You’ve probably driven by the fitness center countless times on your way to the Commissary or Exchange. Maybe you’ve seen buff service members walking in and out of the gym, and wondered whether the fitness centers were only for active duty? Think again.
If you haven’t considered the gym membership that came along with your ID card, now is the time to take advantage of this privilege and get ready to sweat.
The size and number of gyms vary across duty stations, but military spouses are offered full access at each location. Fitness centers are typically open long hours during the day and only closed on holidays, giving you plenty of time to get your workout in.
Free gym membership
You might have several excuses to put off regular exercise, but if you are a military spouse, cost is not one of them. Flashing your ID card at the front desk grants you free access to cardio equipment like treadmills, ellipticals, spinning bikes, and rowing machines. Free weights and resistance machines are also included with your dependent status. Basketball and racquetball courts are often available for reservations. Although many facilities also have a sauna available, sitting in one does not count as your workout. Nice try.
Wait, there’s yoga?
If you are tired of wandering aimlessly between exercise machines while plotting your next move from your seventh trip to the drinking fountain, you might want to try a group class. Most fitness centers offer a variety of classes such as yoga, barre, cardio dance, step aerobics, Zumba, and spin. There truly is something for every fitness level. Just remember the first rule of group classes: wait until the instructor isn’t looking to rest and catch your breath.
Depending on where you live, studio fitness classes outside military gates might run anywhere from ten to fifteen dollars for a drop-in session. Sure, there are membership deals at gyms in every city, but how can you beat three dollars per class on a military installation? Punch cards are typically available, bringing the cost per class into the two-dollar range. Dirt cheap is what it is! Check with your local duty station’s fitness center for an up-to-date group fitness schedule.
What about the kids?
We can’t forget about the little ones who always seem to be in tow, right? Childcare is often the biggest obstacle for busy parents who are trying to find time to exercise. Some facilities are family friendly, where parents can work out while supervising their children in a designated play area. Otherwise, hourly childcare usually exists nearby fitness centers on military installations, and is worth looking into. When the gym is free, it makes paying for childcare a little easier.
If you’re as lucky as Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, your facility offers youth classes such as dance and karate on-site, which means you could hop on a treadmill during your child’s class. Now that’s efficiency!
Because you’re worth it
As long as you remember the dress code and leave the belly shirt and hat at home, military spouses can walk confidently into any fitness center on an installation. You belong there. And it’s time to take advantage of this incredible privilege. Still intimidated? Make time for a recon visit so you can grab the group fitness schedule and familiarize yourself with the locker room, cardio and weight rooms.
The benefits of regular sweat sessions are well-known and undisputed. Exercise provides an outlet for stress, releases endorphins that trigger positivity, and helps maintain a healthy weight. All excellent things! It’s usually the getting there that’s the hardest part. But with accessible and affordable gyms at your doorstep, challenge yourself to give military fitness centers a chance.
And who knows? Cardio-kickboxing just might turn out to be your favorite military benefit yet!