The West Fitness Center’s tactical fitness team zealously supports the overall fitness of service members and their families.
Although the WFC has a plethora of fitness equipment and programs for active duty, Reserve, Department of Defense employees and military family members, the fitness instructors work ensure that Tactical Fitness participants get the most out of their time in the gym.
Andre Winstead, one half of the 11th Force Support Squadron’s Tactical Fitness instructor team, explained that Tactical Fitness shares some similarities with CrossFit workouts.
“Like in CrossFit, Tactical Fitness aims to increase the athlete’s overall level of fitness in ten general areas - cardiorespiratory endurance, strength, stamina, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, accuracy, agility, and balance. The workouts change daily, utilize functional movements, and put more emphasis on intensity than duration,” said Winstead, who teaches the Tactical Fitness class six days per week. “By functional movements, I mean movements that may be mimicked in everyday life, such as a dead lift, like maybe stooping down and picking up two heavy bags of groceries, or a squat - essentially sitting and standing,” said Winstead, a former American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, certified CrossFit Level One trainer and certified CrossFit Kettlebell instructor.
Winstead knows the program, and he’s not above breaking a sweat.
“Usually I don’t work out with the class, as my main purpose for being there is to instruct the athlete and ensure they are doing the exercises correctly and not doing anything to injure themself. But, I also feel it’s important to let them know I can do what I’m asking them to do, so if I feel comfortable that they know what to do and I don’t have to monitor them, I’ll sometimes work out with them,” Winstead said.
Tactical Fitness attempts to breed excellence through competition. Some sessions are geared “for time”: the workout takes as long as each person needs to finish. Participants compete for the best time, while using proper technique. Another Tactical Fitness challenge could be to complete as many rounds as possible (AMRAP) in the time allotted. There’s usually a prescribed weight, but if the prescribed weight, rounds, or reps are too challenging or too easy, the workout can be modified.
Sabine Lopez, the other half of the Tactical Fitness team, has extensive teaching qualifications which include - Personal Trainer Certification (Aerobics & Fitness Association of America), Group Training Certification (AFAA), Certified Personal Trainer (The Cooper Institute), CrossFit Certified Level One, LeMond Certified Cycle Instructor and Air Force Certified Physical Training Leader.
Lopez has earned a reputation as the most personable, customer-focused member of the Fitness Center staff.
“My philosophy is to never say never, because when I first receive some people into my class they can’t even jump with one foot onto the box,” said Lopez, referring to a wooden box used during Tactical Fitness workouts. “But these same people who are in my class after two or three weeks start to noticeably improve. All of a sudden, they can perform multiple jumps with greater elevation while jumping onto the box. The next thing I know they’re coming to me excited and amazed at themselves saying they never knew that would accomplish that one feat. And when I see that smile, or they give me a hand slap/handshake, or give me that look when they say they’ve completed something that they never thought possible, it just gives me that satisfaction of man, I’m doing my job!”
Lopez enjoys motivating her class participants to do their best, while ensuring they do it safely.
“I have people who’ve done this program regularly and those who just started, but I start everybody from the same baseline,” said Lopez.
Senior Airman Emiliana Esquivel, 775th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Force member currently deployed to Joint Base Andrews, credits participation in the Tactical Fitness class for the noticeable improvement in her physical strength and cardiovascular health.
“I’ve been taking the tactical fitness class since I arrived in mid-January and I’ve noticed a great improvement. I feel stronger with all of the exercises I do every week,” said Esquivel, an avid runner. “I really feel that it’s improved my running, even though I was already a good runner. Tactical Fitness here has been a learning experience, because in the past I was kind of skeptical about this type of training, but its proven me wrong. I measured myself before I started and I just measured myself recently and I’ve lost four inches, overall. It also has improved my upper and lower body strength. Ultimately, this program has shown me that I’m not as in good a shape as I thought and it has improved my fitness on a lot of levels.”
Esquivel said she will continue to use what she has learned when she returns to her parent command and gave rave reviews to the training methods used by the Tactical Fitness instructors.
“Both Sabine and Andre are really great! Sabine is more outspoken and motivational, and Andre is motivational too, but he doesn’t let you get away with anything. He pushes, and tells you, “you’re gonna do it!” They both have their own techniques and that’s what makes both them so great!”
Lopez said that each class of 20 to 25 people includes several participants who have never done the program. She works with each individual at their own level of experience and fitness.
“My greatest feeling comes whenever I hear people say they’ve improved or lost inches off their waist; that makes me feel amazing! I try to let them know I’m there for them,” said Lopez. “I feel like the gym is my home, and I try to make sure I always take care of my guests.”