Lt. Ryan Kight gets his measurements taken by Morale, Welfare and Recreation Afloat Fitness Director Chad Quinn on the USS Kitty Hawk during the carrier’s summer cruise.

Lt. Ryan Kight gets his measurements taken by Morale, Welfare and Recreation Afloat Fitness Director Chad Quinn on the USS Kitty Hawk during the carrier’s summer cruise. (Patrick L. Heil / Courtesy of U.S. Navy)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The “Four Horsemen” aren’t going to buck and kick if you call them the biggest losers of all USS Kitty Hawk sailors.

In fact, the four engineers from Main Machinery Room No.2 likely will take it as a compliment.

“I think that I look great,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Joe Maggard, now 15 pounds lighter after a six-week fitness challenge modeled after “The Biggest Loser” television show.

The Four Horsemen, named for the professional wrestling team whose members threw their weight around, placed first among 19 teams and 76 sailors.

Staying fit when aboard a ship for long stretches isn’t easy, said Chad Quinn, Kitty Hawk’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation afloat fitness director. It’s especially difficult on the Kitty Hawk, the Navy’s oldest ship.

“When the Kitty Hawk was built, Navy fitness was probably last on anyone’s mind,” Quinn said. Because of the ship’s age, many of its gyms are not air-conditioned, he said, and temperatures, humidity and the sea always are changing.

But more than 120 pieces of fitness equipment recently were replaced to help sailors meet modern Navy fitness goals, he said.

Other challenges include the long hours and strange schedules sailors keep at sea.

“Being under way is not the normal 9-to-5 for most individuals, leaving them only minimal time to take care of personal business,” Quinn said.

The operations tempo also ranges from high-intensity military exercises to port calls.

“Even during … this competition, we were dodging port visits and drills,” he said.

Still, sailors usually lose weight while under way, Quinn said. But while shore-side temptations such as McDonald’s are gone, bad eating habits still beckon.

“The afloat sailor is also more apt to ‘binge eat’ once pulling into port, trying to make up for lost time,” Quinn said. The ship’s two port visits during the competition were a test of “self-control and discipline,” he said.

The four-person teams weighed in weekly and chalked up points for inches or pounds lost. Sailors also got points for team challenges, such as a 10K treadmill race and accumulated mileage on the treadmill, elliptical cross-trainer or stationary bike.

Teams designed their own regimens, which let them “research and find what best works for them,” Quinn said.

The Four Horsemen lost a hefty 118 pounds/inches by axing carbohydrates, soda and candy, in addition to running two miles a day, Maggard said.

While sailors can’t play softball, soccer and football aboard a carrier, the contest’s team emphasis was reminiscent of organized sports, said Lt. Arthur Keenan, Kitty Hawk ship secretary.

“This contest was a way to fill in the gaps of sports,” Keenan said. “It is just too easy to want to work out and get into shape when you are having fun and working as a team.”

“Biggest Loser” will stick around for another season, Quinn said. But stay tuned: Next time the competition may be more like a reality show, complete with cameras and taped interviews.

“The reality show aspect did help with our participation,” he said. “If we do have another competition in the future, I would like to incorporate this to try to make it more fun without embarrassing anyone.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now