By Staff Sgt, Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Gen Ste. Marie never intended to be a fitness instructor. It was something she fell in to in 2008. However, after the birth of her daughter and changing locations often at the request of the Air Force, it was difficult to keep up with.
Upon arrival at Schriever, she found her daughter didn’t care for being looked after by others, not to mention the base gym didn’t provide childcare.
Instead of being discouraged, she shot an e-mail out to the few friends she knew in base housing, asking if they wanted to work out together.
That was six months ago.
Now, a group of two to eight residents meets up with Ste. Marie three times a week at the Tierra Vista Community Center for Zumba and kickboxing classes.
“This really all started because I wanted to work out, practice and keep current on instructing,” she said. “It’s just turned into something that’s really great.”
The atmosphere is very casual. Those who bring children with them can stop and check up on them any time they need to. Ste. Marie’s daughter, a toddler, sometimes even dances along with the class.
“That’s one of the benefits of the class being kind of a volunteer gig. It’s really nice and easygoing and flexible,” said Ste. Marie.
That flexibility is one of the things that keep the group coming back for more.
“Moms can bring their kids with them to the class.” said Cathy Finn, who has been coming to the class since it first started. “That’s a huge bonus for moms with little ones who need a break but don’t have a babysitter.”
The class is also set up so that anyone can do the exercises. Ste. Marie offers a high and low impact version of the moves so both beginners and those more advanced can get the most out of the workout.
“When I started taking Zumba as a student, I felt like Frankenstein. I had no movement in my hips. I found there were muscles in my body I didn’t know existed because you have to move a certain way. I just felt so clumsy,” said Ste. Marie. “I tell people who try for the first time ‘don’t worry if you feel clumsy because it will get there. You’ll find your hips. You’ll find that movement.’”
According to Ste. Marie, the group uses each other as motivation. She knows they will be depending on her to teach the class and they know she will be counting on them to be there.
“It’s hard to be by yourself and work out,” she said. “You’ll say ‘I’ll just put on a video and workout at home.’ Then the dishes need to be put away, the laundry needs to be done and suddenly there are all these things that can be done. It’s not as motivating. With more people comes more energy and more fun. I think you work harder when there’s more energy in the room.”
Many of thos e who attend the class are surprised to find out how tough the workouts actually are, said Ste. Marie. The fun factor and social aspect make the exercise seem less like work.
“I find attending these workout sessions keeps my fitness goals in check as well as give me a great opportunity to socialize with other women here in the TVC residential community,” said Finn. “The healthier I am, the better mom I am to my kids. I seem to have better patience if I’ve had a good workout.”
Ste. Marie receives a lot of thanks from those attending her classes but feels she should be thanking them instead.
“We come out here to have fun,” said Ste. Marie. “I think that getting fit is a side effect of the fun we’re having together.”
Free Zumba classes are held in Tierra Vista Community Center Mondays and Wednesdays 9 — 10 a.m. and free kickboxing Fridays 9 — 10 a.m. For more information call 694-0193.