403rd LRS stays social while distancing

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kristen Pittman
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Back in the old days – five months ago, before COVID-19, nobody thought twice about going to the gym, or doing a high-intensity interval training workout with 15 of their closest wingmen, or just … working in the office with the rest of their shop.

The pandemic has taken its toll on normalcy in every facet, and in an Air Force Reserve Command unit, where the sparse, monthly interactions already make camaraderie and togetherness a harder to achieve task, teleworking and “social distancing” have presented a new hurdle.

The 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations shop at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, rose up to the challenge.

From the squadron commander to the Airman ranks, the unit agreed that they needed a way to get together despite it being physically impossible during virtual Unit Training Assemblies. The unit members agreed physical fitness is obviously important to all military members, but how could they have a physical training session spread out across different states?

Ever heard of that little video chatroom service called Zoom?

Senior Airman Oliver Polk, a vehicle operations member of the 403rd LRS, took the reins and agreed to the additional duty of Zoom operations by setting up and dispatching meeting details for the unit to exercise together.

“The shop was already pretty good at communicating and staying in touch, but this helped,” he said.

Polk said a group PT session, whether virtual or in-person, is a great way for any unit to maintain a sense of camaraderie and stay fit to fight.

While Polk was behind the technical setup, fellow 403rd LRS vehicle operator Tech. Sgt. Joshua Cummings drove the virtual workout.

Cummings said that when he was deployed in 2019 he and his wingmen needed something to do during downtime so they started doing group PT together. He would run the HIIT and ab portions he learned from someone in the deployed location.

Fast-forward a year and a half, and his fellow shop members needed a way to come together and be productive during telework UTAs.

“I think everybody enjoyed [the workouts],” said Cummings. “We worked out early in the mornings, and everybody brought a lot of energy. I think it helped because a lot of times it’s hard to want to get up and exercise but when you have everybody doing it and we’re all on Zoom seeing each other, cracking jokes, and motivating each other, it does a lot for morale.”

While things, very gradually, get back to normal and UTAs are leveraging virtual options, both Cummings and Polk agree the workouts bolstered the already solid morale of the shop. They plan to get back to their regularly scheduled squadron workouts together during their annual tour duty.