Archives for category: Fitness

Story by MCSA Carla Ocampo
Photo by MC2 Jonathen Davis

Stennis works as a team to keep Stennis running smoothly so it can project its power across the world; however, this seven-month deployment Sailors will be teaming up to also project another form of power: athleticism and sportsmanship.

Soccer and basketball teams are currently being formed to play against our host nations during port visits. Along with Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) tours, and community service. Sailors can unite with people from different cultures and lifestyles through something they both have in common: sports.

“Sports are universal; they help bridge the gap between our host nations and build a strong bond,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/ AW) Rodel Salazar, Stennis’ sports team coordinator. “It helps them see us in a different light.”

Not only will participating in sports help improve relations with other countries, but within the command as well. Being a part of a command team is a great opportunity for Sailors to show off their skills and do something outside of their normal day-to-day activities.

“It gives Sailors the opportunity to experience something different and meet new people,” said Salazar. “It allows Sailors to work as a team outside of the working environment.”

Command sports can help junior Sailors step into unique leadership roles that are not available working aboard an aircraft carrier.

“As a coach I’m in charge of a team of at least 15 people,” said Aviation Machinist’s Mate Airman Ryan Hood, Stennis’ soccer team assistant coach. “Coaching has definitely helped me be a better leader. I’ve’ played soccer all my life so I wanted to use the experience for when I’m a coach outside the Navy.”

Sports are still just a game and a lot of fun for Sailors who want to escape the daily routine of deployment life can join a team and play.

“It’s a huge morale builder, many Sailors are gifted athletes and for different reasons are now in the military. Command sports gives them the opportunity to play,” said Salazar.

The opportunity is open to all hands. Anybody with the desire to play is welcome to attend meetings. Even though there will be little opportunity for practice aboard the ship it’s still a great way for Sailors to enjoy themselves in friendly competition.

Playing soccer and basketball with other nations is an opportunity for Sailors to enjoy recreation while serving their country overseas during deployment.


Story & Photo by MC3 Dugan Flynn

A Sailor aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) is instructing a group of Sailors in the martial art of Goju Ryu Karate.

Cryptologic Technician (Networks) 1st Class (IDW) Scot Mertz has been practicing Karate since the age of five and has been teaching the art professionally since 1996.

“It’s something to give back to people,” said Mertz. “It gives them something to do and focus on. It gives them a goal. It also helps them forget the fact that they are on a deployment for seven months.”

Mertz plans on covering all the material in this martial art up to the black belt skill level.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone will be promoted to black belt,” said Mertz. “But I’m trying to at least expose them to all the material.”

Mertz hopes to have at least one student achieve black belt during this deployment.

“I’ve been practicing for five years and teaching for two,” said Operations Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Trish Duong, Mertz’s assistant. “I hope to get a black belt in Goju. It’s a different branch for me. It’s something new for me and I wanted to enhance my knowledge in different styles of martial arts.”

Members interested in the Karate class had to sign an injury waiver to join the class.

“This art is full-contact,” said Mertz. “I’m not going to be teaching the sparring and stuff, but Goju Ryu is typically heavy-contact.”

Duong said martial arts is beneficial not only for physical exercise, but for other areas in her life as well.

“Not only does it get the body in shape, but it also helps clear the mind from stress,” said Duong. “It helps with focus and concentration with school and work-related activities.”

The Karate Club meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 2000 in hangar bay one. For more information, email Mertz at

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.”

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