Hitting the gym: An Airman’s means to resiliency

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar — A loud and arduous grunt escapes from the petite, unassuming female Airman gripping onto a bar holding 285 pounds. Her face flushes red as she squats down to thrust the impressive amount of weight back up. 

Weightlifting can be defined as a means to measure strength and power, and that is exactly what 2nd Lt. Briana Gent, the distinguished visitor flight officer with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Protocol Office, sought out; strength in physical discipline and mental resiliency.

Resiliency is a term stressed regularly in the Air Force in efforts to give Airmen the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands, as well as sustain a resilient Air Force community fostering mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness. The concept as a whole has been coined as Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and for Gent in particular, her goals in the gym are her means of achieving this. 

“Weightlifting is about precise movements and planning, not unlike almost all jobs in the Air Force,” said Gent. “My motivation in the gym wasn’t always this high; I had to learn to the love the process before I truly understood what resiliency meant to me.”

Resiliency has added meaning for those who are deployed, given the demands of the assignment and separation from loved ones. The same can be said for Gent whose career thus far has consisted primarily of TDYs and deployments. To take advantage of the time she has spent being deployed, Gent has since ramped up her training.

Since coming to Al Udeid, Gent has been training to raise her fitness to a competitive level, starting with entering a figure competition when she returns to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England.

Gent explained that she exercises towards a goal. Meeting that goal, no matter the length of time needed and the number of setbacks involved, is how she sharpens her discipline and resiliency. 

“When you are exercising for a goal, you are in competition with yourself,” said Gent. “Don’t let what others are doing discourage you; use it as inspiration towards your own goal.”

Pursuing physical strength may have motivated Gent to succeed in weightlifting, but it is the “never quit attitude” she gained that has continued to inspire her in her duties outside of the gym.

“As long as I continue to pursue my goals, I will never fail myself,” said Gent. “I will set a good example for Airmen if I strive to put forth work that I can always take pride in.”

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