National Military Medical Center Opens New Fitness Center

Story Number: NNS110923-21Release Date: 9/23/2011 5:50:00 PM
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By Bernard S. Little, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, at Bethesda, (WRNMMC) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the command's new fitness center, Sept. 22.

The 45,000-square foot facility offers a 50-meter indoor pool, an indoor running track, and NBA/NCAA regulation-sized basketball court. Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) staff held a Fit Challenge and "Fun Palooza" in the state-of-the-art gymnasium to celebrate the opening.

Events included basketball scrimmages for wounded warriors, fitness demonstrations and contests, a blood drive, food, prizes and giveaways.

A basketball scrimmage was held between AMP1 and the hospital staff, said Wendy Tompkins, manager of the fitness center. AMP1 is the first organized stand-up amputee basketball team in the country, she said. WNBA Washington Mystics' forward/center Crystal Langhorne, from the University of Maryland, was the honorary coach for the hospital staff team.

The USO, the Washington Redskins cheerleaders and staff from Information, Tickets & Technology (ITT) were also in attendance for the Fun Palooza.

The Fit Challenge began with TRX and Kangoo, Tompkins said. TRX is a form of suspension fitness training which offers alternative exercises and is beneficial for wounded warriors. Kangoo offers a fun fitness workout using spring boots and is ideal for people with bad knees or who have had back injuries because its low impact, she said.

5-K runs also took place, along with a half-mile swim challenge, an eight-mile spin bike ride, and a wheelchair basketball scrimmage with Paralympic players.

"We're very proud of the variety of things we offer," Tompkins said.

The fitness center offers personal training services and fitness classes, including BodyPump, BodyFlow, BodyCombat, spinning, yoga, boot camp, water aerobics and more, she said. In addition, the gym has racquetball courts, cardio and weight equipment, spinning and group work-out studios.

"We are also getting ready to start a class to work with our Department of Defense dependent children focusing on teen obesity," she added. "We're trying to entertain everyone."

Intramural sports, including basketball, softball, volleyball, kickball, indoor soccer and indoor wheelchair flag football, will also be offered by the fitness center, Tompkins said. Anyone who has a CAC and works on base, except contractors, can use the facility, she added. Full-time NIH employees can also use the fitness center.

In addition to the variety of programs offered by the fitness center, Tompkins is most proud of her staff of 19 fitness and recreational specialists and personal trainers.

"They all get along and have come together as a team," she said.

This is important in the center which has seen its patronage increase from about 350 people per day at its previous locations (in Building 147) to about 1,000 per day since it moved into Building 17, she added.

Tompkins said that Bob Killion, the Quality of Life director at WRNMMC, has also been instrumental in helping with its growth.

"He's a big part of what we've accomplished here. We're glad to be here and able to offer the services that we have," Tompkins continued.

She added that people have waited patiently for the new center to open and there will be some growing pains in an effort to improve services, but people's patience will be worth the wait.

"I'm proud of what we've done and how things are run," she said.

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