Meet Ellen, a former Navy Fit Boss

Ellen runs a fitness challenge for Sailors aboard CARL VINSON

I had the pleasure of sitting down with my friend Ellen this past week to talk about her personal training philosophy and to gather some tips on staying fit while in the military and while on deployment. I met Ellen briefly while she was the “Fit Boss” aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) – Ellen and I overlapped for about a year on CARL VINSON. Ellen is a civilian Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, and she was hired by the Navy to work aboard an Aircraft Carrier for two years in order to run all fitness programs for the crew. She even joined us for our six month deployment in 2017! Our paths crossed again recently when her husband and my husband were sent to the same Explosive Ordnance Disposal platoon – it’s a small world and the military makes it even smaller! It has been really fun for me to reconnect with Ellen, and every time I meet with her or workout with her, I am always inspired to not only work out harder but to work out smarter. I am excited that Ellen has plans to create her own website in order to share her expertise with others – I definitely plan to include her website under the “Resources” tab, once it is up and running. In the meanwhile, here are a couple of highlights from our discussion:

Ellen’s business brand:
-“Fitness for a purpose”
-“Helping Active Duty Military, Veterans, and First Responders achieve fitness and mobility solutions for peak occupational and human performance”
-Ellen is passionate about helping individuals minimize pain so that they are ready to perform. She wants her clients to always be ready for the “what if’s” in life and the worst case scenarios. Ellen works with clients that are motivated to achieve these goals, and she helps them refine technique and optimize their workouts through education.
-It is not just about what you look like. It is about truly achieving better overall fitness.

Ellen on preparing for deployment:
-Ellen encourages her active duty clients (especially those who will be deploying on ships or submarines) to, if possible, do some research and scope out what workout facilities will be available prior to actually leaving on deployment. This way, her clients can create a workout plan prior to leaving, and they will know what type of equipment, if any, that they need to bring in order to accomplish their desired workout goals.
-Set fitness goals for yourself prior to leaving for deployment. Create a daily checkoff list that will help you achieve these goals and post this somewhere that you will see every day while on deployment.
-Download and/or print out workouts and fitness plans prior to leaving. Ellen even suggests creating a binder for these workout materials.
-Plan ahead and pack lots of healthy snacks! Do not count on having access to these things while you are deployed.

Equipment that Ellen recommends you bring for deployment:
-yoga mat
-resistance bands of all sizes

Recommended websites where you can find good strength and conditioning workouts:

General advice that Ellen shared:
-The majority of people do not move well! If you are experiencing any pain, it should be a red flag.
-Gaining flexibility and mobility should always be one of your goals. Getting strong and gaining flexibility/mobility go hand-in-hand. Your workouts should be BALANCED.
-Strength and conditioning is really important! Getting strong will help your cardio but your cardio will not necessarily make you stronger.
-Every body is different – find out what you are good at. You will be more likely to stay consistent if you enjoy the type of workouts that you are doing.
-Be open to new things! Have you ever tried spin, yoga, or weight training? Find a solid program with a good instructor who focuses on technique and give it a try!

CARL VINSON Sailors pose with Ellen, sporting their “America’s Most Fit Carrier” t-shirts

My thoughts…
As military members we have to be ready at a moment’s notice to serve our nation. There are not only immense mental demands placed on us but also physical demands. In college, it often is easier to find workout buddies and get into a routine of making fitness a part of your daily life. However, once you commission and go on your first deployment, it becomes much harder to keep fitness as a priority. Plan ahead and find a way to hold yourself accountable! Hopefully the tools and tips that Ellen provided can help you achieve your fitness and mobility goals!

Post by Brynn Gray

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