Jim Steiner saved Boot Camp.
I told you last week that I’d share the story.
Jim joined us because his wife had given him a month of Boot Camp as a Christmas present in 1999. And when he showed up, he wasted no time making a difference! He quickly became everyone’s best friend! To me he was an older brother, some 12 years my senior, and a role model.
For over two years we enjoyed Jim’s daily dose of fun, fellowship, and enthusiasm for life. Unless he was out of town on business, he never missed a day on the quarterdeck! He was a faithful Boot Camper and a wonderful friend to me personally.
And he saved Boot Camp from extinction.
During that first winter, in the pouring rain, one dark cold morning at 5:25 AM, he and I sat in our cars, waiting to see which of us would get out first. Instead, Jim rolled down his window and suggested that we go to Perkins instead! Since it was only the two of us that morning, and since I happen to love pancakes and not particularly fond of getting soaked, I thought it sounded like a good idea.
Over breakfast I whined to Jim that maybe USMC Fitness, as it was known then, just wasn’t going to “make it.” This was on the cusp of the dot com explosion. There was no Boot Camp presence on the Internet. There was no MySpace or Facebook. I didn’t send out a weekly newsletter by email, I printed them and handed them out one by one. No one had ever heard of Yahoo or Google. We hadn’t partnered with the U of M yet and my marketing and advertising budget would barely cover the cost of our breakfast that morning.
“Maybe this should be our last month,” I said with a sigh. I loved my career as a high school teacher and athletic director and seemed resigned to admit that my early morning exercise experiment had perhaps run its course. I was reluctantly ready to face the fact that Memphis just wasn’t ready for this kind of fitness program. Maybe it was just time to pull the plug.
“Tony, don’t do that! This is the best program I’ve ever been a part of. Hang in there, just wait! They’ll come out of the woodwork! You’ll see!!” Jim insisted. (It was sort of his “If you build it, they will come,” speech.)
In those days, five people at boot camp was considered a pretty good crowd. That morning I was discouraged and ready to quit. But Jim encouraged me and gave me a new commitment to make Boot Camp work. “If Steiner says it’ll work, then it’ll work,” I thought.
If it wasn’t for Jim, I might have thrown in the towel that morning. I might have quit.
Two and a half years later, while Jim, Carole, their son Rob, daughter Meredith, and I were making plans to run the Marine Corps Marathon together in November of that year, Jim suffered what we all thought was a mild stroke.
In the weeks that followed we discovered that it wasn’t a stroke at all. It was a brain tumor.
Because of medical treatment, Jim had to quit coming to boot camp in June of 2002. I made regular visits to his home to check on him and continued to receive an invitation to the Steiner family Christmas party.
In October of 2003, with the aid of his brother and sister-in-law, Jim came back to Boot Camp at 0530.
In a wheel chair!!!!
He had dumbbells in hand and worked as hard as anyone there that morning! You should have seen him!
Always upbeat. Always an encourager. A huge capacity for joy and fun! I never heard him say a single bad thing about anyone. Not even about me! He laughed that morning in October and clowned as if nothing were wrong with him.
It was the last time Jim would be on the Quarterdeck.
I have often said, “In the Kingdom of the Kind and in the company of gentlemen, Jim Steiner was royalty.” I was privileged to have known him, deeply honored to have been numbered among his friends. And profoundly heartbroken when he was taken from us.
Jim passed away five years ago tomorrow, December 19, 2003.
Our last workout of 2008 will be Christmas Eve morning at 0530. We will “stand down” until Monday, January 5th. The Holiday Challengers will weigh in on January 5th!
In honor of Jim Steiner, you who are Boot Campers may purchase a gift certificate for the first month of USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for only $75. Give one to a friend or family member for them to use anytime in 2009!
THE WEATHER OUTSIDE …
Here are the FIVE BENEFITS OF COLD WEATHER WORKOUTS
1. Strengthens the immune system.
2. Naturally increases the body’s production of saratonin, a natural calming chemical in your body.
3. Increased calorie burn!
4. Runny noses keep the cooties from taking up residence and making you sick.
5. Bragging rights! You get to tell your sissy “indoor” friends how tough YOU are!
Dress for colder temperatures by layering. Pay attention to the wind and note the wind chill.
NOTE THE CHANGE IN USMC FITNESS BOOT CAMP CLASSES
At Christ Methodist
0530 Monday through Friday
0645 Will Stand Down after the December 22nd workout and go on hiatus until the Spring.
5:45 PM: M-Tu-W-Th, (5:30 PM on Friday). M-W-F are weight days, Tu/Thu are cardio days.
At Evergreen Presbyterian
0530 Monday through Friday
Sergeant Les Bonnett and the Collierville Battalion have moved from Faith Lutheran Church to Forest Hill Community Church just north of Collierville on Houston Levy Road. It’s the big white church in the curve on your right just after you cross over Wolf River via the new bridge.
NASHVILLE HALF MARATHON TRAINING!
1/2 Marathon (13.1 miles) Training for the Country Music Half Marathon in Nashville on April 25, 2009 will begin on Saturday, January 24, 2009. More details to follow!
Find me on Facebook and make me your friend! (http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=629618416)
I’ll make you mine! Then join the USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP Group!
While you’re on Facebook, you might see an ad for USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP pop up. Do not click on it! Facebook charges me for every time someone clicks on it.
To your continued good health and fitness!
Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow
USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Memphis, TN 38120