Leadership’s Role in a Unit’s Fitness Culture? (Hint…. It’s Hard To Respect A Tactical Leader Who Isn’t Fit)

Through the Mountain Tactical Institute, we’re developing a “Fitness Culture Assessment” for tactical units. Key to the assessment results will be leadership’s support, or lack of support for fitness at the unit.

Last week we posted a survey asking three important questions about leadership’s role in unit fitness and received nearly 150 responses.

Below are the questions and a brief summary of the answers for each. Following the summaries are all the comments we received for each question.

Q1: As a Tactical Athlete, can you respect a leader who isn’t fit?


  • Outright “No” – 44%
  • Qualified “No” – 30%
  • Outright “Yes” – 3%
  • Qualified “Yes” – 23%

A typical Qualified “No” answer looked similar to this:

“I would say that I have some respect for older leaders who may have lost their physical fitness but have at least maintained their mental fitness, but generally they seem to be directly related.”

A qualitative-Yes answer looked similar to this:

“Not nearly as much as someone who leads by example. Many leaders who are injured or are older have physically paid a price, and that is understandable. Outside of that, if you aren’t prepared as a leader both mentally and physically to go first, and demonstrate a willingness to do so then I have diminished respect.”

Q2: Can Leadership who isn’t personally fit effectively require fitness standards?


  • Outright “No” – 47%
  • Qualified “No” – 38%
  • Outright “Yes” – 3%
  • Qualified “Yes” – 12%

Overall, 85% of respondents indicated that they do not believe a leader who isn’t fit personally could effectively require fitness standards from their subordinates.

Qualified-No answers generally addressed the hypocrisy of the situation, or wavering confidence in a leader who cannot perform the same duties themselves.

A typical Qualified “No” answer looked like this:

“When comparing leaders of equivalent leadership capabilities with greater or lesser physical fitness than their subordinates, I have always held leaders with equal, or greater physical fitness with much higher respect.”

Qualified-Yes answers generally contained an indication that they would make an exception for age, the evolved nature of their leader’s job, or on the job injuries that might hinder their leader’s fitness. For example:

“I believe they can if they have a substantial background and their fitness level is lower due to age or disability.”

Q3: Is it Possible to have a culture of fitness without leadership’s support?


  • Outright “No” – 24%
  • Qualified “No” – 24%
  • Outright “Yes” – 15%
  • Qualified “Yes” – 37%

The results of this question were by far the most interesting based on the trends of the first two questions. Just over half of respondents indicated that it is possible to have a fitness culture despite the lack of leadership’s involvement or commitment to fitness. These responses noted that younger recruits might be more apt to keep up their own fitness, and that individuals are personally responsible for their fitness.

Respondents who answered “no” argued that leaders lead by example, so if they themselves to do not place importance on fitness, then subordinates will follow their leader’s directive and neglect their own fitness as a result. The Qualified “no” answers indicated that constraints like lack of training time, lack of facilities, and pay are all issues that their leadership would have to address in order to develop a culture of fitness within their department or unit.

A typical qualified “No” answer looked like this:

“This is very difficult because fitness requires time and energy. If the leadership doesn’t understand the importance of physical fitness then they won’t devote the time and energy for the unit to do it.”

A typical qualified-”Yes” answer looked like this:

“To have a strong fitness culture you need leadership’s support but they do not need to have a personal commitment to fitness. Each person must take responsibility for his or her own fitness levels no matter what leadership says or does. Now a leadership that supports fitness via facilities and duty time allocated to fitness greatly enhances their subordinate’s ability to maintain a high level of fitness.”

Overall Summary

Respect for a leader and a culture of fitness do not seem to be inextricably linked based on this survey. A unit may train and have a high level of fitness despite their leader’s personal lack of fitness. A leader may require their unit to uphold a certain level of fitness, yet they might not hold themselves to the same standards.

Respondents indicated varying exceptions they would allow for their leaders such as age, injuries, or logistical knowledge, which would still qualify them as a good leader.

As for a culture of fitness, over half of respondents acknowledged the need for each individual to show initiative and be responsible for their own fitness apart from their leadership’s personal fitness. Others indicated that leaders are instrumental in developing a culture of fitness by placing importance on training time and by providing facilities in which to train. In this way leaders have the power to cultivate a culture of fitness within their department or unit.

Answers from all of the questions are compiled below:

Q #1: As a Tactical Athlete, Can You Respect a Leader Who Isn’t Fit?

Absolutely not.  It is an integral part of our job to be fit.  Failing to be fit is a danger to yourself, your co-workers and if applicable the people you are trying to save.  In the military, your primary weapon is your body; if you fail in maintaining that weapon you will fail in the maintenance of others.
Depending on their roles and responsibilities. I don’t expect a division commander/fleet commander to be as physically fit as a platoon/team leader. But I do believe there needs to be a degree of physical capability and fitness.
Depends on that leaders position.  If he’s a leader that’s in the fight with you then no.  You have to be on the same fitness level or better if you’re still in the fight.  If this leader is in a position that is not in the fight anymore being fit is a huge bonus and will earn a lot of respect.
I am a former Marine and current LEO/Fire/EMS. It definitely makes it more difficult.  To lead from the front is to lead by example.
I am the team leader for our swat team. I do not expect my supervisors, Lt and above, to be physically fit. However, as a leader of a specialized unit sergeants and team leaders need to set the tone, tempo and level of fitness required for the unit.It is important as a team leader to set a standard for team fitness, you don’t have to be the strongest or fastest but you can never quit! If your team see their leader quit regardless of how hard a particular workout is, it sends the wrong message to those in your command and quitting can spread like wild fire! Additionally, it is important your unit has a set goal or level to achieve. Working out to workout can become tedious and cause disdain within the unit. Setting a goal or establishing a workout plan with objectives allows everyone within the unit to work toward the same accomplishments, such as your operator ugly test.
I can respect them as long as they are trying to progress.
I can, but I’d always view them as a better leader if they were fit as well as competent.
I can, but they must be proficient in all other experts of their job.
I can. This depends on unfit they are and other attributes that are strong. Fitness is an easy way to earn respect.
I have a harder time taking them serious as a leader if they are unable to retain some level of fitness. I have worked for effective leaders who have struggled with their fitness level, and I can’t help but that think that they failed to reach their full potential within the department.
I would say that I have some respect for older leaders who may have lost their physical fitness but have at least maintained their mental fitness, but generally they seem to be directly related.
If he has solid tactics then I’ll trust the plan, but if he is on the mission he is the weakest link.
If the organization has a fitness standard and enforces/ embraces it then this would be a mood point…there in lies the issue.
If you believe in leading by example, no way. With out a doubt a leader who can’t keep up / complete tasks that their subordinates are capable of is the fastest way to lose respect, cause rifts within the team, and kill moral. In a high stress situation you don’t want someone who is busier catching his or her breath and not taking command and dealing with the problem. A higher level of fitness definitely corresponds with a clearer mind, which is definitely important as a leader.
It is tougher. However, fitness is relative to their age and function. I don’t have the same expectation of a Commander, making decisions in the TOC, as I do of team leaders in the stack.
It makes it difficult
It really depends on the leaders job. Respect isn’t focused on just whether or not someone is fit. That is an easy way to dismiss someone without every truly understand them. While being fit is important, being a competent leader who is able to think is far more important. I am not saying a person should be fat or a detriment to the team, but if spending more time studying the enemy and knowing them is going to keep men alive, then that is more important than how much he can bench or squat. Leaders need to think ahead and set the conditions for success. We as subordinates need to be able to execute their guidance. Of course a leader needs to be fit, but a fit guy who isn’t smart or can’t think is more dangerous.
It really depends on what other qualities the leader possesses. Also, you have you must define “not fit” a slob of an individual will never garner respect, however, someone who conducts PT but isn’t at the front of the team can still find respect.
It’s possible but much harder. If they’re very competent at their military job it helps overcome that
No I can’t. I will follow somebody who is fit and leads as an example.
No I cannot, if someone cannot effectively lead and be a critical asset to a team. They become a liability and an ineffective leader.
No it’s part of the culture
No way. Fitness is a part of the job. If your leadership isn’t fit, then they’re setting an example that says no one else has to be.
No you can’t because leaders must be able to lead from the front. They should at least be in the top quarter physically of their unit.
No, you are more likely to blow him off.
No, however, age and tactical experience can play a role
No, however, the leader’s background and personal reasons why (injury, medical) must be taken into consideration.
No, not in least bit (I caveat with a slight exception if the leader was injured in the line of duty) the leader must be physically capable to demonstrate what is expected from his/her subordinates. This responsibility does not leave at any point regardless of promotion or status.
No, the first impression you get when you meet your leader will directly affect your working relationship with them throughout your career. Being fit is part of the job, but more importantly your teammates lives depend on you to be fit. Weather its carrying a small child out of a burning house or dragging a wounded buddy off the battlefield. YOU need to be fit to lead a tactical athlete or you should not be doing the job.
No, the leader doesn’t have to be the most fit, but should be in the top.
No, though as senior leaders are sometimes much older, the definition of fit may be relative. They do not need to be able to out perform the members of the unit who are younger and in their prime.
NO! Especially in the military, I truly believe fitness is a large pillar of what we do. Even Support Soldiers may have to fight for their lives. Fitness and mental toughness will increase your odds.
No.  How can you require your subordinates to accomplish a task if you are unable to perform the same task to standard?
No.  No room for it in this Profession
No. A leader/boss/supervisor has to be presentable and needs to set a positive example for other to follow.
No. How can I expect him to lead me through combat situations if he constantly falls out or fails PT events?
No. It shows a hypocrisy and a severe lack of self discipline
No. It shows a lack of respect towards the unit and towards themselves.
No. Lack of fitness reflects a lack of personal drive that carries over into other aspects of life, including your leadership.
No. Lead by example!
No. Period.
No. There are standards that need to be met or exceeded to lead. A true leader sets the example. Fitness of the body is also fitness of the mind.
Nope unless they have an underlying reason such as injury or disability
Nope, unless there is overwhelming intellect/other skills he/she has.
Not as much as one who is fit?
Not completely lose all respect, but it is a decent hindrance in gaining respect of your men.
Not nearly as much as someone who leads by example. Many leaders who are injured or are older have physically paid a price, and that is understandable. Outside of that, if you aren’t prepared as a leader both mentally and physically to go first, and demonstrate a willingness to do so then I have diminished respect.
Not really. The more important answer is, what are you doing to fix the discrepancy? Do you joke about your beer belly, and lack of overall fitness, or do you put in serious work trying to fix the situation…
Only if it’s the result of an injury
Only if the lack of fitness is due to age or injury. I.E. they have proven that they can make shit happen and can show how it is done, but can’t quite keep up with the young bucks anymore.
Only if there is an injury related reason, and even then diet could go a long way towards managing weight and concealing a lack thereof of fitness
Out of shape leaders diminish respect.  In physically demanding jobs leaders have to be able to perform the same tasks as their subordinates.
Respect is significantly reduced.
That depends on the leaders current role within the unit. If he is more in the admin area yes. If he is still boots on the ground with the unit then he needs to maintain his fitness like everyone else. This is not just to garner the respect of the troops but for his and their safety. Now his level of fitness will depend on his age and past injuries.
The funny thing about this question is that in the military we’re taught that you don’t have to respect the person, however you must respect the rank. Personally, I can tell you that NO I would not respect a Leader who isn’t fit. I’m 44 yrs. old and have been in the Army for 26 yrs. straight and I give all that I have day in and day out. Reason being is I love what I do and I know my Soldiers are always watching me. Therefore I can never let them down. When it’s all said and done Leaders lead from the front in all aspects of our chosen professions.
The short answer is no. A leader in an administrative position who is not fit but does a great job could earn my respect if he was not fat.
This is a more complex question than most people will give credit to. I will answer yes in general, but there are problems with that.
This question is brought up on a daily basis and I end up with the same answer “No”.   So in short, no, I cannot respect a leader who doesn’t take fitness seriously but expects other too.
I can have respect for a leader who may be unfit, to and extent, if they possess strong leadership abilities (command presence, leaders intent, use of appropriate tactics, and the ability to read and understand their forces and the situation at hand). That said, if a leader is unfit to the point where he/she cannot effectively carry out their job position or keep up with their unit; that is a problem. A leader cannot lead from behind the unit; they need to be able to move around their unit and see the situation at hand from all angles in order to make appropriate tactical decisions. If they are not fit enough to lead effectively, it is hard to have respect for that leader.
Yes and no. You can if he is amazing at his job, but there will always be questions about readiness and ability if he is in poor shape.
Yes but only if they are EXTREMELY competent at their job or another aspect of their performance
Yes but there lack of fitness invalidates any fitness performance critiques or comments.
Yes provided they aren’t grossly out of shape
Yes, but it makes it more difficult
Yes, but it’s not going to the same kind of respect the physically squared away leader will receive.
Yes, but not direct leaders.
Yes, I’d rather my leader was taking care of management issues instead of trying to keep up with the new guys.

Q#2: Can Leadership, Who Isn’t Fit Personally, Effectively Require or Enforce Training/Fitness Standards On Subordinates?

A leader who isn’t fit is going to have a hard time enforcing a standard of they themselves can’t uphold that standard.
Absolutely not.  I have been in a unit with both a fat commander and 1SG.  The unit followed suit.  That same unit got a new commander and 1SG and got into great shape.  Leadership is extremely important.
Absolutely not. Only exception that comes to mind is if the leader is out of shape due to a drastic work related injury such as combat injury through no fault of their own.
Absolutely. While one should always lead from the front and be the example to the rest of the group, a leader doesn’t have to be the fittest in the group. Though a definition of “fit” is most likely needed here because there are different levels of fitness required for different jobs.
Again, line level supervisors & leaders should by the very nature of the unit be physically fit.  It demonstrates to others within the unit they are willing to subject themselves to the same grueling work, as they require. Technically, given rank structure and chain of command operations, an unfit leader can enforce standards that they themselves do not practice. However, this practice, in my experience, tends to cause resentment, bitterness and a lack of respect for that individual as well as their leadership role.
As a leader you should be leading from the front, inspiring your soldiers to always do their best regardless of the task.
Depending on the leadership’s role in operations.  If they participate in the operation but can not or won’t participate in the training all other members are subjected too then they have a hard time enforcing any requirement
Double standard.
Heck no. How is he gonna tell me to stay in shape if he can’t pass a PT test.
I believe they can if they have a substantial background and their fitness level is lower due to age or disability.
I don’t believe so. You have to lead by example. You might not be able to smoke everyone, but you must at least be a participant.
If they’re in the field no. If they ride a desk yes.
In the military technically yes but they will lose the respect of their troops.
Is it possible, yes? A leader needs to lead by example though, and an unfit leader requiring a fitness standard greater than their own sets a double standard against what is being required or enforced.
When comparing leaders of equivalent leadership capabilities with greater or lesser physical fitness than their subordinates, I have always held leaders with equal, or greater physical fitness with much higher respect.
It depends what level of leadership they are serving in. Platoon Sergeant level, with knowledgeable and disciplined subordinates, yes however they probably won’t respect you. Lower than that level and no because you’re subordinates at that level are usually younger, newer guys that need to be pushed
It would be a very hard sell and it shouldn’t be.
Its possible if the standards are being forced on some bravo males. We’ve all been there if there’s a fat guy yelling at you for going to slow you just want to see them start doing it that way they know how hard it is. Everything’s easy when your an arm chair quarter back
Lack of fitness hurts credibility, but if the respect/rapport is there (see above) it can be done.
Morally no but established any leadership could enforce standards even though hypocrisy erodes unit integrity, morale and effectiveness.
No they cannot. As younger or more fit individuals are seen to be the better leader in this circumstance
No, because I cannot take him/her serious
No, but happens all the time in the law enforcement community.
No, fitness is one aspect where leaders really need to lead by example.
No, having subordinate leaders take up the program makes it theirs.
No, I cannot respect some one who tries to enforce standards they themselves cannot meet.
No, if you cannot maintain the standard yourself how can you expect your men to do it. Lead by example.
No, must lead from the front that being said experience comes from time on the team, which correlates with age. So a leader doesn’t have to be the fittest on the team, but he must be up in the front
No, no they cannot.  At my department, I am in charge of the physical readiness program.  However, due to rank, I am exempt from the semi-annual testing.  Even though I am not required to complete the readiness testing I still do.  In addition, I am the fittest member of my agency.  Maintaining that title gets harder every year.  The officers I hire keep getting younger and I keep getting older!!
No, that would be hypocritical. Without respect, you can barely enforce anything. Much less the standards you yourself fail.
No, you can only ask of your subordinates what you as the leader have done, are currently doing or will do with them.
No.  Leaders should ask subordinates to do anything they are not willing to do themselves.
No. Again lead by example.
No. Be. Know. Do.
No. I wouldn’t listen to Rosie O’Donnell if I wanted to lose weight. Why would I listen to an unfit person if I want to get in shape?
No. Lead by example. Would you take diet tips from a dietician who is obese? Probably not.
No. Leadership has to set the example for others to follow. It’s one standard for all with no exemptions.
No. Practice what you preach.
No. The best they can generate is a malicious obedience in which members only meet the letter of the law but never the spirit without fit leadership.
No. Unless they don’t mind being called a hypocrite.
Not at all.  A leader must be able to do what they ask their troops to do
Not bloody likely. Two types of leader: one who points in the direction he wishes his subordinates to go and says, “Go there.” The other type of leader looks over his shoulder and says, “Follow me.” Everyone wants the latter, and usually finds contempt for the former.
Not effectively. You can’t fake the culture and “culture” comes from the top.
Not in my opinion, a leader should be able to do more than what he asks to the troops.
Not morally
Not with a straight face.
Obviously they can.
One cannot expect those who they lead to care about fitness if the one up front shows that it is not atop their priority list.  Standards cannot be enforced if the one enforcing them doesn’t meet them to being with.
Only if they are not in an operational role.  A coach on the sidelines might be compared to a commander who is always in the rear.  It can work for some teams, but for many individuals, it will be hard to respect that type of leader.
Sure, as long as the discipline in the unit is strong enough – but it’s significantly easier to enforce fitness/nutrition standards if you are seen to be abiding by them yourself.  As an aside – I’ve been in plenty of Army units where “fitness” was a big priority, but only getting to SOF now have I seen a real emphasis on nutrition/recovery/psychology playing a large factor in military athletic performance…that is “taking it to the next level” in my eyes.
The can but only if the institution has a culture of fitness, however the subordinates will not respect the leader who cannot readily achieve the standards they are attempting to enforce.
There shouldn’t be a single point failure in leadership. There should be there should be section leaders that promote fitness to those who still operate. So yes, it’s possible for leadership to set a standard that they don’t meet at that point in their career.
They can enforce it, but they won’t be respected
Well technically they can, but any leader who isn’t fit shouldn’t be a leader
Yes and no. Again, are they working hard to fix themselves? What are they doing and is it working? It is easy for the naturally gifted to complain about how easy PT is, and that programming isn’t hard. Those that struggle and improve have had to put in serious research and work to make their improvements.
Yes but it becomes a joke
Yes, they can and often do. Again, there is that small few who get out there with their Troops and get after it. You don’t have to be the biggest, fastest, or strongest, but you have to get out there and get after it.
Yes, they can institute policy’s that at least keep subordinates safer and better.
Yes, we call it leadership by fear.  Do as I say or be moved out or punished.  Disappointingly I I’ve taught SWAT all over the country and see a lot of this.  But the True Leaders do it by example.
Yes. If those standards are for operational subordinates their fitness must be maintained at the acceptable level.

Q#3: Is It Possible to Have a Strong Fitness Culture Without Leadership’s Support, or Without Leadership’s Personal Commitment to Fitness?

Again this in my opinion is difficult.  The leadership sets the path.  However, this does not stop motivated individuals who recognize the importance of fitness not only to themself but also to the brother rand sister who serves to their left and right.
No, fitness must be lead by example
Yes. The lower enlisted take it upon themselves to do something as a team. This usually happens once the team has bonded really well already though
Yes. It is more difficult but yes.
I have always believed you invest your own time to be proficient in your marksmanship and fitness so when we train as a team we can focus on team things. But I would love to have time on the clock to workout.
Yes. I have it in my Squadron
Yes. As long as the team promotes it within itself but it is much harder
Yes. A leader can authorize time set aside, and junior leads can step up
Yes.  The leader will be left behind while others move ahead and he will be seen as the outsider and will not fit in with the team he’s supposed to lead.
Yes, units can have strong fitness cultures without leaderships support. There is always time for fitness. True leaders will come out of the wood work to support fitness training when higher echelons are not
Yes, unfortunately many tactical athletes are not in the best fitness shape they should be. I work in special operations unit and see this all the time. Some of it is due to operational commitments that demand long working hours and little to no time to PT, others are just plain lazy. I know majority of guys like myself will always find time to get my workouts in, in the morning in my garage or during my lunch break. It just up to how dedicated and disciplined you are to staying fit for yourself and the job.
Yes, subordinates should not rely on leadership to tell them they need to exercise every team member has a responsibility to himself and his team members to stay in shape. It’s the majority as a whole that defines the culture of a unit, not the people that are leading it.
Yes, organizational “centers of gravity” (COG) are often not in traditional leadership roles and can effectively make or break unit subcultures
Yes, it is possible but less likely. Although many military units and some police and fire units conduct unit PT, fitness will always be a personal responsibility overall.  But, if the unit leadership leads by example and fosters an environment where fitness is important, then the culture of the unit will eventually follow that lead.
Yes, if subordinates establish a culture of fitness and continue to build and nurture this culture as new personnel enter the organization.
Yes, I see it in my own unit
Yes, however there will need to be strong subordinate leaders involved. A reality of life in a combat arms unit that isn’t SOF is that nearly everyone who has been subjected to the stress of training and who is not durable is BROKEN after 10 years or so. This creates senior leaders who can’t do PT and/or have given up on recovering from their (back or lower body) injuries. Powers unseen will push PT events like it is a huge priority, but education and proper training is lacking, so this just breaks more soldiers. I recognize that we have a professional problem here, but at this time I lack the power to make much of a dent in what is a systemic problem; “the way it’s always been.”
Yes, empower you NCOs!!!!!!!
Yes, but those spearheading the fitness charge and setting the standard will become leaders of that culture, and by default, leaders in the unit.
Yes, but the task is made more difficult
Yes, but it requires strong NCO-level leadership to instill what the leadership fails to do.
Yes, but at some level there will be a leader to promote gym/sport/training time outside of the work environment
Yes, but again it’s very hard.  Those things work best when there is ground level buy-in/initiative, but gets support (to include resources/time) from higher levels.
Yes, as long as it’s a team mentality. If the team and the team leaders promote it can happen.
Yes only to those that are willing.
Yes it is.
Yes but only if the right subordinates are there who value that culture
Yes but it’s going to require a leader at the troop level that is capable of sharing his vision.  It would not be easy and will take a very gifted motivator at the line level.
Yes but it (fitness) may not be mission focused.
Yes but difficult to implement
Yes at the higher end of the leadership but no at the line level.
Yes and no. Yes there will be a group that will take fitness into their own hands and do the right thing. No, the team just doesn’t work right if there isn’t a certain level of fitness across the board. This will result in resentment from different groups and can turn grown men into cliquey teenage girls.
Yea there is but it can only go so far.  Changing the attitudes of those within an organization creates culture.  If an elect group of individuals can change the organizations outlook on fitness for instance then they can affect change on the culture.  This however, will only go so far with commitment from the top.  The bottom line in the whole case is that leaders must have the personal commitment to show those below them that fitness is important and that they care just as must about their personal fitness as much as that of the individuals that they lead.
While very difficult, it is possible to have a culture of fitness without a leader’s personal commitment to their own; though the leader needs to stand behind a culture of fitness in order to maintain one within the unit.
There-in lies a tricky situation as referenced in questions #1 & #2. A leader needs to maintain strong leadership abilities in order to earn the respect of their unit if they cannot maintain their own culture of fitness while enforcing one on their unit.
Very hard.  The true warriors who recognize how crucial it is to the mission will do it because they understand and have a strong personal ethic.  But it could be made so much easier with Command support
Very difficult but doable in my opinion
To have a strong fitness culture you need leaderships support but they do not need to have a personal commitment to fitness. Each person must take responsibility for his or her own fitness levels no matter what leadership says or does. Now a leadership that supports fitness via facilities and duty time allocated to fitness greatly enhances their subordinate’s ability to maintain a high level of fitness.
To a degree but I think all issues always end up back at leadership
This is very difficult because fitness requires time and energy. If the leadership doesn’t understand the importance of physical fitness then they won’t devote the time and energy for the unit to do it.
Possible, but not probable. Someone with influence has to champion the culture and importance of fitness. If it isn’t the organization’s top leader, then it must me a person who is given the latitude to be the driver and encourage/reward individual fitness achievements. If leadership demonstrates that fitness isn’t important, either by neglect or failure to place as a priority then it will not happen.
Possible yes, but unlikely.
Possible but unlikely. It requires a core group of subordinates that are uber-committed.
Personally, I’m working in a unit where the OC and the Sergeant major are not fit, they are obese and 75 % of the squadron is really out of shape. Our leadership doesn’t like to do hard pt so we end up always with some easy circuit training or sports like soccer or badminton. I hope to be post soon…
Only if the leadership was so far removed and there was a sub culture to take over
Only if junior leaders are committed to fitness and take the onus of leadership to make everyone fit.
Not with out circumventing the leaders authority.
Not really, without support from the top down
No. You need leadership support to give you time to train and equipment to train with. You need the personal commitment to set the example for the rest and to hold everyone else accountable
No. There are so many “priorities” and requirements that will pull time, resource, and effort away from a strong fitness culture. If a leader makes fitness a priority, subordinates will follow.
No. Their support is incredibly important. Approving a unit gym, leading the ruck marches, participating in unit sports, or allowing gym time during the day when possible are ways that our units leadership folks have encouraged a culture of fitness.  Our CO, in his 40’s with all his duties, is a lean mean rucking machine, so a private or corporal has zero excuse.
No. The fitness culture can exist but senior leaders undermine it with poor performance or what appears to be lack of interest.
No. Leadership pushing the fitness standards is imperative otherwise no one will take the PT standards seriously.
No. Fitness culture can exist only in select groups and not agency wide without support from the top. Without the backing from management, any fitness program lacks the ability to regulate participation from the employees. It starts at whatever management level supports it then trickles down from that tier.
No. A unit is a reflection of the leadership.
No, if the leadership does not support you, it is nearly impossible to create a fitness culture.
No, because leadership needs to support members intentions and training goals.
No if the senior leader fails to accept the rigors of the profession two things occur: 1) they lose an ability to advocate for the standards required within the profession. (Concept of professional regulation)- example is the current discussion in the military regarding women and physical standards… Most who are requesting to lower the physical standards and not grounded in the nature of their profession. 2) The leader defers a key element of leadership – setting an example, to subordinate leaders therefore sewing seeds to contempt within the organization. Once contempt is gains root… It’s near impossible to unseat until new leadership is seated.
No for formal but an informal program can exist despite the leadership.
Leadership at some level has to be involved in enforcing standards and motivating/leading by example.  If the Battalion Commander doesn’t lead by example he better have some very squared away CO’s and Platoon Leaders below him.
It’s very difficult
It’s possible to have individually fit members but not a “culture,” because as mentioned above the culture comes from the top.
It’s possible if the strong fitness culture come from a grassroots kind of growth, but it’s not probable.
It would be possible to have a small part of the unit with a very strong culture but probably not the whole unit.
It is very possible, but this is where each and every Spartan man and Woman must have the “Intestinal Fortitude” to get out there and get after it. Rob, I must admit that when my ass is dragging or I’m whipped from one of your devious training plans I always say to myself “You’re a PROFESSIONAL ATHLETE, Train like one.” Again, I’ve been a Soldier for 26 yrs. straight and LOVE what I do and I can tell you that fitness has been the key ingredient to keeping me in the game so long. Now, if only SSD would’ve been around back in my hay-day WOW, but I’m an avid follower and subscriber and have taught lots from you all’s methodology and teachings. Just my 2c.
It is very difficult, but yes. Men must use their own money, and lots of it, their own time, and must support each other. Cross training from fellow units or situations that have overcome similar circumstances can greatly help start the culture.
It is possible. I find it worse when leadership just wants to constantly measure up to everyone and boost his or her ego for beating the new guy.
It is possible, however leadership that is invested and committed to overall unit fitness will be more successful.
It could happen on lower levels, but is very unlikely.
It absolutely is possible.  It all depends on the individuals around you & their mindset.  As an individual you have the ability to influence other people in a positive way towards fitness.  Having leader’s who believe in their mission, and understand the important role fitness plays toward mission accomplishment helps drive the “fitness” culture but by no means should that be the only factor.
In the Army you at least need it at the fire team level.
In my opinion, yes. If your leadership fails you it falls upon those individuals within the unit to set the standards of what they are willing to do and accept.
I think humans are “pack” animals by nature and look to their leaders for examples of proper behavior. I know so many fat ex-Marines (I know, you never stop being a Marine) that have been out of the game for a while. Since they’re not being led or yelled at, everything’s gone to shit.
I believe that you may have pockets of fitness. Small units where fit people are leading by example and peer pressure exist. But not on a large scale unless the upper leadership is LEADING!
Having a strong fitness culture is possible without the official leader’s support, but there will be a leader who pushes the rest of the unit, regardless of the official leader’s stance. That unofficial leader will have to work very hard to be successful over the inertia created by the official leader’s lack of support.
Fitness culture has to be supported by leadership.
Anything is possible, but why not have everyone, leadership included, into fitness to help spread the culture
A strong fitness culture would be guaranteed if all of leadership, including admin and operations desk jockeys, were also fit.

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