Working Out with Navy SEALs

Working Out with Navy SEALs

Thanks to retired SEAL Commander Bruce Willhite (on the right holding the flag in the picture below)for leading an outstanding workout yesterday in Riverbend Park with four fit SEALs and a Marine. It was a privilege to spend time with these Vets on Memorial Day weekend.

Seal group.

Bruce runs a smooth and efficient functional fitness session that mixes strengthening and flexibility for core, hips, and shoulders. The guys below show how it’s done.


When people hear the word SEAL they conjure up images of grueling, extreme bootcamp routines. It’s true SEAL training is the most demanding because a super high level of fitness is crucial for survival and mission success. But Bruce takes the basic training principles and makes them fun and applicable for everyone.


What you’ll discover is you can get an incredible workout with basic body weight exercise. You get stronger, burn fat, and increase your resilience. You don’t need a gym with all the latest machines. You just need a little willpower and discipline and work on the basics.


Working out hard is a lot more fun when you are with a group sharing the same challenges, especially in such a beautiful setting.


Bruce plans to be in Riverbend Park (near the Kayak sculpture) every Saturday at 9 am all summer long. He also plans to add some cool aerobics after the SEAL PT workout like biking, running, maybe even paddle boarding.

We’ll be there next week to join in. Hope you are too!






Introduction to Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Training

Introduction to Navy SEAL Physical Fitness Training

CBF is pleased to invite you to a free class this Saturday, May 24, with retired SEAL Commander Bruce Willhite, who will introduce SEAL Physical Fitness Training (PT) and Team Building. Bruce will lead us through a strength, core, stretching, cardio workout mixed with team building exercises.

The session will be at Riverbend Park (adjacent to kayak sculpture), 799 SW Columbia Street in Bend.  Registration opens at 8:45 am. Workout starts at 9 am. Bring a water bottle, yoga mat or carpet scrap (if you don’ like being on grass), and sun screen.

Everyone is welcome, but participants need to be 18 or older and sign a waiver.  The session is designed for experienced exercisers who are pretty fit. Feel free to watch the session if you think it might be too much for you because the principles of training used by the SEALS apply to exercisers of all levels.


Most people know that SEAL training is very challenging. It epitomizes what functional fitness is all about – building strength, agility, flexibility, and endurance for real life. You don’t need a fancy gym, just your own body and plenty of willpower.

Recently four star Admiral William McRaven, our nation’s top SEAL, delivered a brilliant commencement speech at the University of Texas in Austin.  Remember his wise words, which pertain to all your life, when you think you just can’t do one more rep.




The Powerful Plank

The Powerful Plank

The plank is often thought of as a great  core exercise, which it is, but it much more than that. It’s also a diagnostic tool to identify your physical strengths and weaknesses.

The plank is the up position prior to a push up. You form a bridge with your body, held straight from head to toe, with hands or forearms and feet on the ground. It can also be performed on the knees (this is a good place to start if you are not accustomed to doing the plank). Here’s a good short American Council on Exercise instructional video on the plank, going from basic to challenging.

The plank is simple, but plenty challenging because you use muscles in your abdomen, hips, and shoulders. In its basic form, the plank is an isometric exercise that involves no movement.

Try it. When you get in position, pull your scapula together to stabilize your shoulders, pull your belly button in slightly to brace the abdomen, then tighten your butt and thigh muscles. You should not feel bending or sagging in your lower back.

So what can you tell about your fitness when to do a plank? If you can hold the plank position with good form (no arching up or sagging down) for 30-60 seconds indicates you have solid overall stability in your torso. This stability makes doing other types of exercise involving movement much safer and effective.

If you cannot keep your shoulders from caving in and holding your scapula in place, there’s a weakness there. This is pretty common. If you tend to sag in the middle, your core needs to be strengthened, in particular the large rectus abdominus muscle that circles your abdominal area like the steel bands on a whiskey keg. Likewise, if you sag, your glutes and quads need to be strengthened to stabilize the hips.

There are exercises you can do to isolate and strengthen the different muscles used in the plank, but the very best training for the plank is to do it. The plank itself strengthens where you are weak.


Training Younger

Training Younger

To progress, we need to regress. Duh, say what?

Remember when you crawled around on the floor as a child? Or rolled your body across the grass? Or doing short sprints and agility drills in high school physical education? For most of that, those movements are in the distant past, and it’s to our detriment.

As we grow up and age, very steadily we reduce both the range and velocity of movement. Once we’re out of school at whatever grade level, we sit more, maybe walk or run, or lift a few weights, do some activities of daily living, like mow the lawn or vacuum, but no more crawling on all fours or hopping sideways or skipping or jumping or quick lunging. Adulthood becomes an inexorable process of forgetting body movements and losing skills.

yg12This modern story of aging is mistake that needs fixing. We become fragile because we act fragile. Our society cues us that we’re delicate and vulnerable. Yes, it’s part of the natural process of aging for your bones to gradually become more brittle and the muscles, ligaments, and tendons to lose strength and be less flexible. However, by accepting and living the stereotype of the old  and fragile, we accelerate this process and grow old before our time.

Now’s a good time to rethink how you exercise. If you’ve been limiting yourself to any one activity like endurance running or zumba or pumping iron, break out of the rut. Get on the ground and do a commando crawl. Get in a push up position with only your hands and toes in contact with the ground and do a crab walk. Jump over something. Leap sideways. Dribble a ball while moving forwards and backwards.

The reason older people can’t do many movements is because they just stopped doing them a long time ago.  The muscle motor units still remember, but they’ve gone to sleep from sitting in front of the television or a computer and riding cars and in golf carts. You can wake them up. You need to wake them up. This is what we do in The Younger Games.

Once you did these types of exercise to pass a class or prepare for competition. Now’s a good time to revisit them to prepare for the rest of your life.

Start slowly. Obviously you need to be mindful of vulnerabilities if you’ve had injuries or surgeries. You’ll feel awkward. Maybe you’ll quickly fatigue.

But if you persist, you’ll get stronger and more flexible than you ever thought you could. Your joints will feel better. Your energy will increase. You’ll find yourself doing everyday activities with more skill, grace, and confidence.

Will you be as young and strong as the good old days? Of course not, but your body will become
functionally younger in the only time that counts – right now.

How We Exercise

How We Exercise

We’re now offering regularly scheduled classes at Smith Martial Arts and Fitness. We invite you to come watch a class, or even better, participate in a class for free.

Bend has a lots of gyms and spas, almost as many as it does micro-breweries and growler re-fill stations. So there are lots of choices for people looking for a place to get in shape. On the surface, all of them are similar – some exercise equipment and open floor space for group fitness classes. On the surface, CBF is no different.

But when it comes to fitness for exercise for age 50 plus adults, CBF is VERY different. To begin with, we’re grey-haired trainers in our 60s. We have unique knowledge not just from formal study of older adult fitness, but experience from decades of exercise. We know the aches and pains of older exercisers, and challenges that come from old injuries or medical conditions.

But the differences that will benefit you is the how and why we exercise the way we do. Our approach to exercise for older adults is more energetic and ambitious.


We believe all forms of exercise are wonderful. However, as we age, certain exercise becomes much more important – whole body, loaded movement, focus on training for real life activities, plenty vigorous, even athletic. Too often older adults are treated by McGyms like delicate pieces of crystal ready to break at the slightest stress.To many classes for older adults treat everyone like they are already feeble.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We’ve found older adults can, and need to, exercise with lots of challenge and variety, moving in many different directions at levels of speed and power as determined by  individual strengths, weaknesses, and endurance levels.  Most older adults are capable of physical accomplishments that surprise them and they find are fun, just like when they were much younger.

At CBF, you receive very individualized training, even in our small group classes. We modify exercises to make them safe, but still be challenging so you progress. We help you find your limits, then work with you to surpass them.

Try a free class. You’ll see what we mean.