'The Platoon that PTs Together, Stays Together': How Military Fitness Changed My Life

Students from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Class 288 participate in physical training during First Phase training.
Students from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Class 288 participate in physical training during First Phase training at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, California, April 11, 2011. (Kyle Gahlau/U.S. Navy photo)

Tyler, the 15-year-old son of a friend of mine, asked me a question for a school project: "How has military fitness changed/affected your life?" Leave it to the next generation to come up with the best questions. Tyler, this is for you, pal.

The short answer is that military fitness shaped who I am today, and I don't just mean literally regarding my appearance. I mean my attitude, which is a factor of 10 times more important than anything else in life. In SEAL team training, before we fired a single shot at a range, pulled a grenade pin, jumped from a plane or swam out of a submarine, our instructors reminded us repeatedly that those privileges -- and, yes, those are privileges -- are reserved for a chosen few.

They have proven they have the weapon's platform not only to handle these tasks but also excel at them under the most adverse conditions. The weapon's platform to which the instructors are referring is our body. Anyone can complete the aforementioned tasks, but can they excel at them when the chips are not in your favor? The difference is not just having a body that is up to the physical punishment of these tasks, but they can think under pressure, and their attitude will not waver during tough times.

That's what "military" fitness has done for me. It's taught me a critical relationship. The body obeys the brain, not the other way around. (Incidentally, this was not learned overnight. It actually was learned through many sleepless nights. Thank you, Hell Week instructors, among many others.)

Once you learn that you are in charge of your body -- your weapon's platform -- then you've just increased your chances at mission success. It's not about how fancy your gear is. It's about knowing your capabilities and knowing that limitations are set by you, not by anyone else.

Military fitness is the cornerstone of SEAL team, so much so that platoons use a slogan daily to remind everyone why we conduct physical training: "The platoon that PTs together, stays together." The point is that the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

Military fitness is what drives me today to build Perfect Fitness, because you don't need to go through SEAL training or, for that matter, any military training to benefit from military fitness. You see, there are only three things in life you can control: your brain, body and attitude. (I'm assuming you're lucky enough to control your brain and body; i.e., not mentally or physically impaired).

Learn to control these three things and you'll possess the tools to define your life. It won't happen overnight, but every moment you're learning to take control of your body by getting fit is a moment you're succeeding. This success, which is hard-fought and takes time, will permeate through other elements of your life.

Stick with it, and you'll find your attitude improves, your brain functions better and your body has more energy and is better conditioned to be what I call your Life Experience Vehicle. Your experiences in life are directly dependent on how conditioned your body is to experience whatever it is you choose to experience.

So whether you choose to experience SEAL training, bagging a 14,000-foot mountain peak or SCUBA diving with whale sharks, knocking out some Perfect Pushups is a great way to start learning how to take control of your body. Do this, and I promise that you'll have the tools to take control of your life.



Alden Mills, creator of the Perfect Pushup, is CEO of Perfect Fitness. He went to the Naval Academy and later became a Navy SEAL. After retiring in 2000, he earned his MBA at Carnegie Mellon. His ultimate mission is to inspire everyone to pursue their own dreams. For more from Mills, check out www.perfectonline.com.

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