Story by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Timothy Aguirre
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate

“Down! – Honor! Down! – Courage! Down!” is the sound often heard in hangar bay one as a group of Sailors are led in physical training (PT) by one of the most athletic-looking men on the ship who always seems to be wearing PT gear.

The buff, fit-looking man who motivates USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Sailors to give it their all during PT is Joshua Burkhard, better known around Stennis as the “Fit Boss.”

Burkhard has been the fitness guru aboard Stennis for nearly three years, having joined the ship in 2008.

After having spent more than eight years working with clients from small children and the morbidly obese to professional and Olympic class athletes, Burkhard decided to come to Stennis to help those who defend our country meet their fitness goals.

“You guys sacrifice so much,” said Burkhard. “I really wanted to give back for all you do for me and for our freedom.”

Since being aboard, Burkhard has started many programs which promote fitness and get Sailors motivated like the “Lift the Stennis” program.

“This program is made to get people used to exercising,” said Burkhard. “Sailors keep track of how much weight they’ve lifted, which includes body weight. At the end of each workout, they add up the weight used for each and every repetition and record the total weight lifted per session. Keep adding that up and you’ll have lifted a Super Hornet, a submarine, or even the John C. Stennis.”

Fit Boss also helps Sailors meet their fitness goals by assisting them with nutrition guides and food diaries, and by conducting fitness classes like the Total Resistance Exercise (TRX), and cycling classes. After a growing request from the crew, tactical yoga was added to the list.

“Tactical yoga is like regular yoga, except we focus more on relaxation and stress relief” said Burkhard. “After a long day of working on the deck plates, this class helps you slow down and take time to breathe.”

After all the time the Fit Boss has spent motivating and helping Stennis stay fit, he sums up all his advice with his favorite motto: “The only limits are the ones you set on yourself.”