JBLM Soldiers, Families dancing to new beat

By Sgt. Adam Keith on February 7, 2013

Soldiers in the 593rd Special Troops Battalion invited their Families to Wilson Sports and Fitness Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord for an opportunity to dance and sweat during a Zumba workout Feb. 1.

The event was part of the battalion's family fitness program, which focuses on promoting fitness as well as giving Families the opportunity to see what their loved ones do during physical training, said Lt. Col. Dina S. Wandler, commander of the 593rd STB.

"When we first started it we didn't know we would get this kind of reception," Wandler said. "We've gotten a lot of good feedback from our Families and they love being able to see their Soldiers do physical training and be a part of it."

This particular session of PT featured loud music, energetic instructors, and a lot of sweat thanks to the intense Zumba workout.

"It was very energetic, there was a lot of excitement and it was a lot of fun," said Spc. John R. Ripley, armorer with the 140th Movement Control Team. "Some people were slow to start because they didn't know all of the moves, but they started to get into it as time went along."

Ripley, who described himself as extremely uncoordinated, said the volunteer instructors made it easy to pick up the moves and keep up with the workout by starting off slow, then slowly picking up the pace as the workout progressed.

"It made me want to try to dance, and it was fun watching my battle buddies fumbling and trying to dance while being uncoordinated like me," Ripley said. "But there were others who had all the coordination in the world and they were rocking it."

Another benefit of the program is that it gets Soldiers out of the normal cycle of PT that might focus on push ups and sit ups and lets them try something new, said Wandler.

"I like it when the unit breaks out of the everyday routine, it's fun and it's different," Ripley said. "It's not just the same old bend and reach everyday."

Ripley said he believes that experiencing different types of physical training like Zumba is important for Soldier fitness because it can introduce Soldiers to workouts they might not be familiar with and gives them the confidence to break out of their usual routine and discover new physical activities that they enjoy.

"This is a good way to spend your Saturday morning, and it shows Soldiers that there's more to working out than just lifting weights," Wandler said.

She said she hopes to continue the program and that she could see the unit coming out to try Zumba in the future.

"It was a great workout, and the volunteers were incredible," said Wandler. "It is awesome that they come out here and do this as often as they do. I would definitely do it again."