JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
At the Warhawk Fitness Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, a married military couple performs pushups, kettle bell swings, Olympic lifts and pull-ups all part of a high interval functional training working Staff Sgts. Nick and Kelly Yankosky have been performing and teaching this kind of training at a local gym since 2011.
The exercises make Kelly, 59th Surgical Operations Squadron orthopedic technician, feel like she can "pick up a bus." They provide her husband, Nick, 937th Training Support Squadron Medical Readiness Training Center instructor, 'a euphoric feeling,' especially when others who participate in the exercise cheer him on.
"You are pushing yourself to that second wind, and everyone is cheering you on like you're Superman," he said. "When the adrenaline kicks in, I feel like I'm in the zone, and that I can pick up a bus or run forever."
The Yankoskys started incorporating their adrenaline pumping workouts in 2010, after working out with Kelly Yankosky's brother, Staff Sgt. William Barth, when he was assigned to then Bolling Air Force Base, Washington D.C. (now Joint Base Anacostia Bolling).
Nick remembers how he felt after he did the workouts for the first time.
"I felt like I got hit by a truck the next day," said the staff sergeant and San Antonio native. "I kept up with my brother-in-law and everyone else, and I thought I was doing pretty good and the next day I couldn't move. I didn't know if I could do the exercise anymore."
Kelly knew she could perform high interval functional training: "I am very competitive. I love the training because I can compete with myself or with people. In every single workout, I push myself as hard as I can and at the end of it, I feel like I'm about to die."
The couple said that they try to get in at least five "WODs" or "workouts of the day" a week and pack in cardio and lifting once or twice a week. The WODS can take up to 20 minutes.
There is one workout called "Fran," the Yankoskys noted, where they perform 21, 15 and nine repetitions of thrusters and pull-ups in three minutes, and it pushes them to exhaustion.
"It is known to make people throw up by the end of the workouts," Nick said. "You can do 45 reps of each exercise in three minutes, and in the end, you feel that you just ran a marathon and benched 500 pounds. You just feel destroyed, but the next day you feel better and you go back to training and do better."
The training not only keeps the couple in shape, but it helps them with everyday life.
Kelly said exercises like a Farmers Carry - walking with heavy dumbbells at the side - helps improve her strength to be able to do things that can be difficult for others.
"I can use my strength to carry all my grocery bags instead of making five trips to the car," the Culpeper, Va. native said. "The workouts make you push past your threshold and do things you thought were hard and now are easy. Climbing to the ninth floor of Wilford Hall is not a problem, if you workout all the time."
Nick said the training helped improve his job performance as a medical readiness instructor -which requires him to teach students basic heavy lifting techniques- and rehabilitate lingering back issues dating back to his first year in the Air Force, 11 years ago.
"I can do things by myself that normally takes two or three people, because of the strength and endurance I attained from doing high interval functional training," he said. "Since incorporating Olympic lifting and working on functional movement, I have learned how to rehabilitate myself, make myself stronger and bounce back from an injury in a week."
While the workouts are intense and can have people gasping for breath, the Yankoskys have their personal favorites that challenge them.
Nick's favorite workout, he revealed, is Grace - 30 clean and jerks - because he is good at weightlifting and it tests his fitness.
Kelly's favorite exercise is more personal. The staff sergeant said she loves performing Murph - a Hero WOD consisting of a one mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups and 300 squats followed by a final one mile run - because it is a long workout and people at gyms across America do it on Memorial Day in tribute to Lt. Michael Murphy - a sailor who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.
Her husband fondly remembers this year's Memorial Day workout.
"We were doing pushups and squats outside in the rain, and there was water above our ankles," said Nick. "We were running down the street in the rain. It was a horrific downpour and we were soaked, but we thought it felt great."
The couple recommends that Airmen experience the fun and variety that high interval functional training offers.
"The training covers everything you need for fitness such as, bodyweight movements, gymnastics, rowing, etc.," Kelly said. "People are not going into the gym and having to do the workouts. They enjoy them."
Nick once again cited his own experience on how the training can help Airmen improve.
"It takes me a couple of sledgehammer swings versus 30 to drive stakes into the ground at work," said the staff sergeant. "For someone who is strong, they can change a tire real quick. The workouts carry over into work and personal life."