On Friday at 4 a.m., 400 USAA employees took part in "Zero Day Physical Training" before the sun began to rise.
"A big part of [Zero Day] is taking the individual and breaking that down and building them back up as a team," said Meghan Anderson, the USAA director of performance optimization. "There is chaos and disorientation. We want to give them that and, in a few hours, build them up to be a team."
In the military, Zero Day is the first day of physical training. Of the 400 workers on the field, 100 are current or retired military members. For the other 300 civilian workers, the morning workout gave them an intense lesson on the people they serve.
"Many have not served," said John Bird, USAA's senior vice president of military affairs. "This gives them a small taste of what it's like to be in the military."
"It's incredibly powerful," said Allison Treharne, a USAA social business team member. "It was incredibly humbling to experience, just to get a taste of what our members go through on a daily basis for days, weeks, and months at a time. It was hard going through it for a couple of hours."
At the end of the three-hour workout, employees earned a dog tag. It is a reminder of what they went through and the people they hope to help every day.