By Julie M. Lucas
NAS Jacksonville Public Affairs

Millions are spent yearly by Americans for fitness equipment, personal trainers and gym memberships. By having access to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, patrons are able to enjoy numerous fitness classes for free.

Fitness instructors at NAS Jax live by a motto: "You don't get what you wish for, you get what you work for." Fourteen variations of classes are offered starting at 6:16 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Mondays-Fridays and two classes on Saturdays for people of every fitness level.

"Chances are, your first class may be harder than you anticipated at first but stick with it," said Fitness, Sports and Aquatics Director Ric Pierce. "Our main goal is to help you succeed in yours."

Pierce himself is an instructor of Muscle Max, which is described as a head to toe sculpting class, using a variety of equipment, circuits and Tabata. This class incorporates step, weights, lunges, squats and dips and is offered Monday-Friday at multiple times. Classes offered on the base begin with a warm-up to get heart rates up and muscles ready. After class, stretching is also stressed.

"I like intense interval classes with great music, whether it's strength/conditioning or spin," Pierce said. "High intensity interval training gets your metabolism up and raises growth hormone levels for hours after you exercise so it is the right way to build lean muscle as well as to lose weight and keep it off." 

 H.I.T. or high intensity training is offered Mondays-Thursdays at various times. These classes feature a work out of the day and are scaled for any fitness level. Instructor Stacy Gartner says she enjoys this class the most because you can see a "massive transformation." A similar class is called TRX and works with suspension cables using your bodyweight. This training increases flexibility, balance, mobility and prevents injuries.

For the early birds, the first class in the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays is spin at 6:15 a.m. This is one of the lower-impact classes and is also offered at lunch time, in the afternoon and on Saturday. Some of the instructors prefer to turn the lights down during class for a unique experience.

Yoga is offered in a few variations from basics to power. While the basic class, turns the lights low so that participants can focus on postures and correct alignment, Power Yoga in more intense using Vinyasa for intermediate to advanced fitness levels. Yoga classes are held in the morning and at noon several different days.

For those that want to show off their dance skills, Zumba might be up their alley. The classes are offered several times daily and incorporates latin music moves like salsa, cha-cha, mambo and merengue for an enjoyable experience. 

One fitness instructor says this class isn't necessarily for those who are dance professionals.

"Many people are afraid to try Zumba because they think they can't dance, uncoordinated or have no rhythm but I tell them it is not about dancing, coordination or rhythm but more about achieving cardio fitness," said Terry Crawford.

Crawford has been teaching fitness classes for more than 15 years and can be seen in the evening at the Fitness Center often teaching back-to-back classes. "If my class is not sweating, cheering or having a good time, then I'm not doing my job."

Cardio Jam is another dance type class, with hip hop, island fusion moves to keep the pounds off. Most of the classes offered on the base, the instructors choreograph themselves. 

HydroMax is a low-impact workout in the pool at the gym, but swimming is not required. This is a great aerobic and cardiovascular exercise with no joint impact. The class is held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:30 a.m.

While some may say classes are geared toward women, one instructor said that more than half her classes are taken by men, to include yoga.

"These classes are designed for anyone but they require an open mind," said Stacy Gartner, group fitness and command physical training coordinator.

"Almost any fitness class can be modified to fit all fitness levels and if you are in doubt, speak with the instructor before class for recommendations."

Youths ages 10-14 are able to participate in group fitness classes while accompanied by an adult at all times. Classes are not held during Morale, Welfare and Recreation special events and Federal holidays and holiday weekends.

Command classes are offered by certified trainers. Contact stacy.gartner@navy.mil to make reservations one week in advance.

Class schedules and hours of operation can be found inside the gym and fitness center or online at www.navymwrjacksonville.com under Fitness and Recreation on both the gym and fitness pages.