2-43 ADA Soldier offers ‘spin class’ to encourage fitness, weight loss
Sgt. Alexander Burnett
32nd AAMDC Public Affairs
SOUTHWEST ASIA – To an outsider, someone unfamiliar with what goes on behind the white door at the Coalition Compound Cardio Room gym, the noises would seem almost strange. Through the wood and plaster, distinct sounds of yelling, heavy breathing, grunts and groans can be heard. In the center of the room, mounted on a Schwinn Spin Bike, a Soldier demands motivation from his students.
Staff Sgt. Hector Soto, the supply sergeant for D Battery, 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, runs the “Spin and Juice” class every other day in this room. He started as a student, taking the class as a part of his workout routine. He then took it upon himself to lead the class when the original instructor left.
“[I] took the class for two months before the previous instructor left,” Soto said. “I have been instructing for nearly four months now.”
The class follows the rhythm of music Soto provides on his laptop. Each song coordinates with a different set of speeds and exercises on the bike. Before starting every class, his opening statement is the same.
“The goal for today’s class – and for each and every one of you – should be to walk out better than you came in here,” he says to a room of 20 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and civilians.
Like any workout led by military personnel, the class follows a “warm-up, sustain, cool-down” structure. The warm-up consists of steady pedaling on the spin bike, maintaining light resistance and doing light exercises with the bike.
“Enjoy it,” says Soto of the warm-up. “If you aren’t sweating yet, don’t worry – you will be.”
Soto then kicks his students into gear with an attitude change similar to that of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. For the next hour, the students are bombarded with commands to sprint, stand, sit, push up, bike without the seat and charge up an imaginary hill.
“I want each of you to envision in your mind the thing you want most and put it at the top of that hill,” Soto says, almost calmly. “Now, see yourself reaching for it, grab it, hold on to it – now take that hill!”
The spin-class workout has been proven to work, a fact Soto can attest to. He has lost 97 pounds in the last year, 12 of which were shed after he began taking part in the class.
“It was so great going from being the guy who falls out of the [physical training] formation to being someone who motivates others to push themselves,” said Soto.
Several of the students say they come not only for the excellent workout, but also to see Soto instruct.
“This is the best sweat you can get in an hour,” said Seaman James Diefendo, an aviation administration specialist with Navy Patrol Squadron A. “Hector really motivates us and knows what he’s doing.”
Soto says his only wish is to continue exercising and motivating others. He plans to start a class back at his home station of Fort Bliss when he redeploys in a few months.
“Right now I am in the best shape of my life,” Soto says, dripping with sweat after class. “I want to keep doing this because teaching this class is truly an honor.”