By Laura J. Weinstock
Ledger Contributing Writer
[Los Feliz Ledger, Vol. 2, No. 10, April 2007]
SILVER LAKE – If you’re an early riser, and you frequent the Silver Lake Reservoir, you’ve probably seen Steve Brown. In his camouflage pants and black Navy boots, he is hard to miss. Every morning at 6 a.m., Brown leads his Basic Training class – a rigorous, six-week, outdoor workout regimen designed to get its participants in the best shape of their lives – and keep them there. People can enroll at any time – provided they are screened by Brown for general fitness.
Capitalizing on the 300 days of sunshine Los Angeles enjoys annually, Brown uses his six years of military training to create this challenging workout. He choreographs each class to be distinct – choosing from sixty exercises – to keep everyone interested, encouraged and guessing. Participants speed up three sets of stairs, walk backwards up and down steep hills and intersperse these activities with exercises using different width bands (which work the arms, shoulders and legs).
The classes appeal to everyone, from 20 to 60 year-olds, from movie executives to police officers.
“I got a suit size smaller… I have more flexibility and much greater self-confidence. I’m calmer, ” said California State Senator Gilbert Cedillo, a regular participant.
Melissa Cobb, who works in entertainment, joined the class because it’s “good to have someone pushing you… It’s inspiring and entertaining… and it helps me keep up with my six-year-old.”
Natalie Placencia, a police officer, took the class to get back in shape after having a baby.
“The first week, I was so sore,” she said. But, after she started she regained her muscle tone and strength. “If I have to chase someone, I have the energy,” she added.
At 59, Suzi North, a parent educator and an asthmatic, is the oldest class member.
“It feels great to be able to keep up with 40 year olds,” she said.
The workouts are peppered with jargon from the military. Double time means run. One of the exercises – where participants link arms and walk the hills in groups of five – comes directly from the Navy philosophy that no one is better than anyone else.
“People in Los Angeles are isolated,” said Brown. “This exercise breaks down boundaries… Gay-straight, black-white, male-female, richer-poorer, we’re all human beings. I treat everyone equally. It’s how I contribute to the community.”