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NEWS | July 1, 2013

Just 'be fit': Gunnery sergeant's motivation for fitness

By Tech. Sgt. April Wickes 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

More than 1,000 hours.

In the last two years, that's how much time one Marine has spent in the gym.

This Marine, Gunnery Sgt. Juan C. Ospina, Joint Task Force Civil Support noncommissioned officer in charge of operations, doesn't dedicate this time to his own workouts, but rather devotes his personal time to help students focus on fitness. He accomplishes this by teaching the Functional Fitness Program "CrossFit" class at Anderson Field House on Fort Eustis, Va.

"Teaching other people is rewarding," Ospina said. "It's great to see the different levels of fitness and help people reach their fitness goals."

Ospina explained that the Functional Fitness Program normally consists of a light warm up for mobility, a gymnastic or weightlifting skill and then a full workout. The workout is made of three main disciplines: cardio, gymnastics and weightlifting. These disciplines are combined to create high-intensity workouts.

The core concept of the class is to perform constantly-varied functional movements done at a high-intensity level, Ospina said. The ultimate goal of the class is to teach people to perform functional movements such as squatting, pushing and pulling.

Ospina said fitness helps him relieve stress, and also provides a social atmosphere that he enjoys.

"I can workout with my wife and children, or anyone I meet," he said. "We can all get together with the common goal of becoming more fit."

In addition to the social aspects, Ospina said fitness health benefits are extremely important to him.

"Being healthy is everyone's responsibility," he said. "If you're fit, you're prepared for anything in life -- just 'be fit.'"

This concept of just "be fit" serves as Ospina's personal motto and motivation to instruct. He hopes his coaching and fitness philosophies have a lasting impact on his students.

"I workout for myself, but by coaching others, I'm able to help them become better athletes and live healthier, longer and more independent lives," he said.

Ospina said that even though the class is a high-intensity "CrossFit" workout, anyone can participate because the workouts are designed to accommodate any fitness level.

"From Olympic athletes to an injured Soldier, everyone wants to be fit," he said. "We have [people] in the class who had strokes or were in major car accidents. They may have to use a [polyvinyl chloride] pipe instead of weights or adjust their range of motion, but they still do the same workout."

Jenee Sauer, a military spouse, has attended the class for 10 months and said she's noticed improvements without having to spend a significant amount of time at the gym.

"I'm seeing results. When I go to lift a bag of grain at the barn, I can lift it easier," she said. "I've learned to use proper lifting techniques and it makes things simple. This class is incredible. I love it -- there are a lot of great people to workout with."

For some people, maintaining a workout regimen can be discouraging if results aren't seen, maintained or continually gained. Ospina said the "CrossFit" class is different and provides an effective alternative form of fitness.

"Most people who practice a routine will hit a plateau. They will stop seeing gains and results," he said. "This program is different because of its constantly varied high-intensity workouts. Because it's varied, you will never see the same workout in a six to 12 month period."

Ospina stressed the first step in reaping these fitness benefits is attending the Functional Fitness Program. He said he loves seeing new faces and watching his students' progress.

"Whether you're a top notch athlete or haven't worked out in years, just come to the class," he said. "We can give you a course introduction, but once you participate you'll be hooked, it actually works!"

Whether it's one hour at the gym or 1,000, Ospina is motivated by his desire to help people just "be fit."

For more information on the Functional Fitness Program, call 878-2328 or visit