KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Physical training is a positive method used to strengthen resiliency for those deployed to environments such as Afghanistan. One Army captain with Task Force Falcon, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, copes with stresses related to deployments by creating a positive outlet for others.
Army Capt. Rachel Penny helps others stay healthy, as well as resilient, by instructing a ZUMBA® class twice a week on Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan for those who want additional PT in the evenings.
Penny says she was licensed to teach ZUMBA® in 2011 following her previous deployment with Task Force Falcon, but first tried the fitness method in 2009. Since then she has been involved in several events in the Savannah, Ga., area and says ZUMBA® specifically helps her now because it is a great way to relieve stress.
“Physical training helps with resiliency during deployments because it gives me an enjoyable, productive, and positive way to eliminate everyday stressors and remain focused on the mission at hand,” said Penny.
Army Staff Sgt. Barethea Hicks has attended the class since Penny started instructing here, and has seen the class grow from 6 to 80 participants.
“I even asked if we can find a bigger place. I suggested, the flight line,” said Hicks jokingly. She says the class is a great experience for everyone to work out and enjoy what you are doing.
Army Spc. Mykael Quinones assigned to Task Force Lighthorse, 3rd CAB, recommends the class to others who are hesitant about going. He says at the beginning it was easy to adjust to the routines and progress as more and more routines are added—which for him kept things interesting and fun.
“I would definitely recommend ZUMBA® to others because the exercise is phenomenal, the atmosphere is outstanding, and the attitudes are great; there's no reason not to recommend anyone for an experience like this,” said Quinones.
Air Force 1st Lt. Gretchen De Blaey, a staff weather officer assigned to Task Force Falcon has been attending Penny’s class since April 2013. She says for her personally, it was a way to still dance on deployment—she attends dance classes when not deployed.
“It proves to be a fantastic workout as most dance classes are, but it’s more the joyous aspect of the class amongst a rather stressful deployment. Once someone goes, they are hooked, which speaks volumes to Capt. Penny,” said De Blaey.
Penny, through the enjoyment from others, has seen the class flourish under her watch. She has the best view of her results from her place on the stage.
“ZUMBA® allows us to decompress from the work environment and participate in something that is good for us. As the instructor nothing is more fulfilling then looking out into the class and seeing a crowd of people smiling, laughing, sweating, and having fun,” said Penny.