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Tae Bo creator helps open fitness center

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Tae Bo creator Billy Blanks stretches out with a gym full of students on opening night of Langley's new fitness center Nov. 7.  Blanks led the class of more than 500 in his unique mix of dance, aerobic and Tae Kwon Do moves.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Samantha Willner)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Tae Bo creator Billy Blanks stretches out with a gym full of students on opening night of Langley's new fitness center Nov. 7. Blanks led the class of more than 500 in his unique mix of dance, aerobic and Tae Kwon Do moves. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Samantha Willner)

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFPN) -- Pounding music, NBA-style introductions and cheers of more than 500 people accompanied the base’s 18-person fitness team as they ran onto the new basketball court Nov. 7 to workout with Billy Blanks, the creator of Tae Bo.

The mix of military and civilians, spouses, children and friends turned out for what 1st Services Squadron officials called an “out-of-the box” approach to a grand opening.

“We wanted something with active participation, not just the traditional ‘cut the ribbon’ ceremony, which was done in the morning,” said Nancy Christian, the chief of marketing for the 1st SVS.

“We also wanted to celebrate fitness as a lifestyle, and Mr. Blanks promotes that kind of fitness,” she said.

Blanks, a seventh-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a seven-time world karate champion, founded Tae Bo after combining dance music and Tae Kwon Do moves for a home workout, according to the official Tae Bo Web site. He saw what it did for himself and his family, and in 1989 opened the Billy Blanks World Training Center in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Since then, he has been traveling the world to spread his message about fitness and health, including visits to deployed troops in places like Bosnia, Kosovo, Germany and Italy.

“We do it because the armed forces serve our country, and I believe it’s an honor and my right to serve them,” Blanks said. “We want to show our appreciation and tell them ‘thank you’ for what they do for us around the world.”

The new fitness center is also home to the health and wellness center, showing the combined emphasis on fitness and wellness, which is what Blanks promotes, Christian said.

“My definition of fitness is health,” Blanks said. “Anybody can look good but be dying on the inside. It’s more about the inside than the outside.”

Most people think of fitness as a physical process, he said. He teaches people wanting to get in shape that it starts in the mind and heart. Then, success comes in other areas of their lives.

“If you say being fit is about being physical -- and we are all physical people -- then why isn’t the world in shape?” he asked. “It’s about mentally and spiritually being in the right place. If you can establish faith in all parts of your life, you’ll see how it enhances everything you do. And then when hard times come, you’ll know how to (get) through it.”

If people start internally, they can get their body to fall in line and then be able to do anything they want to in life, he said.

“First, they have to start talking themselves into getting into shape,” he said. “Then, you find something that you like doing. Find some music, even for five or six minutes, and create a little workout that’s comfortable for you. Soon, you will build up to a successful physical-fitness program. Find a way that makes you tick and combine that into a workout program.”

He said he sees discipline as the main tie between fitness and being in the military.

“The will and the mind (are) always being tested when you’re in the military,” he said. The will and mind get tired first in a workout, so people have to challenge themselves to make it successful. The same goes for being in the service.

“(Fitness) is important for the military, because it teaches you discipline and concentration,” said Shellie Blanks Cimarosti, Blanks’ daughter and a member of Team Tae Bo. “You can’t do your mission if you don’t have a goal and can’t concentrate on it.”

Both said they were impressed with the new facility here.

“It’s awesome,” Blanks said. “It’s got everything people need to get in shape, so there should be no excuses.”

“It’s nice to see that people care and want to take care of the airmen here, because they deserve it,” Cimarosti said.

Blanks and Cimarosti also toured Langley, visiting the dining facility, base exchange and F-15 Eagle static display. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)

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