Sergeant Tony's Blog

EXERCISE CULT — Sgt. Tony Ludlow’s Newsletter for August 4, 2010

Wednesday, Aug. 4th 2010 12:25 PM

Monday, August 2, 1999 – USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP began.

What started as a little exercise gig for me to do before going on to my day job of teaching high school history and coaching took on a life of it’s own.

During one of my two week summer studies at the University of Notre Dame during the summer of 1999, I got the idea for what evolved into USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP.

Several factors played a role in the process of establishing the program. One of the most important was my friend Mark’s insistence that people would want to be abused by me and would pay for the privilege! Really, Mark?

So I sat down in my dorm room at Notre Dame and sketched out the idea and started kicking around possible names for the program. By the time I got back to Memphis I had a plan.

I continued to teach school and coach and do Boot Camp for the next three years. But three years after launching, the program had grown and I was faced with a dilemma. Do I take a break from teaching and give this a shot full time, or just keep on doing what I’m doing?

I decided to take a break from teaching and see what would happen. It was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made. I’d never been self-employed. It truly was a leap of faith.

Monday we celebrated our 11th year and literally thousands have been on my Quarterdeck over the past eleven years! I’m one of the luckiest guys in the world because, more than likely, you’re reading this because you’ve been one of those! And to you I say thank you!

If you’re still on The Quarterdeck and doing Boot Camp with me, I can’t begin to thank you enough. It’s because of you that I have my dream job! Because of you I’ve been able to provide for my family. Because of you I’ve been able to send my kids to college. It’s because of you that I am one of the luckiest guys in the world! It’s because of you that I’m so blessed and so privileged to do something that I dearly love. I am grateful for you every single day!

Thank you all so very very much.

I never set out to establish an exercise class or a fitness program. I set out to establish a community. I wanted it to be something like my life in the Marine Corps. I wanted the physical challenge of the program to have a team feel and for there to be a sense of camaraderie and belonging.

I’ve been written up in every major print medium in Memphis and been featured on all of the local television stations. I was on the TLC television show, “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids.” And a piece about USMC Fitness Boot Camp was part of a FOX Network show a few years ago. And I’ve even been featured in the Wall Street Journal.

Years ago one of you said, “Tony, you’re like a minister and the Quarterdeck is your church!” And to some extent that’s kind of how I’ve approached it. I’ve tried to plug into your lives in ways that were beyond an exercise class.

To me, you’re like family.

As a result, I’ve attended the school plays of boot camper’s children. I’ve gone to your children’s football games, tennis matches, lacrosse matches, basketball games, soccer games, t-ball games, car washes, cross country meets, concerts, and talent shows. And I’ve enjoyed myself more than I can tell you!

I’ve attended your birthday parties, your golf tournaments, tennis tournaments, art shows, craft fairs, charity events, and auctions. And I’ve contributed hundreds of boot camp gift certificates to your causes. I’ve bought stuff at your charity yard sales and tons of fundraiser candy, cookie dough, and goodies. And I’ve probably bought more Girl Scout Cookies than I care to admit!

I’ve helped a dozen of you find jobs and helped a bunch of you find a plumber, electrician, physician, dentist, eye doctor, roofer, painter, and on and on that list goes! And I’ve diagnosed hundreds of injuries and ailments. Some of which I helped cause! hahaha

I’ve been honored to attend the weddings of boot camper’s children and the weddings of a few of you boot campers who’ve gotten married. I even married a boot camper myself!

I’ve visited you in the hospital when babies were born and when you or your family members have gotten sick. I’ve sat in the ICU waiting room with you hoping for good news.

I’ve also attended the funerals of your parents and relatives. And it’s been my sad honor to attend the funerals of two of the finest boot campers and friends that I’ve ever had, Jim Steiner and Henry’s brother Ken Kenworthy.

It’s been my great joy to laugh with you when you were laughing during some of your happiest moments. And it’s been my solemn duty to be with you when your life was turned upside down by tragedy and sadness.

I don’t just love exercise and fitness. I love people. You matter to me more than I can explain. I learn your names and try not to forget them because you’re important to me. Your life beyond the Quarterdeck matters to me. That’s why I ask you questions.

And you tell me things. You open up your life to me and let me in. For some, I’m the closest thing to a priest or minister you have and you confide in me in ways that are very similar to the relationship people have with their minister. I’ve been asked why people open up to me and tell me things and the only answer I can think of is that it’s because people know that I care about them and that I can be trusted.

The Quarterdeck is made up of all kinds of interesting and wonderful people. You are a rainbow of many awesome colors. Most of the time people join the program hoping that I’ll be able to help them change their lives. But when someone new joins I always ask myself, “I wonder how this person is going to change MY life?” And everyone of you have changed it. If you’ve ever been a part of the program, you’ve changed my life in ways you probably never imagined.

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP is more than an exercise class. It’s been called an “early morning exercise cult” (hahaha). But I’d like to think of it as something much more vibrant and living. It’s a community.

It’s been eleven awesome years and I am eternally grateful to you all! Thank you so very much for being a part of my life and for allowing me to be a part of yours!



The Collierville Battalion of USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP has officially moved to the Cordova/Arlington area!

Sgt. Les Bonnett and the Cordova-Arlington Battalion are training at 0515 (15 min earlier than our East Memphis location) at the Woodland Hills Church of Christ at 10011 Woodland Hills Drive, Cordova, TN 38018

CALL SGT. LES for more information at 901-592-7097



The classes have been postponed. The main group for whom I agreed to do the class for have run into unforeseen scheduling problems. I’ll reschedule and let you know ASAP!

So sorry for any inconvenience.



It’s getting close.

Training for the St. Jude Half Marathon begins on Saturday, September 4. This is perfect for the first time beginner half marathoner or even a half marathon veteran.

Can you do this?

If by August 31st you can run 3 miles without stopping in under 35 min, you’ll be ready to begin training. This assumes that you’re doing an hour of continuous cardio on the weekends. There’s 6 weeks to get ready! Not sure? Let’s talk.

Training is open to all. Cost for the three month training is $75 for members of USMC Fitness Boot Camp and $120 for non-boot campers.



Anytime the heat index is 100 or above the class will go inside. If the conditions warrant it, the evening class may also be found on the courtyard inside the day school area. So if we’re not on the playground we’ll be there.

And speaking of the evening class, Tues/Thurs are at St. Agnes school track for cardio workouts on the track … at your own pace!



If you’re a part of a family (usually husband and wife) that does USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, a new pricing plan goes into effect in August! Ask me about it! You’ll like it!



To mark the occasion all new enlistments next month will only be $90 and a One Year Tour of Duty will only be $475.

Other celebrations and such are planned and you’ll hear more soon!



Have you been away from USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP for a while? Comfortable in Turdeville? Wanna come back? C’mon then!! I won’t bite you! (see above!)

I know how it is. You miss a day or two … and then it’s been a week or two … and then it’s a month or two …

Get back on track. Come back to the Quarterdeck!



Facebook has now reached a major milestone: 500 million users! One out of every 14 people on the planet are on Facebook.

That’s the population of the US, Japan, and Germany combined! Half a BILLION people are on Facebook.

In the world of cyber-marketing, Facebook usage can’t be ignored.

So here’s our experiment.

Make a Facebook status update and get a discount!

For every status update that you make that references:
“USMC Fitness Boot Camp,”
“Sgt. Tony’s Boot Camp,”
“Tony’s Boot Camp,”
or something similar, you can take $2.50 off your reenlistment fee for each update, up to $20 off for any given month!

Your status update has to be a specific reference to USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP or to me specifically by name.

You can use Foursquare linked to your Facebook account to “check in” and you’ll get the same discount!

You can use YELP and write an awesome review!

Use your own wording and personality, just include the specifics.

So log on and get started today!



Take Shape For Life is the BEST weight loss program I know of. If you’d like to lose weight talk to me. This is the program I used to lose the almost 30 pounds I gained after knee surgery. Let me help you!

You can also go to


BOGA tomorrow at CUMC @ 0530. BOGA is one half hard core boot camp fitness and one half power yoga … BO-GA!



The Tuesday and Thursday evening classes meet at St. Agnes’ track. These are cardio (walking/jogging/running) workouts and they begin at 5:45 PM.

St. Agnes is at the corner of Walnut Grove and Mendenhall.

Should the St. Agnes track be occupied or the field being used, making the track unavailable to us, we’ll go to St. Mary’s track, at Walnut Grove and Perkins.



A calendar has been added to the official USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP website.

For you visual learners, you’ll find this an easy way to glance at the week or month and see where the workouts will be, if there’s a venue change.


What would you do if money were not an issue, fear were not a factor, and failure were not an option?

To your optimum health and fitness!



Sergeant Major Tony Ludlow

USMC Fitness BOOT CAMP, Commanding
Mailing address: 4888 Southern Ave., Memphis, TN 38117
Cell Phone: 901-644-0145

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