ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait --
It’s common to think of military members and envision a war fighter–a person who is strong and mighty, courageous and unyielding. Media illustrates the grit and brawn in the preliminary physical training that members go through, yet annually, military members must test to ensure that their physical fitness stays up to date.
While there are many programs to ensure service members are healthy in all aspects of fitness–known as comprehensive airman fitness–it can become a balancing act to find time to set aside for exercise, especially during high tempo operations. Yet in a deployed environment, one Airman is not only taking the time to stay fit, but to also help others in their fitness journey.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Armana Reid, with the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, became invested in fitness during COVID-19. In a time where much of the population had to stay home, and potentially be more stationary, she felt the need to stay active and taught herself how to lift heavy weights through videos and reaching out to experienced lifters.
“Ever since that day, I started and I never stopped,” said Reid. “After I got really confident within the gym, I became a physical training leader for my squadron and led PT twice a week. I also got to work with other people one on one that are struggling with their PT tests.”
When she arrived at Ali Al Salem Air Base, she joined a diversity and inclusion organization and led a high intensity interval training event as a way to bring service members into the group. With such a high turnout, she saw an opportunity to make it a recurring event, partnering with the Flex Fitness Center on base.
One of the employees of the gym, a contractor who is certified in physical fitness, noted that while military members typically do not teach classes, he felt the energy Reid brought and the time she was willing to volunteer to motivate fitness was a beneficial addition to the gym’s programs. As the Air Force does not have a job devoted to personal training or kinesiology, and it is more of a secondary duty, the certified instructors stood by during the class to ensure everything ran smoothly.
While everyone in the Air Force has a duty to maintain physical, mental, social, and spiritual well-being - the four tenets of comprehensive airman fitness–it is not a requirement to teach and push others to uphold those standards.
“[I wanted to coach this class because] at a point in time, I was there, and I didn't know what to do,” said Reid. “So I know there's people that want to work out but they just don't know where to start.”
One of the participants, 1st Lt. Juawana Stringer, with the 386th Expeditionary Medical Group, usually works out in her room, but Reid’s enthusiasm is what incentivized her to take her HIIT class.
“I've burned so many calories,” said Stringer. “She sent out the message in our group and told us about the class. I’m exhausted [from the session].”
“We are held to a standard where [being physically fit] is expected of us,” said Reid. “Anything can happen and we have to be ready.”
When enlisting in the Air Force, we are all taught about the core values of integrity, service, and excellence. While volunteering her free time during the deployment to share her knowledge and motivation in staying fit to fight, Reid has truly exemplified these values and shown how strength and determination can become an inspiration for others.