DM athletes advocate for functional movement

  • Published
  • By Carolyn Herrick
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs
Many military members think of physical training with their semi-annual PT test in mind, which means exercise sessions designed around improving running, push-ups and sit-ups; but what a lot of people don’t think about is functional movement, longevity and the impact their physical fitness has on deployed operations.

A handful of Davis-Monthan fitness enthusiasts are training with those considerations in mind by using the Haeffner Fitness Center to do early-morning and after-work CrossFit workouts scaled to any level of ability.

“This program covers a little bit of everything,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Blake Jacob, base CrossFit coach. “We start everyone based on where they are today, and the goal is to get better than you were yesterday.”

Jacob used four combat deployments as examples of what functional movement means to him now as he described a time when the lead truck in his convoy hit a land mine, and the team had to hustle to pull an injured Airman out of the vehicle to safety.

“When you’re wearing a 45-pound vest on a convoy, you still have to be able to get where you need to be,” Jacob said. “That person is wearing a 45-pound vest plus the rest of their gear, so you’re talking about moving almost 300 pounds out of harm’s way.”

The Desert Lightning CrossFit gym has been here for years, but coaches and athletes have had a high turnover rate. In late 2020, Jacob and the team of coaches decided to try to grow the program by encouraging participation for anyone with gym access, from star athletes to people with physical disabilities.

“I have heard stories of people who have broken both legs but still do upper body workouts,” he said.
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Zach Thompson, 610th Command and Control Squadron cyber transport systems superintendent, is an Air Force Reservist who lives on base and enjoys training and sharing CrossFit with others. He has a 15-year history of participating in strength sports and agrees that CrossFit is a form of fitness accessible to everyone.

“We can bring anyone in here and scale any workout,” Thompson said. “Every person who comes in here is going to have something that challenges them and pushes them to the next level, but we can also do that safely and appropriately so that we aren’t pushing people into dangerous zones.”

Their goal is not only to see more people attending but also expand the number of classes, events and competitions; including weightlifting clinics, powerlifting and gymnastics.

“It may not be something you do every day of the week, but it is beneficial to come in and add to your workout routine a couple of times a week at least,” Thompson said.

Classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 am and 4:30 pm at the Haeffner Gym. They’re looking for more athletes and more coaches, no experience required. It’s free of charge and anyone with access can join. For more information, visit