “Fit for Duty” producers hope to take the show to military installations across the country and around the world.

“The Pentagon Channel is breaking new ground with this original program,” Langdon said. “Our channel has many news and information programs, but this is the first interactive program.”

“Fit for Duty” is just one of many lifestyle shows the Pentagon Channel plans to present soon. An upcoming military cooking show, “Combat Kitchen,” will introduce viewers to the “Grill Sergeant” who will “get you locked and loaded with some tasty meals,” Langdon said. “We will continue to develop programming deserving of those who keep and protect our freedom.”

“Fit for Duty” debuts June 18 on the Pentagon Channel. It will also be available via podcast and video on demand. For complete program schedule, check www.pentagonchannel.mil.

(David Mays works for the Pentagon Channel.)

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The Pentagon Channel

Click photo for screen-resolution imageA Pentagon Channel crew prepares for a day's shoot of "Fit for Duty" recently on Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C. Courtesy photo  
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