Sgt. Dustin Surrell, a supply clerk for the Special Troops Battalion at the Ike Skelton Training Site, performs a flag at a park in Jefferson City. Surrell began a new workout program in January with his friend and personal trainer, Tony Sink. He works out four to seven days every week with a goal to keep improving and never plateau. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).
By Sarah E. Lupescu
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Staying physically fit is a priority throughout the military ranks. For Guardsmen, staying fit can sometimes be a challenge. Soldiers and Airmen have to balance civilian jobs, Families, school, and military obligations while still making time for regular workouts. One Missouri Guardsman has found a workout routine that works for him and his schedule.
Sgt. Dustin Surrell, a supply clerk for the Special Troops Battalion at the Ike Skelton Training Site, works out four to seven days a week. His reasoning for doing a regular workout is quite simple.
"I work out because it makes me feel better," Surrell said.
Surrell first tried doing Insanity for his physical training. Insanity is made up of ten workouts of maximum-intensity exercises with short periods of rest. During each workout, an individual can burn 1,000 calories in about an hour during the 60-day program.
"I did Insanity for a month, it's a two-month program," Surrell said. "It got to be too much. A majority of the time it is a 45 minute to an hour workout. After work, doing homework and Insanity, I didn't have much time for anything else."
After figuring out Insanity wasn't a good fit for him, Surrell met up with one of his friends and personal trainer, Tony Sink. The two started working out together in January. They meet twice a week for intense workout sessions at ISTS.
"It's more or less like CrossFit," Surrell said. "There's not really a set schedule or a set routine other than one day you'll do a lot more push exercises and the next day you'll do more pull to offset it a little bit. You just try and mix up the exercises from day to day."
CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program. It focuses on an individual's abilities at numerous physical activities. CrossFit can include aspects of weightlifting, gymnastics, running, rowing, biking, and swimming.
Variety is an emphasis in Surrell and Sink's routines.
"We do probably around 10 variations of a pushup," Surrell said. "Some of them include military and diamond pushups, pushups with several variations of claps in-between, switch grip pushups, we do a pushup and then lift an arm in the air while twisting up into a side plank. We also do a lot of burpees."
On push days, Surrell will push until his shoulders practically give out, he said.
Later in the week, to balance out the push day, Surrell and Sink will do a pull day.
"We do a lot of different pull ups," Surrell said. "And we do a lot of grip strength. We can take a set of 25 pound weights and hold each with only our finger tips and walk from one end of a room to the other."
There are several different variations of pull ups Surrell and Sink do. They lie down and pull their bodies up, normal pull ups, close grip, reverse grip, and wide arm pull ups, Surrell said.
Some days, Surrell and Sink will go to a local park and use the playground as their gym. They can use the monkey bars to perform various pull ups, they can climb up and across the swing set while using only their arms, and they can use some of the other bars on the playground to do flags. To pull off a flag, they find a vertical bar and, with straight arms, pull their body off the ground.
On other days, Surrell and Sink will incorporate martial arts training into their routine.
"I don't do very much running," Surrell said. "I get a lot of cardio from the workouts I'm already doing. I do a lot of martial arts and bag workouts with Tony and that's where I get a majority of my cardio from."
Martial arts is completely new to Surrell.
"You can get a really good workout from it," he said. "I can be doing it for a half hour and I'm spent. The next day I'll have sore muscles in places where I didn't even know I had muscles."
To start a rigorous workout routine and stick with it, takes a lot of self-motivation and dedication.
"I wanted to be able to do a physical fitness test at the drop of a hat and pass with no issues," Surrell said.
He took the APFT in June, six months after starting working out with Sink, and scored significantly higher than his previous test, Surrell said.
"My score was 47 points higher than the last PT test I took," Surrell said. "I was only 11 points from maxing the pushups and five from maxing the sit ups."
Once seeing results on paper, the motivation to keep going and to keep improving can sometimes be hard to come by.
"It's brutal during the workouts and sometimes I ask myself why I'm doing this," Surrell said.
For Surrell, the reason to keep going boils down to improving himself and motivating others.
"I really just want to continue to keep taking myself to the next level and ensure that I don't plateau," Surrell said. "I hope it encourages other people and gets them into it. I feed off of other people a lot. If they're having a good time with it and enjoying themselves regardless of how much it hurts, I'll put my body out there on the line and I'll do a whole bunch of extra crazy stuff just to keep them going and that keeps me going."
Staying physically fit is important for Guardsmen and other military members. For Surrell, it goes much further than that.
"Besides the PT requirement that everybody already knows, I think Guardsmen need to be physically fit," Surrell said. "You may not need it as much on drill weekends, but you may need it when you're at home. It's just going to improve your life mentally, physically, and emotionally. It does take a lot of emotional and mental push to drive through these exercises and routines, I think that helps make you more rounded and more prepared for something else later on that may have nothing to do with working out or the military at all."
Surrell and Sink have drawn interest from other Missouri Guardsmen. When asked about joining in on the workout sessions, Surrell has a small piece of advice.
"I tell them they have got to be ready for it and to be 100 percent dedicated," Surrell said. "It's not going to do any good for them or anybody else if their mind and their heart are not in the right place. You have to be dedicated because it is hard, it is tough, constantly. You've really got to be on the ball and really enjoy what you're doing, or it's not going to work."
Surrell has served with the Missouri Army National Guard for six years. He deployed to Kosovo from 2008 to 2009.
Surrell is supported in his military career by his wife, Ashley, and daughters, Grayse and Kailey.
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Sgt. Dustin Surrell, a supply clerk for the Special Troops Battalion at the Ike Skelton Training Site, climbs a swing set at a park in Jefferson City. Surrell began a new workout program in January with his friend and personal trainer, Tony Sink. He works out four to seven days every week with a goal to keep improving and never plateau. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).
Sgt. Dustin Surrell, a supply clerk for the Special Troops Battalion at the Ike Skelton Training Site, pulls himself up to and over the monkey bars at a park in Jefferson City. Surrell began a new workout program in January with his friend and personal trainer, Tony Sink. He works out four to seven days every week with a goal to keep improving and never plateau. (Photo by Sarah E. Lupescu, Missouri National Guard).