“Let’s go walking,” I said to my husband early in the wee morning…around 5 a.m. He stared at me with a confused look, laid his head back down, and pulled his covers over his head.
“Let’s go walking,” I said again, this time with a more commanding tone in my voice.
“Kristen, go back to sleep. You’re having a bad dream,” he mumbled.
My husband was sure I must have been dreaming since in our 14 years (this happened last year) of togetherness, I had never invited (or in the case of that morning… demanded him) to go walking or do any form of activity that remotely resembles exercising.
I had been residing in GTMO for only three months, and I thought it time for me to conform to GTMO life. Everyone here exercises. Well, at least everyone I know and socializes with in GTMO regularly exercises. When our family lived stateside, we exercised. It’s not like it was a new thing for us. We exercised! We exercised twice a year! After celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas with huge multicultural meals of southern fried turkey, baked ham, Vietnamese egg rolls, a varied assortment of Mexican casseroles, typical mouth watering side dishes, French desserts, and whatever else my diverse family members bring to the table, I threw on my sweats and walked on the treadmill. Wasn’t speed walking on the treadmill or mall walking twice a year after consuming big portions of fat and grease enough exercise to keep us healthy? Apparently, not.
When my daughter first stepped foot on “GTMOland” almost two years ago, she commented on her observation about our family’s physical fitness.
“Mommy, did you notice that we are probably the fattest family on base?” she inquired.
Her question brought it to my attention that our family doesn’t exercise enough. I looked around and saw all these physically fit women in their mid 30′s to late 40′s and decided that I need to get on the bandwagon. I’m typically not a conformist, but I thought conforming to exercising may not be a bad thing for our family. I watched people walk, jog, run, bike up and down streets, dirt hills, grassy trails and hard concrete sidewalks in the Cuban heat while fighting off the blood sucking thirsty mini vampires called “mosquitoes.”
It didn’t surprise me to see so many people exercising. What surprised me was that I could find someone exercising anytime of the day or night. I have never seen such dedication from so many people when it comes to exercising. It was not uncommon for me to see people running while pushing their newborn or toddlers in strollers. It didn’t occur to me then that perhaps there were so many people exercising throughout the day and night because we live on a military installation.
One thing I can boast about GTMO is that it has all the resources available to residents to lose weight and live a healthy lifestyle. GTMO residents can take advantage of a variety of group exercise classes that are free: yoga, pilates, cardio kickboxing, Zumba, step aerobics, and water aerobics. The base also have two gyms that do not require a fee based membership. The hours are convenient and the facilities are pretty up-to-date. The base is currently expanding and updating the base’s main gym. And since I’ve been here, some of the exercise equipment have also been upgraded.
The main gym has indoor and sand volleyball, basketball courts, a room with boxing equipment, cardio and weight lifting sections, saunas, miniature golf course, skate board park, batting cage, track, and so much more.
Morale Welfare Recreation (MWR) also staffs well trained and highly qualified Jamaican and American fitness instructors who are certified to teach the classes mentioned above. There’s also a fitness instructor who will provide you with a physical fitness assessment free of charge and even provide you with an individualized nutrition and workout plan to help you meet your goals.
The base regularly hosts 5K and 10K runs. Once in awhile, there is a half marathon, and several branches of the military on base host triathlons as fundraisers. Typically, the runs do not require any registration fee. I heard this is a great incentive since veteran runners tell me that most stateside races require a registration fee. Once the base sponsored a race during Cinco de Mayo. The finishers get to have free nachos and a free margarita. I’m not sure how healthy that is, but the free food and margarita got my attention so I signed up. I did finish, but by the time I made it to the alcohol tent, I was too delirious from my fatigue, that I completely forgot about the free food and booze. I asked for water, and instead of drinking it, I poured it over my face.
Since living in GTMO, I am proud to announce to friends and family that I now exercise regularly. Funny thing is that I have not lost one pound! I actually gained. I still wear the same size clothes, but for some reason, people say I look slimmer in my pictures. I promise I’m not photoshopping my pics! I think the main reason why I haven’t lost any weight here is because I love to eat. I have a weakness for food. Darn that jerk chicken from the “Hill!”
So…while everyone else is getting fit in GTMO, I’m still stuck on my stateside eating habits. Perhaps next year, I’ll have more will power to turn my eyes, nose and mouth away from temptation. Until then…happy reading!