Military News

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Fitness classes challenge JBER personnel to reach new heights

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

3/19/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Fitness centers on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are now offering free, high-intensity, body-weight workout classes with professional instructors throughout the week at Buckner and Elmendorf physical fitness centers.

The workouts consist of three blocks containing four 30-second exercises and 30-second rests between blocks. Each block focuses on a different aspect of fitness.
"The first section is plyometrics, which involves a lot of jumping," said Juan Vargas, fitness instructor for the Force Support Squadron and Air Force veteran. "The second section is strength, and the third is coordination and balance, which requires more use of the brain.

"It's not just legs, upper body or cardio, it's a full body workout," Vargas said. "It's a great way to get the cardio improvement that is so important in military [physical training] tests."

For those who need low-impact exercises, there are modified versions of the exercises available. Individuals new to the exercises or not comfortable performing the default versions may find these modifications helpful while they increase their proficiency.
"I have men and women ranging [in age] from 20 to 80 in my classes," said Gloria Schiers, primary high-intensity instructor for the FSS.

"It doesn't matter what level you are at, you walk out of my class sweating."

Some may be nervous or intimidated by going to a high-intensity fitness class in a military setting, but the classes are designed to benefit everyone, regardless of fitness level, Schiers said.

"There's nobody in your face, yelling at you and degrading you," Vargas said. "The fact that you're there means you are already doing better than 50 percent of the population.

"I love to see people push themselves to their own limits," Schiers said.

"By going hard for two minutes and only resting for 30 seconds, it keeps your cardiovascular system running at a higher level and burning more calories for longer," Vargas said.

These classes use exclusively body-weight exercises, which means there is no need to purchase or bring any type of special equipment in order to get the full benefits of the workout.

Because the exercises do not require any additional materials, participants can continue to do these exercises at home if they choose to. "This is something you can do at home or in a hotel room while [on temporary duty]," Vargas said.

While the exercises can be performed at home, some may find the group environment to be more productive for dedicated fitness improvement.

"Working out in a group creates a better atmosphere," Schiers said. "You get an emotional high from the other people around you."

"Whether you are looking for support, or you are more competitive type who wants to beat the instructor it doesn't matter," Vargas said. "People come to the class because the group setting helps motivate them. You don't get that kind of encouragement working out alone," Schiers said.

Vargas said they created the class in January because they knew many service members were doing programs like this at home on their own anyway. By providing these classes in a group setting, there are two distinct advantages.

It's free, so it saves service members money; and it's safer environment for people to push their limits because they have others there to support them if something happens.

Classes like this normally come with a fee or contract, but at JBER, they are free to service members and their families.

Schiers teaches classes at both Buckner and Elmendorf fitness centers throughout the week. Individuals who are pregnant or injured should consult their doctors before attempting these classes.

For information on how to get plugged in with these classes or other free fitness opportunities, visit FSS's website at, or call the fitness center of your choice. Calendars are also available at the front desk of each fitness center.

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