Boot camp classes are offered at many health clubs across the country, but members and guests of one Florida Y recently have been getting a truly authentic taste of military fitness training.
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Currea, an Army recruitment officer, joined the Winter Haven (FL) YMCA shortly after first lady Michelle Obama’s announcement, in May, of an initiative that offers free health club memberships to military service members and their families. Currea, who already has served his country with two tours in Iraq, now volunteers to serve his community by leading a weekly fitness class at the nonprofit facility.
The Y promotes Currea’s class, called U.S. Army Circuit Training, through its online group exercise schedule and on a message board in the facility that highlights new programs. Staff also spread the word, encouraging members who they know want to accomplish certain goals or who like to push themselves to check it out.
The class has become popular quickly, says Theresa Sessions, the facility’s executive director.
“We do several different circuit training classes and have run boot camp classes, too, but I think what makes this one stand out is just that Staff Sgt. Currea has a fantastic personality,” Sessions says. “He’s very disciplined, very positive and motivating. His personal spin on it definitely attracts people.”
Regular participants range from teenagers to members in their early 50s, but Sessions says that the class draws slightly more female members.
“It’s a good mix of everyone,” she says. “We also typically have two or three young men attend who are getting ready to leave for basic training soon and want to do some pre-conditioning.”
Although Currea’s commanding officer is aware that he leads the class, and staff members of the recruiting center have assisted with other YMCA fitness events in the past, the circuit training class is not part of a formal partnership with the U.S. Army. Currea volunteers at the class as a member of the community.
“The Y has a very long history of working with volunteers and we have a volunteer advisory board,” Sessions says, “It’s part of the culture, people wanting to help and give back to their community.”
Other community members have volunteered to serve as basketball coaches and flag football referees, or to help out in the facility’s fitness center or summer camps, Sessions says, adding that all volunteers are subjected to thorough background checks.