“When you’re always on the go,” says Jacques Bothelin, lead pilot of the Breitling Jet Team, “it’s hard to find a moment for the gym.”
No kidding. So how do jet pilots squeeze in the conditioning needed to withstand ungodly levels of G-forces? Many of them, like Bothelin, employ short, strenuous workouts that combine body-weight exercises and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) — newly popular fitness trends that are actually decades-old.
Back in the late ’50s, the Royal Canadian Air Force developed an 11-minute routine called 5BX — “five basic exercises.” The program kept pilots in prime shape, even while posted in far-flung locales with no gym facilities.
It centered on four workouts for improving flexibility and strength, and one for boosting aerobics, all of which got harder as you progressed.
“It’s universal: jumping jacks, running in place, push ups,” says Dr. Michael Joyner, a Maryland physician whose dad used 5BX in the ’60s. “Those things are available to us at all times. You don’t have to make this complicated.”
5BX: Get In Top-Flight Shape
Here are five exercises in the second phase of 5BX, along with the set of benchmarks fir achieving varying levels of fitness. Once you’ve hit A+, advance to the next phase. For the full program, click HERE.
Lie on your back, feet six inches apart. Sit up into a vertical position, keeping your feet on the floor – even if you’ve got to hook them under a chair.
Lie on your front, palms placed under thighs. Raise your head, shoulders and both legs. Keep your legs straight – both thighs should clear your palms.
Lie on your front and straighten your arms to lift your body, your back straight. Make sure your chest touches the floor after each rep.
Bend forward and touch the floor. Then stretch upwards into a back bend.
Run in place, lifting your feet four inches. After every 75 steps, do 10 astride jumps.