Soldier Changes Life Through Fitness


Stephanie and I get many testimonies daily from GX magazine and readers as a result of several years of providing fitness and health columns, videos, and audio workouts to Soldiers and their family members. Some testimonies 'stand out' and deserve to be shared with others because they may have an impact on you as much as they do on us.

The letter below is a superb example of something that stands out and we encourage you to provide full attention to every word. It includes a short story of a Soldier's life that clearly defines why we do what we do - to change lives through fitness! In the words of the 2LT that wrote the letter, "the culmination of improved fitness and health, for me, has also improved my life and my career." (See the full letter with 'before and after' photo below)  We hope that it will move you as much as it moved us!

SSG Weichert,

I am sure that your e-mail box is swamped everyday with tales of soldiers who have improved their fitness and over-all health for the better. However, the culmination of improved fitness and health, for me, has also improved my life and my career.

In 2007, I was at the peak of my weight gain. I weighed in at our PT test at my old unit, C Co 250th BSB in Jersey City, NJ, at 201 pounds and 49% body fat (that calculation seemed rather high to me, nonetheless, that's what the tape measure told my NCO). A few minutes prior, during the PT test, I could barely eek out 10 push-ups, 15 sit ups, and only managed to complete one lap around the track while running, and the rest I had to walk.

It was the moment of realization for me, that I had let myself go, and that I was the unhealthiest I have ever been in my life. In high school, I was a great athlete. I trained with a personal trainer, was 12% body fat, ran my mile in 6:10, and had hopes of playing Division 1 field hockey. When I transferred universities, my sports dreams didn't transfer with it, and I began to slack off heavily, especially after AIT. I took up smoking, ate too much, partied too much, and didn't put in half as much effort into my drill as I used to. As my health sank, I was also losing my desire to be a good soldier.

Even after that awful PT test, and my lack of overall effort, my commander still had hope in me. Major Mackenzie told me that I would make a good leader, if I could get it together. He allowed me to go to the Officer Candidate School Selection Board, and try to get into the program. I passed, barely, because my fitness was such a huge issue. But with that selection, I knew I had to get better.

I turned to all the resources I could find, one being your excerpts in Guard Experience. All your fitness and nutrition suggestions, tailored to those even at the lowest levels of fitness, helped me implement fitness into my daily life. I walked, then I ran, then I ran some more. I weight trained. I did your exercises as best I could.

In March 2008 I started OCS. What a wake-up call! I weighed in at 169, 31% body fat--a vast improvement, but I still needed more...the record APFT was only a few months away, and I needed to do well in order to ship to phase 1. So I took to the exercise routine with newfound urgency.

Thanks to help from your program, that May APFT was my BEST PT test ever. I did 45 push-ups, 70 sit ups, and ran my two-mile in 16:30. In a year, I dropped from 201 to 160, from barely being able to run a lap, to tapping into the 200s on my PT test.

I stuck to your programs ever since. On my last PT test during OCS, I was pushing out over 50 push-ups, over 70 sit-ups, and running my two-mile in 16 minutes. Had it not been for you and your wife's advice, I don't know if I would have graduated.

Now, I'm attached to the 150th Engineers, as a Second Lieutenant. Going from an overweight specialist, who couldn't care less about drill because of her weight and lack of fitness, to being a 2nd LT with desire to lead by example, is an amazing life change for me. (Oh and besides the fitness improvements, my overall attitude towards life has improved. I graduated with a 3.82 GPA from Rutgers University. When I started I had but a 2.7)

My cadre at OCS called me a motivation and an inspiring leader, and I am going to continue that at my new unit and throughout my new career.

Thanks for all your help SSG Ken and Stephanie Weichert! Your articles helped me improve my career, my health, and my life. I am grateful that the Guard Experience team continues to print all of your priceless fitness advice! I hope there are many more stories that come your way just like mine. You are truly changing lives!

P.S. I have attached some before and after photos, so you can see the improvements. I can't believe I used to be that person.


Allison Gaydosh 2LT, NJARNG 150th Engineering Company

Read SSG Ken Weichert's Fitness Blog at

Ken Weichert (a.k.a. "SGT Ken") is a Six-time Soldier of the Year, Master Fitness Trainer and veteran of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm. Ken and his wife Stephanie, a Certified Personal Trainer, founded START Fitness, a group exercise and hiking business that delivers military-style workouts to Soldiers and civilians since 1998. Ken and Stephanie have led thousands of Soldiers to better health through Operation Fit to Fight, a tactical fitness instructor training program designed to prepare Soldiers for Basic Combat Training, deployments, leadership schools and post-deployment reintegration. Operation Fit to Fight creates tactical athletes who lead by example and are ready to perform necessary duties in response to natural disasters or in defense of our country! Ken and Stephanie currently produce health and fitness programs for GX magazine, and for the National Guard website.

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