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Marines Enjoy New Facility

The Semper Fit Paige Fieldhouse is definitely a welcome addition to Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base.

SEMPER FIT PAIGE FIELDHOUSE CAMP PENDLETON MARINE CORP BASE

Camp Pendleton, Calif.; 760 725-6394; www.mccscamppendleton.com

Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base, just north of San Diego, Calif., was due for a new fitness facility. The old fitness center, built in 1940, was originally a dining facility. "Needless to say, the building had problems, the least of which was the way it looked," says Patti Onthank, department head of Semper Fit. The new Semper Fit Paige Fieldhouse was finished in March 2004. "When Marines came back from overseas and walked into the new Fieldhouse, they were amazed. This is a facility that they deserve, and it is enjoyed every day," Onthank says.

The facility is almost 60,000 square feet, and was designed to have easily supervised program space. "Staff members from the front desk can see the entire weight room, the entrances to the group exercise room, the multi-purpose room, all four racquetball courts and the two gymnasiums," Onthank explains.

The Fieldhouse also houses a Health Promotion Center and separate classrooms. The gym seats 394 people, and is lined for basketball and volleyball. The Competition Gym seats 699 people, has a four-sided scoreboard and NCAA backstops for full-court basketball. Both gyms share the use of a state-of-the-art sound system provided by Blue Water Audio. The facility also includes locker rooms, storage, administration areas and a gear issue area.

What is unique about this fitness center is that it is free to Marines and their families. Says Onthank, "The programs in this facility are entirely free -- no memberships, and no fees for any services or classes. Our program is one of the benefits active duty military enjoy, and it is mission-essential for Marines."

Some of the free services offered include personal training, health-risk appraisals, cholesterol screening, blood pressure screening, body fat testing, health classes and group exercise classes. Also, there are football and soccer fields next to the facility.

"Something extra fun and unique," says Onthank, "are Special PTs, which happen when a Marine unit comes in for a group exercise class. There could be up to 300 Marines and sailors doing kickboxing in the gym." Or, she continues, "we'll have a group of instructors and break the group down into smaller sections and set up different stations and run drills with them. It offers the unit a different workout and develops unit cohesion."

This new facility is staffed by 16 active duty Marines and sailors who work the front desk and provide general customer service. A small civilian full-time staff is in charge of the management positions. As for marketing, it "isn't really necessary," explains Onthank. "This huge building is located next to the Base Exchange, and draws a fair amount of attention. Word-of-mouth takes care of the rest. We have an electronic marquis that advertises events."

The Semper Fit Paige Fieldhouse is definitely a welcome addition to Camp Pendleton. With so many Marines currently involved in overseas operations, a brand-new fitness facility at their home base is one way they can prepare themselves physically for the challenges ahead.

Facility Stats

* Date fitness facility opened: March 2004
* Fitness facility size: 60,000 square feet
* Number of members: Camp Pendleton is the biggest (in population) base in the USMC; patron base is approximately 325,000 people, which include active duty, family members, retirees, civilian employees and DoD civilians; facility averages 25,000 to 30,000 people a month
* Strength equipment: Icarian, Hammer Strength, Flex, BodyMaster, Cybex, Life Fitness, Strive
* Cardio equipment: StairMaster, Woodway, Life Fitness, Precor
* Group exercise classes: Cardio kickboxing, group cycling, Bosu, Boot Camp, Power Pilates, step, PowerFlex, yoga, abs, Turbo Kick, Latin Blast
* Management/fitness assessment software: MicroFit
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