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The Mountaineer Online

Fort Drum instructors say ‘Let’s Move’ to fitness beat

Aqua Zumba instructor Holly Rubacha, left, teaches a class Feb. 10 at Fort Drum's Monti Physical Fitness Center. The aerobic and fitness routine is similar to traditional Zumba, but because of water resistance it has the potential for participants to burn more calories during the workout.  Photo by Jennifer Caprioli.
Aqua Zumba instructor Holly Rubacha, left, teaches a class Feb. 10 at Fort Drum's Monti Physical Fitness Center. The aerobic and fitness routine is similar to traditional Zumba, but because of water resistance it has the potential for participants to burn more calories during the workout.  Photo by Jennifer Caprioli.

Jennifer Caprioli

Staff Writer

Recently, people across the nation have started a movement to get fit and stay healthy. One of the most recognized initiatives is first lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, which focuses on creating a healthier generation of children.

But what about those who are not children and weren’t fortunate enough to join a “get moving” crusade as a youngster? What can they do to get fit, feel good and most importantly, be healthier?

For starters, they could join a gym. And military ID cardholders may not know it, but they’re already considered a member of the fitness centers at Fort Drum.

The installation is home to two facilities that are available to anyone from trainee to gym junkie, as long as they’re ID cardholders: Magrath Sports Complex and Monti Physical Fitness Center.

Magrath is home to basketball, volleyball and racquetball courts; an indoor pool; saunas, an indoor running track; and an exercise room equipped with weightlifting equipment and cardiovascular machines.

Monti PFC provides similar facilities as Magrath, as well a variety of aerobics and fitness classes on weekdays.

The staff at Monti began offering basic aerobics and fitness classes about seven years ago, but they required a fee and drew little interest from the Fort Drum community, according to Monica Smith, fitness director at Monti PCF. She said participation became more active once they introduced more popular classes, at no cost.

“Zumba was probably our jump-start (program) about a year an a half ago,” Smith said. “As soon as the classes were free and we (added) the more trendy classes, everything pumped up quickly.”

The most popular of the 16 classes offered at the facility is Zumba, which is a combination of Latin and international dance music that features aerobic and fitness interval training.

“Our evening classes are quite large,” Smith said, noting the class averages about 40 participants per session.

More than 20 Zumba classes meet each month, as opposed to the other classes, which meet 10-15 times per month.

Trisha Burns, B Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment Family Readiness Group leader, attends Zumba and Zumba toning classes to help with her weight-loss goals. She attends classes with friends, because, “we make ourselves accountable by going together.”

Smith, who describes Zumba as “camaraderie program,” said she believes its popularity is due to the fact that it’s “a fun way to exercise and you don’t even realize you’re working out.”

She also believes the classes are successful because the instructors, who work for Millennium Fitness, provide three difficulty level options to participants.

“All the instructors are so well qualified that they can teach to any level. Generally, when you’re teaching, you design your class at three different levels you can teach to – a more-advanced level, moderate level and a less-advanced level,” Smith explained.

“The advanced people are getting the best workout they can possibly get and the less-advanced people don’t feel like they’re falling behind.”

Burns also noted that the instructors are motivating and encouraging.

Instructors are required to have an aerobics certification or be certified in their specific discipline.

Millennium Fitness also requires instructors to have American Red Cross CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and First Aid certifications.

Not only are instructors certified across the board, they’re also current on class trends. Smith and Anja Payne, lead fitness and aerobics instructor who works for Millennium Fitness, also spend time scouring over journal articles and studying trends at other locations.

That’s what helped spark interest in Aqua Zumba, which made its initial splash Feb. 3.

“We saw (Aqua Zumba) was popular in other areas and not really in our area, so we asked Millennium Fitness to seek out an instructor,” Smith said.

The instructor they found, Holly Rubacha, is the only Aqua Zumba-certified instructor north of Syracuse.

Rubacha, who became certified nine months ago, instructs on land while students mimic her movements in the pool. She encourages everyone to try the class because “it doesn’t compare to regular Zumba.” The water resistance adds to caloric burn and is good for those with injuries.

In addition to the Aqua Zumba, the Monti staff has added two more classes, which make their debut this month: Aqua-Fit, a low-impact, head-to-toe workout scheduled to begin Feb. 17; and High-Low, a dynamic mixture of high- and low-impact moves that burn calories and tone muscles, held Wednesdays from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m.

Other programs offered are Yoga, Spin, Belly Dancing, and a variety of cardio and aqua classes.

Smith said another class they would like to add is Bosu, which is a functional, fitness-oriented workout performed on a dome balance ball.

Classes are held on a first-come, first-served basis. And even though they can accommodate up to 120 people, some evening classes have been known to fill up quickly.

Smith encourages attendees to show up early to class and come equipped with water.

She added that classes do not discriminate against gender, noting, “the Zumba classes are starting to have a lot more gentlemen.”

Burns said she feels it’s important to attend the classes not only for her body’s health, but also for her mental health.

“With the snow, it is hard to get out, but having classes gives you an opportunity to exercise and have fun with friends. It is also nice to have it organized already,” she explained.

Starting next month, Monti PFC will offer sessions with a personal trainer, on evenings and weekends, for a fee. To arrange a meeting with the trainer, call Monti’s front desk at 772-4806.

For a complete calendar list of aerobics and fitness classes offered at Monti Physical Fitness Center, visit Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation’s Sports, Fitness and Aquatics web site,, or pick up a calendar at the facility.

The Mountaineer



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