By SGT Volkin
As someone who has coached thousands of military recruits prepare for military basic training, I have found that the hardest part of getting in shape isn’t the actual workout itself; it is finding time to do the workout. Any manager of any gym will tell you that the majority of people who sign up for a gym membership rarely return after 6 weeks. There are many reasons for starting a workout routine then have it fizzle after just a few weeks. Most people will tell you it is a time constraint to go to the gym. I find that to simply be an excuse though. In today’s society we are all busy; most of us have jobs, a family, pets and other responsibilities. There are three main tips I can offer you that, if followed, will guarantee that you will stick to your next fitness regimen.
1) Make it a Priority
The reason you don’t stick to a fitness plan is because it is not a priority for you. What if I told you that every time you go to the gym you extend your life on this planet? What if I told you every time you go to the gym you will feel better, look better and act more confident. Those reasons alone should get you to turn off the latest Jersey Shore episode and drive to the gym. I would recommend writing down your daily priorities and see where the aforementioned benefits rank in importance.
2) Make a Time
This tip is simple and can be hard on your wallet if broken. Simply make a time that you will go to the gym. You shouldn’t do this day-by-day or even week-by-week. Monday through Friday you should commit to being at the gym the same time every day, your weekend times can be different. No, you don’t have to work out every day, but you should schedule a time every single day whether you plan on hitting the gym or not. Why? Because sometimes the unexpected happens and even if you plan on going to the gym, you just can’t make it. So if your current regimen calls for a Monday, Wednesday and Friday workout and you missed Wednesdays workout, don’t worry, you have already scheduled yourself for the gym on Thursday.
3) Have a Plan
Many times I see people at the gym with a notebook and pen, logging every set they perform. This is not only motivational, because it will chart your improvement, but logging your progress via a workout plan has been proven to increase the chances you will see that plan through to the end.
4) Grab a Buddy
Having a workout partner is beneficial on so many levels, especially when trying to stick to a workout regimen. Perhaps a coworker can meet you before or after work, or a spouse or family member has the same fitness goals as you. Whatever the case, working out together will force you to show up for your gym appointments more because you don’t want to let your buddy down.
I hope the above tips will help you be happier and healthier than ever before.
SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, which helps recruits prepare for military basic training. If you, or anyone you know, is about to join the military, check out www.UltimateBasicTraining.com
By SGT Volkin
In my book, The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook (www.UltimateBasicTraining.com), I discuss many tactics drill sergeants use to exhaust a recruit mentally and physically. This is the final installment of a three part article that describes some of these common tactics and how to overcome such obstacles. The story below is true.
Finally, graduation day was tomorrow. The last task for us recruits was to thoroughly clean our gear. This task shouldn’t be a problem since I am a clean person by nature and have been maintaining my gear throughout the entire basic training cycle. The drill sergeants have good knowledge of who the “squared away” soldiers are and who needs the most help with their gear. One night our drill sergeant called a meeting and had us bring all our gear. “Privates” he said sternly “Tomorrow you will turn in your gear, which has to be spotless. If your gear is not spotless, you will not graduate”. The drill sergeant then began to pair the recruits. After the recruits were paired, the drill sergeant shouted “Ok Privates, switch gears with your partner”. Oh no I thought, my partner is the messiest disorganized person I have ever seen. Looking around the room, I noticed the drill sergeant intentionally paired up the squared away recruits with the recruits who were, let’s just say, less than perfect. The drill sergeant continued “You must clean your partners gear to a spotless shine by tomorrow or you will not graduate”. All this time I have been worried about my gear, for nothing. I had about 30 emotions running through my body ranging from utter disgust to fear of not being with everyone else at graduation day. As I looked down at my now muddy sweat filled gear I realized that instead of spending the last couple months worried about myself, I should have been double checking my battle buddies gear too.
So, what is the lesson learned? When you go through basic training, keep an eye out for yourself and your battle buddies. Needless to say the recruit in this story did graduate with everyone else, but with much more work than anticipated.
Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook. His book is available at www.UltimateBasicTraining.com and is available in paperback, e-book and audio-book format. Get ready for the all new Ultimate Interactive Basic Training Workbook!
By SGT Volkin
The Top 5 Secret Items to Bring with You to Basic Training
Before leaving for boot camp, you will be confused about what to bring with you and what to leave at home. In fact, recruits e-mail me asking this question more than any other. Therefore, I have assembled the top 5 items you don’t want to leave for basic training without.
Top 5 Secret Items to Bring with You to Basic Training:
5) Foot Powder
Your feet will be spending a lot of time in combat boots. During that time, they will be very susceptible to fungus, blisters and other uncomfortable foot problems. Using foot powder will reduce your chances of obtaining these symptoms. However, no matter how much foot powder you use, if you make it through basic training without getting a blister, I would be very surprised.
4) Cheap Watch
I have heard that some recruits aren’t allowed to wear watches and some are. I suppose the choice is up to your drill sergeant. In either case, be sure to bring an inexpensive plain black digital watch. A digital watch is always nice to have when you are running and they also make great personal alarm clocks. I find that waking up at 4:00 am on your own is a bit difficult. Of course you should also bring a watch that tells military time.
3) Combo Locks
In boot camp you are going to get a wall or foot locker. You need to always make sure that locker is secure because you are responsible for each item inside. Having a lock with a key is just another item to have to keep track of. Therefore, get a combo lock and remember if your not getting an item out of your locker, it should always be locked.
2) Phone Cards
Of course bringing phone cards to basic training is a necessity, but here is a little tip: test out the phone cards before you leave. The card where the operator talks the least is the one you need to buy (regardless of the cost). You will get a limited amount of time to talk on the phone; you don’t want to waste that time with an operator giving you instructions on how to dial a phone number.
1) Black Marker
If you could only bring one item to boot camp, this should be it. No, you don&rsquo;t need a marker to draw mustaches on your fellow recruits when they sleep. You need a marker to initial and label everything you own. Having a marker with you will ensure that nothing you own accidentally turns up missing. You will also make a few friends because recruits who did not bring a marker with them will want to borrow yours. As I mention in my book several times, you can never have too many friends at basic training.
SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook: Tips, Tricks and Tactics for Surviving Boot Camp, available at www.UltimateBasicTraining.com
By SGT Volkin
Think Fast- Stories from Iraq-What Would You Do
[DON'T GO TO BASIC TRAINING IN THE US MILITARY UNPREPARED, BUY THE ULTIMATE BASIC TRAINING GUIDEBOOK AT UltimateBasicTraining.com]. “It will be the best $18 you ever spent!”
The purpose of this article is for the people to understand the quick decisions that soldiers need to make on a daily basis. These stories are true, but names and places have been changed to protect the identity of individuals. A good exercise would be to discuss these stories with fellow soldiers, so you can brainstorm ideas and thoughts. Should you have a true story that required a quick decision, please send the story to the contact information at the end of this article.
Setting: Overseas mission in a combat zone. This story was submitted by a sergeant carrying out duties as a military policeman (written in the first person).
I was working security at a front gate of a military base. A civilian convoy working for military personnel was entering the base. These convoys frequently drive night and day, with minimal stops, to make it to their destination safely. One of the trucks stopped at the front gate to ask one of my soldiers for water. One of the MPs from another company who was leading the convoy the past few days was standing outside his parked vehicle a few feet from the gate. He immediately recognized the trucker who was asking for water. The MP stormed over to the driver’s side of the truck and began swearing at him. The trucker, who understood some English, starting yelling back. The MP was upset that the trucker was falling asleep at the wheel the past couple days. Apparently, they got shot at a couple times in the night when the MPs had to stop the convoy and wake the trucker up. The MP was not impressed that the trucker was yelling back. The trucker was equally upset saying that the MPs didn’t let them sleep for 2 days, that is why he kept falling asleep at the wheel. The MP, who has already lost all military bearing with his words, took his 9-millimeter pistol out of his holster, cocked it back, and pointed it in the truckers face. At this point, me and my fellow soldiers didn’t want to touch the MP, if we tried to touch him, the trigger might have been pulled and we would have had a bloody mess. We tried yelling at the MP, but he was solely focus on the trucker, incoherent to the people around him. The trucker remained in his truck and continued to yell at the MP, not making any forward advances or threats.
If you were the sergeant in charge, what would you do to dissolve this situation?
Situation #2: Southern Iraq, October 2003
It was about 1630 and I was manning a checkpoint about 10 miles outside our base. I had one other soldier with me, who has been studying the Arabic language for several months out of a couple books he purchased. A civilian truck comes down the off ramp by our checkpoint and pulls off to the side of the road. Two guys get out, we cautiously approach, and they frantically shake our hands. We could tell something was wrong, they were very jittery and their eyes were bugging out of their heads. They didn’t speak a word of English. They started yelling “Ali Baba, Ali Baba!” and made a gun signal with their hand. Ali Baba is a common term used by Middle Eastern civilians. The term comes from a folktale called Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In short, Ali Baba means “a bad man”. Through his novice understanding of the Arabic language, my battle buddy managed to get out of them that two vehicles, a white Chevy Caprice and a gray Mercedes, tried to run them off the road and fired a gun at them. One of the men was bleeding on the arm and needed medical attention. I called headquarters on the singar radio and requested immediate medical support.
The shooter is still on the highway between our checkpoints. They have two exits; one exit is through our other manned checkpoint and the other exit leads away from town. Besides my partner, and myself I had four other personnel at my disposal (2 teams of 2 personnel) and two vehicles. One of the teams was guarding the checkpoint and the other team was roving the highway.
What would you do? Would you consolidate your roving vehicle to double up your personnel at one of the checkpoints? If so, which one? Or, would you keep that roving element on the highway to search for the shooter by themselves?
Discuss these situations in the forum, I bet you will be surprised at some of the answers.
SGT Michael Volkin is the author of The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook, available in both paperback and e-book format at www.ultimatebasictrainingguidebook.com.