RICHMOND, Va. — For Virginia National Guard master fitness trainer, Capt. Wilfred Hale, fitness first became a priority back in grade school. He started to put on a little extra weight, he said, so joined an after-school running club. Not only did he see physical benefits from the increased activity, but he found he really enjoyed running.
“Fast forward 30 years and I have kept that same sense of need to stay fit and healthy,” Hale explained. He’s the medical operations officer for the 429th Brigade Support Battalion and, on the civilian side, he works as a personal trainer and encourages his clients to know themselves and cater their fitness goals accordingly. They change, he said, and evolve over time. “There will be a moment when Father Time will catch up to you and your ability to powerlift will diminish or the capacity to run 100 miles a week will be something of the past.”
Knowing yourself and setting realistic goals is key, he said, along with understanding that capabilities and goals change over time.
Today, he focuses on maintaining his physical and mental health, balancing strength training with endurance work and cross-training while striving to find a solid balance of doing what he likes while also pushing himself do the work he doesn’t enjoy as much.
“During this isolation time, I’m staying fit by following a pretty loose workout regime,” Hale said, explaining that he’s lucky to have a variety of free weights in his garage that he uses to maintain his fitness level. Usually, he follows a more structured plan, but with COVID-19 shut-downs, he said he’s allowing himself a little more flexibility amid so much uncertainty.
“Some days I feel driven to pull two-a-days by doing strength in the morning and endurance in the evening or vice versa,” he said. “The next day, I might take off just to keep that mental balance in check.”
Nutrition, too, is a key component of fitness. Being fit isn’t as simple as just showing up to the gym to do the work, and Hale said many people don’t realize the nutritional work that goes into getting six-pack abs. In order to achieve those sorts of goals, Hale said, you have to really like what goes into achieving those results and also understand the long term dedication to maintaining those results.
“The average gym goer doesn’t understand how strict a diet must be to look like a fitness model,” Hale said. “You must understand that changes will have to be made that involve forgoing foods that will hinder the progress of your goals.”
Ultimately, fitness is a journey. Hale said it’s easy to start the process toward a healthier lifestyle, but hard to maintain it.
“The goal should be to reverse that mentality because once you get past the beginning of your journey, you will never stress about trying to figure out the fitness game,” said Hale. He recommends Soldiers find what works for them and just keep doing that, and encourages Soldiers looking for support or guidance on their personal fitness journeys to reach out to Virginia National Guard master fitness trainers.
“Soldiers can benefit from an MFT in receiving detailed information in regards to programming and exercise selection,” Hale explained, stating that a plan is what helps people achieve their fitness goals.