Never settle: back 2 basics and instructor strive for excellence

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Newman
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
For eight weeks, Monday through Friday, shouts of encouragement and clapping can be heard echoing from the basketball courts inside Shellbank Fitness Center at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. No, these are not the sounds of a sporting event, but rather an intense physical training session called "Back 2 Basics."

Back 2 Basics is a fitness improvement program aimed at assisting U.S. Air Force Airmen with 80% or lower on their annual Air Force physical fitness assessments. Workouts range from running, interval training, speed and agility and body weight exercises.

"If [the Air Force] can take brand new kids off the street, and put them through [basic military training] for eight weeks and get them fit for duty, why can't we take active duty Service members that need assistance, [give them] some guidance and structure in their fitness abilities and take them through an eight-week class," said Staff Sgt. Cristina Sullivan, 633rd Force Support Squadron Back 2 Basics lead instructor. "We keep participants accountable and get them back up to standards."

Sullivan was a member of the team that initiated the B2B program between 2010 and 2011. The team had many ideas for the program, ultimately deciding to return to the basics.

"We came up with the name Back 2 Basics because it's back to [BMT]," said Sullivan. "We wanted a way to get people better in all three areas of their PT test, including the waist measurement."

Sullivan said it is not only beneficial to help improve fitness, but address the root of the problem. To help with wait measurements, instructors started incorporating health promotions like nutrition education and habit-change.

"We try to help [participants] understand that we are getting them the tools, but it takes them," said Sullivan. "This is a lifestyle change, not just a temporary diet or fitness regimen."

Since its origination, Sullivan said the program has evolved into something more.
"B2B has become more functional [since it started]. Instead of strict BMT workouts, we have incorporated more functional fitness and movement workouts," said Sullivan. "We have three cardio intense days with interval short and long distance training, and running for endurance. The other two days we work on strength, movement and agility to increase members' strength and ability to perform push-ups and sit-ups for PT tests."

Workouts include as many repetitions as possible exercises, metabolic conditioning, tabatta, circuits, calisthenics and every minute on the minute exercises, Sullivan added.

Sullivan finds personal satisfaction in helping Airmen become healthier.
"I have a passion for fitness, I truly love it," said Sullivan. "I love helping people and I like people that want to get better."

Being athletic and into fitness has come natural for Sullivan, who used to go the gym as a little girl with her father.

"Once I joined the Air Force and began working in fitness centers, I was fortunate to be sent to great trainings and even become a certified personal trainer," said Sullivan. "I fell in love with the knowledge of how the body worked and the muscle functions. I find it amazing what our bodies can do when we push them past what we think is their limits."

The desire to help others comes from Sullivan wanting to try and be the best she can be every day.

"If I can give someone knowledge that can be used to better themselves and so they can do it on their own and be motivated, then I know I have done my job," she added. "I have 'Never Settle' tattooed on my arm because I never want to settle for something mediocre if I know I can do better."

As the B2B program has changed over the years, the outcome of the course has remained the same, according to Sullivan, it's an effective program.

"It is part of our job to be fit to fight," said Sullivan. "Some people just need a little more structure, attention and a good push."