NORFOLK (NNS) -- Walk into any weight room anywhere in the world, and chances are good the positive atmosphere will be familiar: the clanging iron, the outpouring of exertion, and that distinct feeling of pride which is rooted in physical accomplishment.
In the U.S. Navy and aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), a positive attitude can carry more weight than any weight room can offer up. That's why more than a few Sailors serving aboard Truman feel it's very important for Sailors - both young and old - to maintain a strong level of commitment to physical fitness.
"Physical training is definitely for everybody, from the young to the old," said Storekeeper 1st Class (SW) Maurico D. Croom, Truman's safety leading petty officer and assistant command fitness leader. "PT (physical training) is a way of life, not just for people in the military but for everybody these days."
However, the demanding life of a Sailor can often leave seemingly little time for a regular PT regimen. Finding the time for a physical fitness routine while on deployment can often be about as easy as flying a lead balloon. By the end of a 12-hour day, the last thing many Sailors aboard Truman may feel like doing is exerting more energy in an hour's time than was demanded of them in the 12 or 13 hours they just walked away from.
"It falls on your drive and your motivation," said Storekeeper 1st Class (SW) Linda L. Nicholson, Truman's supply quality assurance leading petty officer. "The secret behind motivating yourself is 'How bad do you really want to do it?' That goes for anything you do in life."
Croom said at some point, somewhere, you're going to have to make a sacrifice or two. He echoed Nicholson's sentiment concerning motivation.
"It's all self-orientated," said Croom. "You just need to stay committed and stay focused."
Achieving a satisfying level of physical fitness extends far outside the realm of your everyday weight room though, cautioned Truman's Physician Assistant Lt. Tobijah T.C.B. Griffin. She said cardiovascular activity and a healthy, balanced diet were just as important as how well a Sailor could perform in the gym.
"Diet and exercise go hand-in-hand," Griffin said. "Once you get yourself into a healthy cardiovascular and dietary regimen, it's going to become a part of your life."
Nicholson said a person's diet goes a long way in determining how well they'll perform in a physical sense.
"If you constantly focus on your well-being and your fitness, you'll make wiser choices when selecting the foods you eat," she said.
Croom said he understands for Sailors out on lengthy deployments, their meal selection can be scant.
"The convenience of being able to pick and choose what you want to eat is gone," said Croom. "But almost anything can be eaten in moderation, so you have to eat in moderation when the selection is limited."
He said a Sailor's best bet is plenty of green vegetables, fruits and dried cereal because they're a great source of fiber. Griffin couldn't have agreed more.
"If people were to change their snacking habits to healthier [food] like fruits, vegetables, or even dried cereals, they'd be less hungry throughout the day," she said.
Water, the most basic of human elements, was the one vital factor spanning both the physical fitness and proper diet spectrum, said Griffin.
"It's very important to drink lots of water," Griffin said. "It's going to help your workouts and it's going to help your insides process the food that you're eating."
Nicholson said knowing your limits and employing proper discretion when beginning a PT session were key factors to any successful workout.
"You want to start out with some stretching exercises because you need to get your blood flowing," said Nicholson. "The worst thing a person can do is jump out there and start running or weight-training without properly warming up."
She stated that while not everyone is at the same fitness level, there are many forms of PT for all shapes and sizes.
"No matter what your condition, there's a fitness regimen out there to suit your needs," she said.
Croom said there were numerous injuries that could happen at any given time if caution was thrown to the wind.
"You have to work different parts of your body each day to avoid overexerting certain parts of your body," he said. "You could end up pulling muscles or damaging rotator joints, so you have to do your exercises in moderation."
Both Croom and Nicholson agreed that a regular PT regimen of three to five days a week, for about an hour at a time, would bring Sailors maximum results, provided the Sailor was willing to bring the motivation necessary for success.
"I think we all have what it takes, and it just may take a little longer to bring it out of some than it would others," said Nicholson. "As long as you continue to push yourself, you shouldn't lose the motivation to the point where you want to give up."
Croom said the commitment to being physically fit didn't just benefit the individual Sailor, but his shipmates as well.
"You have to look at the big picture," he said. "Other people's lives depend on you being able to do your job. You need to be physically fit."
Despite their differences in age, gender or rank, Croom, Nicholson and Griffin all agreed on one thing: the healthier a Sailor's body is, the healthier a Sailor's mind will be.
"If you put dedication and motivation and perseverance together, you'll find a way to get in some kind of physical training," said Nicholson. "Doing a little bit of something is better than doing a whole lot of nothing."
For related news, visit the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn75/.