Contractors, civil servants, and military at the Air Force Research Laboratory take advantage of an on-site gym to make fitness a priority during lunch. In addition to a daily basketball game, there are currently four different classes offered at the gym – spinning, CrossFit, Zumba and Aikido. 3 of those 4 classes are taught by ERC employees. Currently, roughly 20% of the people on the RPS2 contract include lunchtime exercise in their daily routines.
CrossFit is the principal strength and conditioning program for many police academies and tactical operations teams, military special operations units, champion martial artists, and hundreds of other elite and professional athletes worldwide. CrossFit delivers a fitness that is, by design, broad, general, and inclusive. The fitness program’s specialty is not specializing.
ERC family member Josiah Reams has been leading CrossFit workouts daily during lunchtime for 10 months. These workouts utilize functional movements performed at a high intensity. The positive group environment has been essential for pushing participants to reach this intensity during workouts, to keep each other consistent with the workouts, and to stay motivated to reach individual fitness goals. The gains in strength, endurance and flexibility Josiah sees in the CrossFit group members during workouts and the positive feedback he hears from them makes teaching CrossFit rewarding.
Feedback from ERC’s Brett Wight:
“What can I say about Crossfit? After the first day of doing lunges, I never wanted to try it again because of the muscle cramps. But now? If I don’t get to do Crossfit, it affects my mood. It is really that much fun (really!!! in a social way) and the uplifting feeling you get after the workout helps me be more productive the rest of the day. I never feel tired after the lunchtime workout. I am 46 years old and after 10 months have gained about 10 pounds of muscle and lost about 20 pounds of fat. I have muscle that I have never had before (did you know there is muscle outside the rib cage???) and the back aches that were due to a weak core have all but completely gone away.”
The AFRL Edwards Aikido Club was founded by James Reuster circa 2003. Upon James’ relocation to Ames for ERC’s STRAD contract in 2011, his senior student, Steve Chambreau, took over as the club’s head instructor. Over the last 10+ years, the club has grown from its humble beginnings consisting of 2 students with no martial arts training that met at infrequent intervals, to a permanent lunchtime fixture that has trained dozens of students, with alumni spread across the entire country. The club trains on Mondays and Wednesdays in the AFRL gym aerobics room, which has large athletic mats for practicing throws and falls. The club currently has 2 black belts, 2 brown belts, one yellow belt and three white belts, who just joined in May. The training teaches students to defend themselves using a variety of releases, throws, arm bars and wrist locks. The primary concepts include how to avoid an attack and how to use your opponent’s strength and speed against them. The club is open to men and women of all ages, body types and abilities.
Zumba is a Latin inspired fitness program that combines dance and aerobic activity to provide a high energy workout. In addition to helping out with CrossFit and teaching Zumba externally for 3 years, ERC family member Kara Mbuko has been teaching Zumba 2 to 3 days a week at AFRL for two years. Kara loves fitness and Zumba allows her a way to inspire and lead others to living a healthier lifestyle while having fun. Zumba can often be a foot in the door into a fit lifestyle. Many men and women have taken Kara’s class as their first attempt at getting into shape and over time, they end up wanting more. This allows Kara to teach them more about healthy living and resistance training to help them achieve their fitness goals.
Feedback from ERC’s Shelley White:
“I have been going to Zumba for 2 years. Prior to Zumba I would walk on the treadmill or walk/run the track. Both are good for burning calories but both are completely boring. I would work out in sessions. One month I would do really well, and then I wouldn’t work out for several months and on went a cycle for many more years than I care to admit. Then I found Zumba. Zumba makes me want to work out. I have so much fun while I’m doing Zumba that it doesn’t seem like working out to me. Since Zumba, I have been working out regularly, and I absolutely hate to miss a class. I even schedule my life around it as much as possible.
Thanks to Kara Mbuko, who teaches our Zumba classes at AFRL, I have found something that I can do on a constant basis to burn off calories and have fun while I do it. Kara constantly brings in new routines that keep the Zumba classes fresh and exciting. Her classes give me energy and help me focus better during the second part of the day, when normally I would get sleepy and need sugar or caffeine. I believe I may be addicted to Zumba, but hey, it’s better than a lot of other things I could be addicted to.”