© Courtesy of Gdm Italiana

I’ve tried military training fitness and I did not die

18.02.2019 | By ELENA LONGARI

Nothing ever in the myriad of fitness courses, classes, trainings and all the latest brainchildren of the ones who promise to get you fit, healthy and entertained in no time, had ever caught my attention. Until I came across the chance to try out a military training fitness class.

Where I stand at with fitness

Before I dwell on the pains and tales of my 1 hour lesson with instructor Valentina, I must give a bit of a background into my approach towards sports and fitness.

I like to sweat, push to the limit, feel I can take myself beyond that limit, and the adrenaline pumping because of such achievement; I have a past of endurance junky, as in my glory days I used to be professional triathlete.

Zumba, pilates, body tone, and not even a squat challenge would get me hooked up.

That’s why the word military got my attention. The gap in my unfit life would be finally filled by something I could finally call tough. So I went for it.


The goods

The word military takes me immediately to press ups, running miles in the snow and repeating sets just because your shirt isn’t flawlessly put on.I was expecting some of that and of course to make the first encounter with a Drill Instructor Hartman type of fitness bully, I mean someone who had the word ‘discipline’ tattooed on his chest like the print of Louis Vuitton bag.

The bads

On the other hand, one of things that always spoils it for me is ‘the others’. I was simply dreading entering a studio filled with skinny bimbos who had never taken their heart beats racing above 90 per minute. The fear of not fitting in mixed with a sense of social ineptitude were lurking from the horizon.

The reality

I stepped into the vast space of the school gym where the lesson was set with hopes for new beginnings mixed with new fear if finding myself yet again in one of those pretentious situations I can never find the will to tolerate. I couldn’t be more wrong.

No flashy brands or logos on the apparently ordinary looking people that were sitting casually on their yoga mats, waiting for this military training fitness thing to kick off.

And it did.

And after about 5 minutes into it, I was already thinking about ways to ‘pretend you haven’t fainted’.

Or ‘how to avoid puking’.

The type of exercise

Sest on specific group muscles, high intensity reps, let’s say 50 crunch abs, alternated to high frequency cardio, such as high knees skipping and jumps of various types. In a nutshell.

But there was more to com. The killer. The plank. And yes, it is true, you don’t really know how long a minute it is until you have tried to keep a plank position for that long.

No equipment needed. Just plenty of will to make it to end of the lesson.


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So, I did I make to the end of the lesson?

First off, I must admit I wasn’t totally unfit, as I do go running once or twice a week. Having said that, I was not feeling at my best form when I tried from lying down face up, to bring myself at a standing position without using my hands to help me up. For several times. Heart pumping in my throat, breathing as If I had just sprinted a 400 m flat. General burning sensation, unpleasantness overall, but somehow, rewarding.

But there’s hack, actually a couple of hacks.

First, your mind is stronger than you think at keeping you going; take a look at how those unassumingly unfit people who were casually sitting on their mats got through the whole set without a single whine. Competition? More of a ‘I didn’t come here to be the shittiest one’ kind of thing.

Second, don’t completely stop after each set, keep moving about and maintain your heart pumping blood around, trust me, you will avoid that the helicopter feeling never in the worst shindigs you have experienced.

Where’s the hook?

The hook is of course after a military fitness session you feel you have actually burnt calories and did some proper exercise, energies are drained, you feel a sense of accomplishment. In a nutshell, it can get very addictive.


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So, where does it all come from?

Certified by the Italian National Olympic Committee, thanks to the National Educational Sports Centre (Csen and Libertas), Military training fitness (Ginnastica dinamica militare) is a discipline conceived by the heads of Matteo Sainaghi and Mara Uggeri in 2013. Bodyweight exercise and the training methods used for Olympic athletes in the 70s are the underpinning methods of Gdm, how it is called over here.


Where this training doesn’t come from or isn’t inspired by is violence, and yes, the instructor has to be ‘bossy’ and keep a certain level of discipline, i.e. silence during the lesson, but their job is more of pushing a group of 30 people, who barely know each other, who have their own lives to cope with, who are more or less confident with their body and age, to hitting that rep, and the next 50, even if they can no longer feel their legs.


I was hooked, and after every lesson I feel better at it, so, if you are looking for an excuse to get into shape before the summer, this is it!