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PT helps Coalition partners stay fit

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

SOUTHWEST ASIA (Aug. 22, 2004) -- Airmen who want to get in shape, have fun and meet members of the Coalition couldn’t get a better opportunity than a fitness class that offers all three of those things.

The class, called “Combat Aerobics,” is taught by Coalition members, including a British physical training instructor and an American security forces specialist.

“What we offer is a fun way to get in shape,” said U. S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jeffery Martin, one of the class instructors. “We offer a variety of routines and a total body workout.”

Bronwyn Howell, also a leader for the class, said the course is one more fitness option for deployed troops.

“We tried to add a new physical training option for our guys here, to help increase the range of fitness opportunities, “ she said. “This is designed to help people improve their overall level of fitness.”

With three instructors, each leading the class participants on a different night of the week, the fitness routines always vary, said the United Kingdom’s instructor, Royal Air Force Corporal David Worboys.

“Every session is different,” he said. “ It doesn’t look structured, but it is designed to maximize participation. Everybody encourages each other during the class. We sometimes use weights, steppers or medicine balls. But really, we don’t need a lot of equipment to do what we do.”

The main portion of the class involves a lot of traditional exercises that don’t require any equipment other than a mat. Class participants do a lot of pushups, running, squats, and crunches.

One night, class participants paired up to complete their exercises in a circuit-training format. While one partner did a set of exercises, the other ran. When one’s set of exercises were completed, the two switched.

The partners went back and forth for a little over 30 minutes, until each had completed 100 crunches, 81 squats, 64 pushups and a myriad of other exercises.

“Everything hurts the next day,” said RAF Sgt. Richard Gibbon, a regular at the class. “This is my main fitness program while I am here. And this is brilliant, really, it brings us together like a big family.”

While a big benefit of the class is that it brings together Coalition partners for some multi-national physical training, the primary goal is to get people healthy.

“This is an easy way to get a lot of people fit in a small space,” said RAF Corporal Worboys, “We are trying to help people lose weight and maintain an overall level of fitness.”

Sergeant Martin said the class helps Airmen meet a fitness goal that’s been on most people’s minds since late last year.

“According to the Air Force policy, you are supposed to be given time during the duty day to do fitness, but sometimes that can’t happen,” he said. “In less than an hour here, we can give you the total body workout you are going to need to pass the physical training standard set by the Air Force.”

Until recently, the class had been held in the former “Camp Andy” portion of the installation. At that time, as many as 30 individuals would show up to participate in the class.

After the class moved, the number of participants dwindled down to less than ten. Sergeant Martin said that decrease in numbers is unfortunate, because the value of the class increases as more people participate.

“Everybody works together here to increase their overall fitness,” Sergeant Martin said. “The more people we have participating, the more encouragement we have to push people forward to do better.”

Anybody can participate in the Combat Aerobics course. It is offered three times a week, Saturdays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1830, at the RED HORSE pad at the far back corner of Coalition Compound.