Joint Base Balad, Iraq, has many gyms. There are three large facilities with about 7,000 or 8,000 square feet each (the H-6 gym inside the Air Force gated community, East Side Gym, and West Side Gym). In addition to these large gyms, there are several smaller gyms here and there. For example, there is a small gym inside of a tent at both the Fire Department and ESC (Sustainment Command) headquarters. There are likely a dozen other little gyms all over the place.
When you work out, you can even watch one of the eight plasma TV’s that they have set up. The scene looks like this (this was back in Winter, when they had Xmas snowflakes hung up):
I am lucky enough to live in the H-6 gated community (it’s about 65% Air Force, 35% Army). My morning routine consists of a stop at the gym to exercise pretty much every single day. It’s a nice gym. Here is what it looked like back in February while some contractors were building a rocket/mortar shield over it. Note the basketball court out front:
Here’s what it looks like now that construction is finished:
They have a large variety of things to do. The exercise machines consist of treadmills, stair-steppers, rowing machines, and my favorite the elliptical. In the mornings, it can become quite crowded, and around 7:30AM, it may be hard to find a machine to use! Some people spend so much time here that they become known as ‘gym rats.’ They have a lot of weights, and exercise equipment of virtually anything you can think of. Here is a view of the weight room:
There is one weird thing. In a corridor linking two gym buildings, they have put up blue paper and fish on the wall, so it seems like you are under the sea. I walk through this every day, and think it’s a nice touch:
The East Side gym has a racquetball court and even a climbing wall! I can’t list everything that they have going on, but a partial description of what they have includes a yoga class twice a week, boxing classes, a “P90X” exercise class that meets quite often, abdomen exercise classes, and several others. Here is the bulletin board in the gym listing some of the stuff that is going on:
I recently took a PT (physical fitness) Test and scored 272 out of 300, which is a career high for me. So if you want to get fit, Iraq can be a great place to work out!
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