Ten-year U.S. military veteran Meg Cruz saw a huge void for women in the military: lack of effective training to prepare them for various positions within the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force.
“Previously, women couldn’t even try out for something like being a Navy Seal, and when new opportunities like that opened up to women, it became obvious there wasn’t any kind of programming to accommodate female biology and female hormonal profiles,” said the 34-year-old Cruz, who lives in North Carolina.
“I saw a huge void in the industry to help women specifically. There are women who want to do what we call the tip of the spear jobs that traditionally were reserved for men who could perform at an elite tactical level. They need to be able to cover 15 miles at a time with 80 lb. on their backs, while carrying a rifle, and probably while being sleep deprived and hungry,” she said.
Today, there are tons of women out there “who might have the perfect personality for the job, but not the right training,” Cruz explained.
In light of this, Cruz made it her mission to provide appropriate training for women who want tip of the spear careers.
This led her to start an online coaching and programming company called The Valkyrie Project , which provides programming and coaching for performance in physically demanding military schools and occupational training for women.
“Our main goal is to bridge that gap to give women training options that won’t destroy their bodies, and will let them at least have a chance at getting that position they want,” said Cruz, who herself served in the U.S. Army Special Operations.
Once she was up and running with her online coaching business, Cruz realized there was more for her to learn to become an even more effective coach to her clients. A former CrossFit Regional athlete, who worked with an OPEX coach during her competition days, Cruz was more than familiar with OPEX.
She believed in what OPEX does and didn’t hesitate to sign up for the Coaching Certificate Program (CCP). While she is just putting finishing touches on her final project, she said the course has been invaluable.
“The biggest thing I needed was some really granular direction or guidance on how to tailor programming for specific populations. There are other big brands out there like the NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), but they don’t break the information into a digestible way for people to actually implement it. It’s always, ‘here’s the stuff. Good luck. Hope you can pass the test,’” she said, adding OPEX was the exact opposite.
“CCP broke it into details and shows you how all the details fit together into building the athlete. I needed that,” she added.
This has made her a much better coach to her 30 female military clients, she explained.
“Before, I was like, ‘I can watch you work out and I can fix your position and give you some tips about how to strategize a workout, but now I can actually plan out a long-term program. Before, I wouldn’t have known where to start, and now I’m confident I can apply the knowledge to build a systematic path to helping people reach their goals,” she said.
She added: “In the past, my answer to getting better at push-ups was to do a lot of push-ups every day, but thanks to CCP, I know there’s so much more than that.”
And she’s confident her company is doing a better job of preparing military women than anyone else.
“There are a lot of companies out there who claim to produce tactical athletes, but we’re the only one focused exclusively on women,” she said.
Though coaching is not her current full-time job, when she retires from the military, she hopes to pursue coaching full-time. Until then, she will try to inspire and prepare as many women as she can to achieve their dream career in the military.
“It’s really rewarding to see people meeting their goals, to help them get the level of fitness they need to participate in elite jobs in a pretty male-dominated environment. It’s fun to watch athletes surprise themselves with their own success, and to play a role in their careers,” she said.
Get an introduction to the same system of coaching that helped launch Cruz’s career in our free coaching course, The Coach’s Toolkit.
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