Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

Gladiator hosts boot camp, offers tips

by Monica Mendoza

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — When fitness professional Tanji Johnson was auditioning for a spot on the TV show “American Gladiators,” she wanted to stand out among her peers, some who towered over her petite frame.

The former U.S. Air Force Academy cheerleader, honor guard member and aircraft maintenance officer said she felt she had more of a gladiator spirit than other competitors because she had been an Airman.

“We had two minutes in front of the judges,” she said. “So, I walked in there and I called the room to attention.”

She got the job.

Ms. Johnson, known as “Stealth” on the NBC 2008 season of American Gladiators, helped celebrate Women’s History Month on Peterson, March 24, by teaching a “Gladiator Boot Camp” workout during a fitness fair at the Sports and Fitness Center.

Women’s History month activities in March included a five kilometer run/walk, a panel discussion with senior leadership and a luncheon.

For one hour, Ms. Johnson led a group of Airmen through jumping jacks, front crawl, back crawl, side to side lunges, three sets of shuttle runs and a series of squats.

“This is one of the best benefits of being a part of the Air Force, to be able to participate in Fit to Fight activities,” said Col. Joan Sandene, 21st Space Wing senior individual mobilization augmentee and host of the event.

This year, the Air Force launched a new fitness program requiring Airmen to take  physical fitness test twice a year using more rigorous standards. The goal of the program is to motivate Airmen to maintain health and fitness year-round, not just prior to a physical fitness test. The new fitness program emphasizes aerobic conditioning, strength/flexibility training and healthy eating.

Ms. Johnson, who has been featured in Oxygen, Flex and Muscle and Fitness magazines, separated from the Air Force in 2001, but she said she found her desire for fitness while at the Air Force Academy.

Today, she is a contender to be the next Fitness Olympia Champion and holds five International Federation of Body Builders titles.

When working out, Airmen should ask themselves what they are they doing, why are they doing it, what muscle are they working and what results are they looking to achieve, Ms. Johnson said.

“Be very intentional about your athletic goal,” she said.

Ms. Johnson offers these tips:

n Change-up a workout. If jumping jacks are boring, add weights. If pushups are boring, add a clap in the middle. Try sprinting in a series of shuttle runs – choose points on the basketball court and sprint to the first point touch the ground and turn, sprint back, then out to the second line and back, etc.

n Focus on muscular endurance. In weight training, do weight specific exercises that target triceps and the shoulders, including the chest press, shoulder press and even bench dips. If Airmen get stronger in those muscles, pushups will be easier.

n Change up your nutritional plan. If you lose a little body fat, it will help you run faster and do more pushups. Try breaking up your total daily calorie intake into five or six mini-meals instead of two or three large meals.

“Anybody can pass the test,” Ms. Johnson said. “But, if you don’t plan for it, you won’t be successful. You need to make it a lifestyle.”

For information on how to create a personalized fitness and nutritional plan, visit the Peterson Health and Wellness Center, Building 560, or call 556-4292.

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