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Weight loss boot camp

Just one of the many free services available through Buckner

Sharon McBride
Fort Richardson PAO

Sharon McBrideI just want to start out by saying I haven’t done pushups in more than a year.

I hate pushups. After I got out of the Army, I swore I would never do them again.

I also hate running.

But sadly, that’s the only thing helping me keep my weight down. So, after exiting the Army in December 2006, running is the only thing I kept doing exercise wise, that is until life got in the way.

By life, I mean work.

Most civilian bosses really don’t care how fast you can run two miles, so as a consequence, being fit really doesn’t matter. 

In a lot of ways, I found this kind of nice, because as a Soldier, I never really ran well. It didn’t matter if I worked hard at it or the type of training I did, I had one speed – slow.

Even the guy who smoked two packs a day, drank like a fish and never ran unless he was being graded always did better than me.

You know the guy I’m talking about.

There’s always one Soldier in every unit who manages to avoid company PT sessions at all costs, but always ends up doing really well on the PT test.

No one really knows for sure how he does it, but he’s always thin, fit and runs like the wind.

By the way, I intensely dislike those guys too. 

Eventually, I started gaining weight.

Which really shouldn’t be surprising, since most people do gain weight when they work 50 to 60 hours a week, eat nothing but junk food, go to school, take care of a house, take care of a child, sleep, commute two hours, do homework, and never really seem to have time to workout.

But that’s all about to change.

I decided to participate in the free Weight Loss Boot Camp put on by the fitness specialists who work at Fort Richardson’s Buckner Physical Fitness Center.

The six-week program is offered outside for three days a week, rain or shine.

To date, more than 170 people have signed up for it.

Anyone 12 and older who has a Department of Defense identification card and access to BPFC can participate.

Monday was the first day.

We did pushups. We did squats. We did situps. We ran.

They timed us during each of the events and told us to do as many repetitions as we could. The run was timed. I felt like I was in the Army again…well almost.

I did modified pushups because of an old, nagging back injury, did a lame amount of situps, and I thought I was going to die on the run.

So as I traverse through the next six weeks of the program, I will write a weekly article in the Alaska Post to keep everyone updated not only on my progress, but everyone else’s in the class too.

However, I won’t name anyone in class by name, unless of course their results are so phenomenal they want me to. 

So far people of every shape, size and fitness level have signed up for the program, which is designed to make everyone improve no matter what their current fitness level is. And judging from the excited chatter around me on Monday, most expect this program to deliver.

The instructors, Dan Kehlenbach, Linda Neely and Al Alston, have put together a great “boot camp” program that rivals those available through gyms and fitness centers downtown that cost hundreds of dollars.

Did I mention BPFC’s program is completely free?

And despite the first day, which will be used as a starting point assessment for everyone, the program will not be the same old boring exercises most of us fall into out of habit.

No daily dozen set of pushups, situps and running for me.

The instructors plan on mixing it up, by incorporating items like agility ladders, agility rings, weighted kettle bells, hurdles, cones and tubing.

What exactly are these items and what does using each of them entail?

I don’t know. I promise to write about it in future articles.

The cool thing is, after this six-week program is over, all those items will be available to checkout for free at the BPFC front counter.

Each hour-long session will consist of three parts: warm-up, cardio and flexibility improvement. All the classes are designed to progress on a weekly basis and promise to engage the entire body and its systems to improve agility, coordination, strength and cardio, Kehlenbach said.

“It will be an action-packed hour,” Kehlenbach said. “It will be fun and it will go by fast.”

The other cool thing about this program, besides being completely free, is the instructors always demonstrate a modified example of how to perform each exercise to accommodate for injuries (both current and old) or for different levels of individual fitness.

At all times, everyone is encouraged to exercise at his or her own level, and not to “compete.”

“It’s our goal to make sure everyone will get something from this program,” Kehlenbach said. “But we want everyone to be safe while doing it and workout to their own comfort level.”

Depending on the success of this initial program, and using feedback given by those who participate, more programs tailored to mirror those offered by off-post gyms and fitness centers for hundreds of dollars will be added to the BPFC schedule, explained Neely.

“We want to put together a comprehensive program that rivals what is offered off-post,” she said. 

Sounds good to me; saving money while improving my fitness, weight and health while getting to write about it?

Sometimes I really like my job.