SAN ANTONIO – Joint Base San Antonio, Camp Bullis, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland and Randolph Air Force bases -- these military bases give San Antonio its nickname ,"Military City USA." Having a nickname like that is one reason why honoring active duty troops and veterans is a priority for the city.
"We definitely want to highlight what the military personnel can do, not just in the military, but also for our community," said Travis Davey, assistant manager with San Antonio Parks and Recreation.
In 2014, the city created its Troops for Fitness classes. They are held several days a week at different locations, including Lou Kardon Park on the northeast side.
Not only do the Troops for Fitness classes have a military-style background, they're also led by veterans. Since they first launched, they've had a great response from the community.
"A lot of community members look for that special designation within our schedules and go to a troop class 'cause they want to support veterans and active duty military," Davey said. "The instructors are extremely professional and extremely motivated, and they want to give back, and that shows in their classes."
Michael Jones has been a Troops for Fitness instructor since the start of the program. He has seen his classes grow from two or three people per class to as many as 40 people at a time.
"Everyone needs to be active, and this program is an initiative to help people without going and paying a gym membership. You get free fitness and quality. That's what you want to look for, is our quality," Jones said.
"Myself being a disabled veteran, I can't do everything, so our instructor, Michael, he does a lot of modifications for me so I'm able to perform up to my needs," Tina Sanders said. She's been taking the Troops for Fitness classes for more than a year.
Each week, Jones and other veteran instructors come up with unique workouts. They teach a mix of classes, including Zumba, boot camp and circuit training that can be done alone or with a partner.
"The camaraderie of the ladies and gentlemen that come out here every week. I have made strong bond with these ladies," Sanders said.
"I think it's really special because as a veteran, I'm used to training diverse groups, and that's what our classes are. We have people from all walks of life, all parts of the city, all coming together for a common goal," said Jones.
The Troops for Fitness classes are held at Woodlawn Lake Park, McAllister Park, O.P. Schnabel Park, Bonnie Conner Park, Lou Kardon Park and Cuellar Park, to name a few. If you are interested in taking a free fitness class, all you have to do is register.