Military wives dance to the tune of fitness

22 Feb 2007 | Lance Cpl. Patrick M. Fleischman

Put some weight on over the winter? Want to kick up your current fitness program? Looking for a place to meet some new people? Well Marine Corps Community Services has a program for you.

FITMAR Wife is a fitness class for military dependants that uses dance as a medium to get in shape, said Lauren Hill, instructor of the class.

“I hate to exercise, and this is the only way I can do it,” said Jennifer Mullins, 20, a proficient dancer and student in the class. “Lauren is funny and her personality is positive making the classes seem to fly by.”

The first 15 minutes of the hour-long class is about teaching the participants how to execute the dance steps correctly with emphasis on what part of their body that particular step is toning, explains hill.

After a small warm-up, the class moves through some dance routines concluding with a cool-down walk and stretching, said Hill.

The classes workout is challenging enough for someone who has a familiarity with dancing and easy enough for a someone with no experience to pickup, said Hill

“I have rheumatoid arthritis, so I can’t do a high impact workout,” said Kathy Allen, 53, a new comer to dancing and student in the class. “This helps get my blood going and it really helps to loosen up my tight joints.”

Classes are more then just a workout, explained Hill.

“I knew some of the ladies in the class prior to the class starting; their husbands had just deployed and most of them would be gone for 12 to 13 months,” said Hill. “When they started taking the class, I noticed that their stress was going away. We talk about their goals for the next year. We talk about how much our "guys" are all alike. For the girls who have husbands returning in April, we talk about how excited they are and their plans for when their guy returns.
But really, the conversation can vary to anything from who we saw on American Idol the night before to reruns of a Seinfeld episode. The point is we are all women who have a lot in common, with common goals.”

Hill’s motivation to run the class stems from her own personal experiences.

“When we were transferred to North Carolina, I went from a fit, healthy eating Californian, to 15 pounds overweight and eating things that were not healthy at all,” said Hill. “I was so homesick for California and there was nothing to do in this town. I was new to the Corps, and suddenly found myself in a part of the country that didn't fit my lifestyle. I was like a fish out of water.”

This would not continue for long, explained Hill.

“I kept seeing so many Marines deploy, and thought, at least the wives with children will be busy while their husbands are gone, but for others with nothing to do around here, it could get pretty depressing,” said Hill. “So I kept thinking, there must be other wives who feel like I do. Though my husband is not deployed, I would still like to get into the shape I was when we met and get back into those size 6 jeans. So as a dance instructor, I decided to start a class to get back in shape, and I thought, maybe we could have classes with a whole unit of wives who get in shape while their husbands are deployed - sort of a group effort - and surprise the guys when they get home.”

For more information on how you can become a FITMAR wife call Midway Park Community Center at 451-1807 or the Tarawa Terrace II Community Center at 450-1687.

There is a fee of $35 a month or $5 each time a person comes to class. Paying the $5 per class option will require students to call before each class to make sure there is room available.

Classes are available at the following locations and times: Midway Park Community Center Monday and Wednesday 1 p.m. to 2 p.m., Tarawa Terrace II Community Center Monday and Wednesday 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Tuesday and Thursday 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

Students are advised to wear t-shirts, sweat pants or leggings, socks and sneakers.  There are mats available at no charge to use during the floor stretches and cool down but attendees are encouraged to bring a towel to lie over the mat, concluded Hill.