We tried it: GI Joe Workout by Platoon Fitness

The Philly fitness scene is going transcontinental! When Paramount Pictures was gearing up for the premiere of GI Joe: Retaliation, they figured what better way to enjoy a rough and tough movie than with a rough and tough workout? So to celebrate Wednesday’s release of the film, Paramount asked Philly’s own Platoon Fitness to create a workout that embodied the “GI Joe” experience. I was lucky enough to sit down with get my butt kicked by Platoon’s Founder, Mike Smaltz, and get the scoop on how this workout was created.

So how did Platoon Fitness, out of thousands of personal training centers nationwide, get the honor? “We’ve made a name for ourselves as a real basic and primal type workout, very foundational and very functional,” explained Smaltz, a former Physical Readiness Training coordinator for the US Navy. “Plus the Platoon name itself kind of matches with the military, so I think it was an easy fit.”

In order to design a GI Joe inspired workout, Smaltz based it off of three major components: functionality, teamwork, and time restraints. “We try to gear towards what a ‘Joe’ might encounter in the field – carrying a body, moving machinery, long endurance periods of time where they’re working hard without a break.”

And that’s exactly what we did. I pushed a 45lb weight across the length of the room 12 times, as if I was moving machinery. Then I carried a body (ok a small baby, Mike went easy on me) over my shoulders up and down a set of stairs five times. When you go through the exercises, you can really visualize what part the “Joe’s” journey you’re on next.

So here’s how it works: There are 10 exercises on the to-do list. You’re generally on a team of 2-3 people and you’re racing against the clock. The first exercise is to complete 500 feet as a team on the Jacobs Ladder, and your last exercise is a ¼ mile hill sprint done by the whole team. The other eight exercises on the list can be completed in any order, so if someone on your team is feeling weak in the legs after 25 “loaded slides,” then it might be a good idea to tackle the 30 pull-ups next – you get the jist?

For Smaltz, the teamwork element of this workout is the real key. “The GI Joes are a team based unit with a ton of different personality dynamics that come into play – and we’ve seen this in the movie,” said Smaltz, “so with any team if there’s a hero, sometimes that hero can actually be a detriment to the team, trying to get in that extra rep when it would be easier to step away and allow a fresh body to come in.”

While I tried the workout solo, Smaltz proved to be a great motivator, so fortunately that teamwork-feel was not lost on me. Plus, having someone as qualified as Smaltz right next to you to help you make sure you’re keeping perfect form makes every exercise just a little more rewarding!

Smaltz’s favorite exercise of the circuit is the sand bag stairs workout. “Moving that weight up the stairs for a long period of time and working as a team to move as quickly and as efficiently as possible – it takes a lot of communication to do that as a team and it’s always fun to watch people work hard at that,” said Smaltz, who has taught over 8,000 outdoor fitness classes and has spent over 20,000 hours working individually with clients during the past 15 years.

The best part about this workout is that every single exercise is a full-body toner! For 50 minutes you’re engaging your core, your glutes, your triceps, etc, all at the same time. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure you’d be hard-pressed to find a muscle group that Mike doesn’t target. And if, by some slim chance, there’s a part of my body that’s not sore 24 hours after, I’ll be sure to let him know he’s forgetting one!

The GI Joe workout isn’t just for the super fit either – everyone and anyone, with the right motivation, can do this workout.

“We’ve done this workout with kids, sports teams, the senior population- it’s is very modifiable, so we can easily scale it down,” said Smaltz, which he so generously did for me when we quickly realized 50 reps of burpee jumps just weren’t happening! A simple way to modify the workout would be to use a smaller tire during the tire flip exercise for a younger group.

To schedule your GI Joe workout or to check out what Platoon has to offer – believe me, you’ll want to – you can find them on the web at platoonfitness.com or call 1-888-PLATOON (752-8666).

Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.