Strategies: Keeping idle soldiers ready for combat

October 10, 2014

Originally published by The Portland Business Journal

A group of retired U.S. military leaders recently sounded an alarm about the rising number of service members who are in poor physical shape, posing a threat to combat readiness.

“This really is a problem that has gone unreported,” Casey W. Coane, a retired Navy rear admiral and a member of the Mission: Readiness group, told the New York Times. “And it is impacting our ability to defend this nation.”

Cambia Health Solutions has been incubating a startup for the past 18 months that is designed to address out-of-shape soldiers, especially the Weekend Warrior variety.

Basefit, a brainchild of Cambia’s in-house business incubator Innovation Force, has been partnering with military health experts to improve the health of National Guard and Army Reserves units in Oregon, Iowa, Minnesota and Illinois.

“It’s a noble cause and has economic value as well,” said Mohan Nair, Cambia’s chief innovation officer.

The Basefit team developed a program called Warrior Well, which provides soldiers and their families training in fitness, nutrition and resilience. It’s done in a team setting, delivered by one of three certified Basefit coaches with military backgrounds.

“Having a team and a coach is the secret sauce of this,” Nair said. “You can let yourself down. You can’t let the team down.”

Nair said Basefit has been running “on a shoestring.” but he declined to say how much Cambia has invested to get it off the ground. There’s no set timeline to spin it off as a separate company. Military customers are charged $1,000 to $1,500 per soldier per year, leading to revenue of less than $1 million for the year.

The Basefit team began by doing some research, speaking to military leaders up and down the West Coast. What they were told is that many soldiers were struggling to pass the physical fitness test, and both obesity and overall wellness were big concerns.

The model Basefit developed uses in-person training and a technology platform. The Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing was the first to try it out. Over the course of the 12-month pilot, 47 Guardsmen lost 444 pounds of fat and 13 participants who had previously failed their fitness tests passed. Many of the participants achieved personal bests.

About Basefit

Basefit represents a select team of military and industry professionals focused on creating human performance training solutions that impact the total health and lifestyle of each team and participant. The men and women of our armed forces serve at the heart of this mission, hired and trained to create experiences that increase readiness and resilience. Learn more about Basefit at www.basefitready.com.