A group of marines joined a senior aerobics class on the Eastern Market plaza this past Wednesday. Participants say the Marines proved not only how neighborly the residents of the Eighth Street Barracks can be, but also how fit the seniors in the class truly are.
Dega Schembri, the Co-owner of Foundation Fitness of Cleveland Park (3525 Connecticut Ave. NW) regularly teaches a 7:30 a.m. class Monday, Wednesday and Friday outside of Eastern Market’s North Hall. Most of the participants are women who formerly took part in a class at the Supreme Court taken regularly by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
This past Wednesday, July 22 as Schembri strolled towards her class she noticed a group of Marines. Schembri asked them if they had just finished their run, and got a ‘Yes Ma’am,” in return.
“Well, then you are warmed up for my class,” she said she told them, and invited them to join the group of seniors waiting to work out.
Schembri said the marines followed her to class. “It was a HOOT,” she said.
The Marines stayed for the entire aerobics class. Their presence led to some funny moments but helped prove the overall fitness of the regular class participants. The Marines seemed to have a particularly good time trying out the grapevine, a side-stepping sequence, with the group, said Schembri.
“Of course, they risked running into each other several times but survived that and then proceeded to show us up on the push up and planks,” said the instructor, “although for a group of 60 to 70 year-olds, we did complete our 30 push-ups!”
Told of the spontaneous foray by the Marines into the aerobics class, Marines spokesperson Gunnery Sgt. John Jackson laughed. “That’s obviously fantastic,” he said. “That’s what we try to be around here, is good neighbors.”
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Barracks at Eighth and I Streets SE is the oldest active post in the Marine Corps, founded by President Thomas Jefferson and Lt. Col. William Ward Burrows, the second commandant of the Marine Corps, in 1801. Each year, the USMC Drum and Bugle Corps lead the Capitol Hill Community July 4th Parade. In 2018, Marines were recognized by Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) as some of the first responders to a fire at the Arthur Capper senior residence, rushing into buildings to carry residents to safety.
Jackson said that the Barracks Row USMC post is not only unique because it is historic but also because it means the Marines are part of a neighborhood in the middle of an urban community. Jackson said it is an important role. “Whether through our weekly parades or doing some workouts with our fellow seniors,” he said, “we will continue to be and support our neighbors.”