TO make sure they have “the Right Stuff” to become the first Filipino astronaut, the three final candidates in the Axe Apollo Space Academy have begun a physically demanding training program to prepare them for the rigors of Space Camp.
With their December departure for Orlando, Florida drawing near, Evan Ray Datuin, Daniel Angelo Roque and Ramil Santos started their training at Crossfit MNL’s Makati branch in Legaspi Village.
Inside the 'box,' the three men and invited members of the media were subjected to an introductory Workout of the Day (WOD) that was challenging even during the unorthodox warm-up exercises.
They Said It!
“Crossfit is supposed to prepare you for life’s everyday challenges. That is why it’s the choice of most firemen, police academies and the US Navy Seals. It prepares them for any obstacle whether it’s like climbing a wall, catching robbers or actually going to space. It should be the perfect program for them." - Crossfit MNL owner Miguel Dy Buncio
With a digital clock over their heads, each participant had to complete as many seven-set box jumps, ball walls (tossing a 3kg rubber ball to the wall while in a crouching position), burpees (a particularly difficult squat/ push-up/ jump movement), pull-ups and push-ups in seven minutes with only 10-second intervals.
Crossfit MNL owner Miguel Dy Buncio, who personally supervised the session, said the exercises were designed to test their cardio, biometrics and upper body strength in order to determine fitness levels.
“Crossfit is supposed to prepare you for life’s everyday challenges. That is why it’s the choice of most firemen, police academies and the US Navy Seals. It prepares them for any obstacle whether it’s like climbing a wall, catching robbers or actually going to space. It should be the perfect program for them,” Dy Buncio said.
His initial assessment after the body weight workout: Roque is pretty fit while not so far behind is Santos who he sees has a solid fitness background while Datuin is keeping up with the pace of everyone else.
As the three finalists continue their training four times a week, additional workouts would be added.
Around 100 candidates from 60 different countries are competing for 23 slots in a space flight scheduled for 2014.
Roque, himself a coach at Crossfit MNL at 22, described the workouts as “high intensity, consistently varied and emphasizes functional movements.” A one-hour workout can burn up to 500-600 calories.
The former captain of the DLSU varsity football team said he took up crossfit training after his college career as a way to stay active without being bored by the routine of the gym.
The lanky and easygoing Datuin said he’s excited and intent on focusing with this new style of training even as the 24-year old La Salle Dasmarinas graduate said his family is undergoing a trial brought upon by typhoon Yolanda - both his parents hail from Samar and are searching for several relatives who are still unaccounted for. He said he took time to help in packing relief goods destined for his province.
Santos, a 29-year old computer engineer, said he had trouble during the session since he has a bad cold and his body was still adjusting but otherwise described the “intense” crossfit training as being “6-7 stronger” despite being considerably shorter compared to his current workouts in the gym.
Supposedly competing for the one slot reserved for a Filipino in the 2014 sub-orbital space flight, the three candidates were more like teammates than rivals as Roque helped his fellow candidates warm up as the trio talked about taking the training in the same Crossfit box.
Aside from the daily crossfit sessions, the would-be astronauts will also undergo scuba training and a physical exam similar to what pilots undergo at the St. Luke’s Medical Center.