Our Aevitas Fitness family is full of the most amazing people! This Aevitas Athlete Spotlight segment is all about Ty Neil (Aevitas Guilderland) and Lana Vynnyk (Aevitas Round Lake). Ty is a Staff Sergeant in the US Army, and Lana is a vocalist in the US Army Band .
Ty and Lana both recently completed the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), and both saw significant improvements in their performance from prior tests. Their improvements were so noteworthy, we decided to spotlight them together!
If you don’t know these two amazing individuals yet, this should give you a peek into who they are! If you do know them already, keep reading - you might learn something that you didn’t know before!
Question: Tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, family, etc.
Ty: I grew up around Kansas and Tampa, FL but spent most of my younger years in Kansas. I was very involved in sports growing up from 6th grade to college, participating in track, wrestling, football and swimming while earning state metals in track and wrestling multiple years before attending college. My early 20’s were spent primarily between Tampa and Orlando working part time and attending college.
Lana: I grew up in Philadelphia. I lived with my great grandmother from Ukraine along with my great aunt and uncle. Ukrainian was our preferred language at home and as a child I struggled with English. I was also very close to my mother’s Puerto Rican family growing up and visited PR often. I was a big music nerd and started dancing when I was three, and in 4th grade started playing the violin. I went to Creative & Performing Arts HS, Penn State University for my undergrad where I did a music performance minor, and then Temple University for my graduate degree in Communications. I have amazing siblings that I’m very proud of and also my cousins who my mom adopted. We love making traditional foods and are very proud of our heritage. My younger sister is also making me an aunt, and I’m so excited. Even though I live far from my family now, Ukrainians are stubborn and it’s almost impossible to get rid of them; so we talk every day.
Q: Could you provide a bit of background about your work in the military?
Ty: I joined the Army in 2015, spent the first year training, airborne, and selection before going to 1-509th then to the 82nd. At the 82nd, I spent some time on deployments before being tasked with recruiting orders here at Albany, where I meet all day with young adults interested in serving their country. My primary job is with Infantry, and I also have airborne, sniper, counter tracking, various weapons, vehicles, and duty position qualifications.
Lana: I joined the military in 2015 as an intelligence analyst, and in 2019 I strongly considered leaving the military (it's a long story). However, that same year, the 78th Army Band approached me and convinced me to give the Army another chance as a vocalist, and the rest is history. As a vocalist, I perform at various venues/events, from high school events, mentoring, news stations such as Fox & Friends, parades, memorials, etc. In addition to singing for the band, I also am their Unit Public Affairs Representative, run their social media platforms, and am their photographer, videographer, and editor. I have had the privilege of performing for events as influential as singing on national television with millions of viewers; to smaller unforgettable events like singing to veterans at the VA hospital suffering from PTSD. I love my current job in the military and am incredibly grateful that I get to serve my country while doing what I love.
Q: Can you provide specifics about the Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT), your performance prior to the most recent, and the improvement you made in your most recent test?
Ty: The event I took part in was part of a nationwide Best Warrior Competition, which is an annual event that brings together top-tier Soldiers to test their proficiency in a variety of warrior tasks and drills. This competition involved six events across 5 days and the winning competitors from all battalions were there to compete. The morning of day one was the ACFT in which I achieved a maximum score in every event besides the run, ending with a total score of 589/600. Afternoon of day one was the obstacle course which involved, obstacle climbing, rope climbing, balance, and speed balance. Day two was land navigation and shooting with both the M4 and M9 weapon systems. Day three was the 12 mi ruck march at 50lbs which I was able to clock a time of 2:20. Day four was the final board presentation which involved a panel of senior Non-Commissioned Officers and various questions. I can confidently say the training at Aevitas prepared me well to excel in all of these events, which I ultimately won.
Lana: I first took the ACFT in May 2021 and struggled with it significantly. I failed 4 events; the deadlift, the plank, the power throw, and the run. I continued to struggle with working out and was often triggering my asthma. With encouragement from a Drill Sergeant, who is also a big CrossFitter, I started gaining motivation to improve. After joining Aevitas, I went from needing 2 inhalers and pills to control my asthma, to no medication at all. I recently took the ACFT again last month and only failed the run by 18 seconds, which I know I will pass next time. I am extremely happy to say that I improved significantly in each event despite the fact that we did the test in the rain and mud.
Q: How long have you been a member at Aevitas?
Ty: I started at Aevitas in July 2021.
Lana: I started at Aevitas in September 2021 attending VitaFit and started crossfit in January.
Q: What is your favorite thing about Aevitas?
Ty: Great team, great athletes, hosts a competitive environment without the toxicity that other gyms have.
Lana: The community. From the other members to the coaches, EVERYONE is so friendly and willing to encourage me to do my best. If I have a terrible day, I know that going for a workout will cheer me up because of the fantastic community Aevitas offers.
Q: Favorite movement we do at the gym and why?
Ty: Squats, burpees, toes to bars; tough movements to sustain, great for the entire body.
Lana: Deadlift and power clean. The deadlift is the most natural and most effortless movement, so I enjoy it. But the power clean is the most challenging for me and takes the most effort to execute correctly, so I also consider it a favorite.
Q: Least favorite movement you do at the gym and why?
Ty: Burpees and handstand push ups; require lots of practice and are quite exhausting.
Lana: Wall Balls, because it's honestly the most challenging for me and triggers my asthma, but I know it’s probably good for me.
Q: What skill/ability are you hoping to improve on?
Ty: Running, and knee recovery.
Lana: I really hope to improve on my running, and my overall strength and agility.
Q: What are some of your interests and hobbies outside of the gym?
Ty: Golf is a huge one, traveling, rock climbing, pool, swimming, hockey games.
Lana: Music, photography, and video editing are a big part of my life. I can go hours editing videos and never get bored. I am also a big fan of food and love trying new meals and restaurants.
Q: In one word, how would your family describe you to the rest of us?
Q: Favorite music to WOD to?
Ty: Huge metal fan, but not everyone's flavor.
Lana: Anything Rock!
Ty and Lana, we are so proud of your achievements in these physical fitness tests! Your success is no doubt attributable to all the hard work you both put in at Aevitas. Thanks so much for taking the time to share a bit about yourself with the rest of us.
And from our entire community, thank you for serving our country. We are so happy to have you in our community!