Functional Fitness space opens at Gaffney

Sylvia Garcia, fitness coordinator at Gaffney Fitness Center, demonstrates how to use the 20-foot TRX suspension system in the new Functional Fitness area. (Photo by Maddie Ecker)

Getting gains from your daily workout will now be easier with the opening of the new Functional Fitness area at Gaffney Fitness Center.

Two rooms — formerly racquetball courts — are equipped with four squat racks, four deadlift platforms, new bumper plates, weight bars and a 20-foot TRX, or Total Body Resistance Exercise, suspension system.

Gaffney’s first TRX class took place Saturday to officially open the functional fitness rooms.

“Functional fitness gives you the ability to exercise movements you use every day,” said Sylvia Garcia, the fitness coordinator at Gaffney. “For instance, when you go from sitting to standing, that’s a squat.”

Garcia, a former corporal in the Marine Corps and a certified trainer, has been the fitness coordinator at Gaffney since March 2015. During that time, Garcia has been instrumental in developing the group fitness program.

“I’m actively involved in the community,” she said. “I do unit outreach and help change up physical fitness routines. I want to make sure the gym is accessible and user-friendly.”

Over the summer, Garcia helped reorganize the equipment at Gaffney to make more space for weight lifting and functional fitness exercise.

Even with the new open space, Garcia said gym members tend to swarm the area.

“The open space is always crowded,” she said. “We wanted to give people their own area to work out. We want to support that.”

The main gym has two squat racks and two deadlifting platforms. With the functional fitness area, members will have free range of six squat racks, six deadlifting platforms and more free space for circuit training.

Members can freely use both functional fitness rooms, unless a TRX class is in session.

For those worried about getting their weekly racquet ball game in, there are two courts at Murphy Field House, Garcia said.

Old-School Fitness

Fitness trends have the ability to create demand for the type of equipment people want at their gyms.

“An enduring [fitness] trend has been CrossFit,” Garcia said. “It brought people back to metal, with a focus on Olympic lifting. Functional fitness is on the heels of that.

“It’s all body-weight exercises, box jumps, squats and deadlifts. It’s old school.”

Functional fitness exercises also have been incorporated into military physical fitness regimens, according to Garcia.

“It’s a better way to measure readiness,” she said. “Functional fitness supports [that goal].”

Gaffney’s first Functional Fitness room includes a full set of rubber bumper plates for deadlifting and bars made specifically for weightlifting.

In the second room is a 20-foot TRX frame complete with straps.

“TRX is a form of suspension-type training and is highly adaptable for all levels,” Garcia said. “From die-hard athletes to beginners and novices, this workout is for everyone.”

TRX training was created by former Navy SEAL commando Randy Hetrick.

“Born in the Navy SEALs, suspension training body-weight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility and core stability simultaneously,” according to trxtraining.com.

The workout can be tailored to an individual by adjusting the height of the suspension straps. Rip Trainer bars can be attached to the suspension system for core strengthening and rotational strength.

“If you have goals to complete a full pullup, you can gradually increase the difficulty of TRX to achieve that goal,” Garcia said. “It’s definitely harder than it looks.”

Jennifer Peabody, the only Gaffney trainer with a TRX Suspension Trainer certificate, will be conducting the TRX group fitness classes.

“I am super excited to have this space for my personal training clients and for my own workout,” she said. “But to think our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen and women will be stronger is really what this new space is all about.”

Peabody said she begins her instruction with the basics, offering encouragement throughout.

“When I teach TRX, I start with the basic info so new people don’t feel overwhelmed,” she said. “I show easier and harder variations to the basic moves. I teach and encourage proper form. I encourage people to rest when they need to.

“If people are afraid to try the TRX, I would encourage them to watch a class or maybe schedule a personal training session with me in order to get comfortable with the modality.”

For Peabody, providing functional fitness equipment for members of Gaffney is a necessity.

“Functional fitness training equipment is something I have been encouraging management to invest in since I arrived at Fort Meade,” she said. “Functional training is the current wave in the fitness industry because it starts with the core to create a stronger body.

“Traditional strength training may create big muscles, but the muscles are not trained in a way to work together to accomplish functional work.”

Group Classes

Group fitness classes are limited to 14 participants. The first class is free.

The cost is $20 for 10 classes and $40 for 20 classes. Drop-ins pay $3. Purchased classes must be used within three months.

“If you can learn enough of the basics in that one class, you can use the system on your own,” Garcia said. “Right now, we only have two classes to gauge the demand, but I think over time we’ll have more classes.”

The two 45-minute classes scheduled for TRX are held Tuesdays from 9:30-10:15 a.m. and Saturdays from 10-10:45 a.m.

Garcia hopes that everyone will take the opportunity to use the new fitness area.

“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “Go and look at [the functional fitness area] and try it out. It’s for everyone.”

Part of Garcia’s job is to help new Gaffney members learn how to use the equipment.

“If someone doesn’t feel comfortable, they can always call me,” she said. “I’m in constant contact with individuals in the community.”

Editor’s Note: To learn more about the Functional Fitness area or Gaffney Fitness Center, call Sylvia Garcia at 301-677-2349/3716 or email her at Sylvia.l.garcia.naf@mail.mil.

Her office hours are Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

See the February group class schedule here.

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