Staff Sergeant Amanda Rose knows a thing or two about fitness. A volunteer firefighter, federal law enforcement agent and Master Fitness Trainer for the DC Army National Guard, Rose has dedicated her time to training soldiers on food and fitness.
Guns.com sat down with Rose, who also happens to be one of the Guns.com brand ambassadors, to get the scoop on the new Army Combat Fitness Test and how gun owners can also benefit from staying fit.
GDC: First off, how did fitness and a healthier way of living come into play for you?
Rose: When I was 17 I joined the New York Army National Guard with ambitions to go to Penn State for communication. During military training, I fell in love with it, so I deferred college and got picked up for my first deployment at Guantanamo Bay. There I learned I had a huge passion for fitness and nutrition. I spent a lot of time diving into it, reading about it and when I came back after deployment I decided I wanted to go to school for exercise science. I was recruiting for the military and would help people who were out of shape get physically ready to join the military.
GDC: So you did the military thing and then I understand you were a volunteer firefighter and federal law enforcement. Now you’re the Master Fitness Trainer for the DC Army National Guard helping prepare soldiers for the new Army Combat Fitness Test. What was the evolution of that?
Rose: Each state needed a project coordinator to train up and execute the new ACFT. I got called randomly one day to meet with leadership and they asked if I would be the coordinator for the District of Columbia. I had to make the choice between an overseas assignment or this Master Fitness Trainer position. I thought a lot about it and I loved the opportunity to directly impact I was going to have on soldiers. I love meeting soldiers. I love training soldiers. So it was pretty much a no brainer. I wanted to help pioneer this program. I started back at the end of February and been trucking along ever since.
GDC: What are some challenges you’ve faced as the Master Fitness Trainer?
Rose: One of the main challenges is education — informing soldiers of what the new Army Combat Fitness Test is and how important it is to their success and their future. Not just their careers, but it’s important to their own health and wellness. This new program indirectly forces people to live a better, healthier life. You have to make daily decision to be successful like choosing what to eat, getting enough sleep and doing the right exercises. You can’t just prepare 30 days out like with the old APFT. So the big challenge is getting soldiers motivated and inspired to live a better lifestyle.
GDC: So you mentioned the previous PT test, the APFT. For the civilians out there, can you break down what the key differences are between the old fitness test and the new one?
Rose: So the old test, the APFT, was three events — two minutes of push-ups, two minutes of sit-ups and a two-mile run. There were male and female standards and also age standards. The new test, the ACFT, is a six-event test and the standards are the same across the board. The only difference now is its MOS specific. Your scores are based off what you do in the Army with moderate, significant and heavy brackets. So if you’re in a career in a certain bracket your score could be a little lower than if you’re in a job with maybe a heavy MOS. You have to perform at a higher rate in that case but there’s no discrimination based on age or gender.
The test itself is six events designed to test your full body. There’s a three repetition maximum deadlift. There’s a standing power throw where you’re throwing a ball backwards over your head for distance. That is followed by a hand release push-up that basically, you start with an arm extension in which you bring your arms out like an airplane before bringing them back in and doing a push-up. Then there’s the sprint-drag-carry which is five 50 meter shuttles for time. In this one you sprint, drag a 90-pound slide and then do lateral sprints then carry two 40-pound kettle-balls down and back and then sprint again. That’s the real killer out of everything. After that, it’s a Leg Tuck that is essentially a pull-up on a bar but you have to bring your knees to your elbows. Then the ACFT finishes off with a 2-mile run.
GDC: That’s no joke but it sounds like the Army is encouraging fitness that directly correlates to the military life.
Rose: Yes. The military has been with working other organizations and scientists both within the military and outside to create events that relate directly to specific movements, tasks, jobs and responsibilities of military personnel. So for example, that kettlebell sprint is the application of a soldier being able to lift heavy loads across distances like carrying ammo cans or multiple weapon systems. A push-up didn’t really prepare you to do that right.
GDC: Do you think civilian gun owners would be wise to take some cues from the APFT and incorporate into their own routine?
Rose: Absolutely. The military has got the FM-22 which has our training program. It that there’s a ton of exercises that the training center has shown will increase readiness to perform the different events. Those exercises can help civilians increase strength and endurance.
GDC: Why is it important that gun owners or civilians take their wellness and health seriously?
Rose: You will see it come together when you’re out on the range and you’re moving and shooting, reacting to contact, in full gear and you’re exhausted that’s when you really see how your fitness, your health and your cardio endurance work together.
Also, you have to be disciplined if you’re a gun owner — from locking up guns if there are kids present to getting the right training. Fitness and a healthy lifestyle require the same type of discipline. You have to be disciplined to get up before work and go to the gym or exercise after a long day. It’s also about making healthy decisions in the kitchen and when you go out to eat. Be conscious in all areas of your life.
GDC: So basically what you’re saying is that like the gun lifestyle fitness is a lifestyle too. You don’t just buy a gun — you take a class, you train, you go to the range. You make decisions that ensure successful gun ownership. Same with fitness, you are exercising but also making good decisions about food, drinks, etc.
Rose: Yes, that’s a good way of putting it.
GDC: What about the gun owner reading this who wants to get fit, wants to do better health-wise but doesn’t know where to start? What advice do you have for him/her?
Rose: There is so much information online and in books. Go to your local library and check out some books. Get some free ones from Amazon. There are tons of trainer, myself included, who post workouts and information on social media or their personal webpages. If you’re a gun owner and you want to start making positive changes to your lifestyle you can find these resources.
The best thing to help you get committed is reach out to friends and family and find battle buddies who you can say, “Hey, let’s go workout before we go to the range or after we’re done at the range.” If you can shoot and train at the range when you’re already exhausted and tired or sore imagine how much better you’re going to perform when you’re at your optimal level.
For more information about SSG Amanda Rose check her out on Instagram.