Commentary

January 23, 2014

A love-hate relationship

Commentary by Staff Sgt. Heather Redman
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

It’s 10:40, and the smell of floor cleaner and body funk welcomes me as I enter into the Haeffner Fitness Center. The Airman working the desk gives me the customary welcome nod as I walk by. It has just occurred to me that I have become one of the lunch time regulars.

I enter into the locker room. There seems to be more people than usual, a reminder that a new year has just begun. I can’t help but ask myself how long will their resolutions last. And, how long before I start to make excuses not go to the gym?

Working out is about as much fun to me as dusting, vacuuming, and doing homework. Although working out is much more satisfying, it’s a feeling I receive only after it’s over.

Growing up in a world of instant gratification often spoils you. If I’m hungry I hit the drive thru, if I want to know what’s going on in the world I open one of my news apps, if I’m bored I have 300 channels to choose from and countless movies on-demand. I admire those people who prefer physical actives over a Pawn Stars marathon, but I’m just not that kind of girl.

I head to the spin room. The lights are off. Why? A question I’m always asking myself. Is it to keep the room cool or because if we saw what we really looked like in the mirror we would never return?

I find a bike at the back of the class. I don’t know anyone there. Over the past five years I’ve spent in the military I’ve noticed my single friends marry and have kids. I’ve chosen to wait until I’m financially, mentally, and emotionally ready to start a family. At this rate I might never be ready and I’m okay with that, but my choices have put a wedge in my social life. I no longer have much in common with the people I was closest to.

I spend the first couple of minutes adjusting the seat and the handlebar of the bike. Being five-foot- one, most of the bike seats need to be lowered so I can reach the pedals. I’m convinced Davis-Monthan AFB has been over-run by giants who religiously attend spin class in the mornings.

I start pedaling. There’s ten minutes to go before class starts and the dreaded hamstring pull scares me more than a B-rated horror movie. I don’t want to be warmed up; I need to be warmed up. Five minutes before class starts and I’m already tired.

“GET READY,” the instructor yells across the class of spinners. HIIT Cycling is about to get real.

High intensity interval training (HIIT) cycling class consists of 60-seconds of high intensity cycling, followed by 90-seconds of low intensity cycling, repeated for the entire 30-minute class. The great thing about HIIT training is it can improve all four components of PT test performance, in a fraction of the time needed for more traditional training. Because you control the resistance and the speed it is a challenge for every fitness level.

“GO, GO, GO, GO,” the instructor yells. That’s our queue to adjust our resistance to the heaviest we can handle and pedal as fast as we possibly can.

I’m pedaling as fast as I possibly can. I can tell my feet are flying, an indicator that I’m obviously not at a high enough resistance. The instructor yells at the 30-second mark, and I adjust the resistance mid- stride to the point that my feet are keeping beat with the music. At 20-seconds I can feel myself starting to slow down. At 10-seconds to go, I push as fast as I can; I need to make up for the 20-seconds of slack.

“And relax,” the instructor’s voice is soothing after an entire minute pure of torture.

The 90-second rest is the best part of the class. It’s a time to catch your breath and grab a sip of water. I look around at all the faces of my classmates; no one looks about as tired as I feel. This was the first of twenty intervals.

The next 20-minutes are a blur. I’m lost in the music. Rock-n-Roll is a great music choice to keep my speed on track throughout the class. At this moment the instructor is nothing more to me than a time keeper. “I got this,” I keep telling myself.

“Only three intervals left so don’t save anything. PUSH IT,” the instructor voice booms through the room. His voice served as merely a reminder for the past 20-minutes, and has now turned into a cruel taunt. A reminder that you’re near the end but it’s not over. At this point all I really want to do is punch him in his face. But I keep going.

The last interval is the hardest, if you are doing it right. The resistance is almost more than my body can tolerate. I’m trying to keep time with the music playing but it feels like I’m pedaling through chunky peanut butter. I’m now taunting myself. I look at the mirror in the dimly lit room and I can barely recognize myself. The sweat pouring down my face forces my makeup to pool at the corners of my eyes. It burns and serves as a remaindered to buy water proof mascara. My t-shirt is now three shades darker from the sweat. My eyes have a look of sheer determination and pain. I have 20-seconds left and I push harder and start cursing at myself in the mirror, at 10-seconds left I have reached pure exhaustion and I feel like I’ve pedaled my last.

“Alright, relax, you’re all done,” the instructor’s voice now sounds like a choir of angels. It is the most beautiful words spoken at just the right time. I look around at all the sweat glimmering faces, we are all exhausted but none of us are defeated.

As I stagger back to the locker room, legs burning, I ask myself why I keep go back. There are three answers. It’s convenient; a thirty minute class during my lunch period gets me back to my work center by noon. It’s motivating; every class I attend I feel like I will never complete, yet somehow I do. Finally, I do it because I am an Airman.

It is every Airman’s responsibility to maintain the physical standards set forth in Air Force Instruction 36-2905. Leading an active lifestyle helps increase productivity, optimizes health, and decreases absenteeism while maintaining a higher level of readiness. Being physically fit allows you to properly support the Air Force mission.

For more information on HIIT Cycle and other fitness programs on Davis-Monthan AFB please visit http://www.dmforcesupport.com/Fitness/Fitness.html.




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Courtney Richardson)

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