The military has commenced an invasion of Washington's exercise salons. War has been declared on flabby thighs, puny biceps and weak abdominal muscles. Pot bellies, spare tires and saddle bags are under attack.
Ever since actor Louis Gossett Jr. whipped raw recruits into shape in his Academy Award-winning role as the sergeant in "An Officer and a Gentleman," civilians have been fascinated with "boot camp" exercises such as those done in the legendary first weeks of military training.
Master Gunnery Sgt. Bill Dower, the Marine Corps drill instructor who trained Gossett, even made an album and videocassette of a boot camp exercise routine that can be done at home.
But if you prefer to be badgered into toning up flaccid muscles in the company of others while being insulted about smoking, drinking, overeating and sleeping late, then you are a candidate for the new boot camp exercise programs that are cropping up in the area.
Two of the boot camp regimens have been added to the usual routines of two exercise studios, while a third has been launched by a private entrepreneur. But only one is taught by servicemen on active duty.
Sgt. Allen Boothby, 20, and Cpl. Brett Spotted Elk, 20, both members of the U.S. Marine Corps ceremonial honor guard assigned to the Marine Barracks at Eighth and I streets SE, teach the boot camp classes, now offered three days a week at Ballet-Rhythmics, an exercise and dance studio at 2744 Ordway St. NW.
"If you don't hurt you're not getting your money's worth," said Spotted Elk as he and Boothby recently led a group of four men and a woman in jumping jacks, trunk twisters, push-ups, toe touching and worse.
"No pain, no gain," said Boothby to the panting quintet.
Jacalyn Cox, 33, director of Ballet-Rhythmics, said she introduced the new classes to make the studio appeal to a wider range of people.
"I felt that we had a lot of men in breakdancing, but not very many in ballet rhythmics, which is a vigorous workout, but because we do some dancing it tends to scare men away," Cox said. "And also the flexibility of women as compared to men seems to intimidate the men."
The strategy seems to be working. Steve Hunt, 33, a travel agent, said after the class: "I was really looking for something more than aerobics because I tried that before. I really like this a lot, but my stamina is low -- real low."
The routine is done to popular music and the sessions start with reveille. Classes are $6 each or can be bought in a package at $4.50 each. Saturday classes include jogging.
The Rhythm Studio, at 2122 P St. NW., a dance and exercise studio, also recently added a 50-minute routine called "Boot Camp" to its roster of jazz dancing, tap or ballet.
"People now want a rougher workout, without the frills and fan "Sergeant's program is right for me/since I got my lobotomy. Sound off." -- Glenn Marcus cy stuff," said Wes Shelton, 43, the studio's director and now drill instructor. "Especially men want to feel that they work rather than dance."
The workout is done to popular music and includes a warm-up, floor work, aerobics and cool down, said Shelton, whose workout includes 80 sit-ups and 50 push-ups and a fatiguing number of leg-raising exercises.
"We go to the floor and do sit-ups -- the part nobody likes. That's the part most related to the military," said Shelton.
Another military tie-in is the buddy system, said Shelton. "We have partners hold your feet down while you do the sit-ups and we have one exercise for the waist where somebody sits on your ankles and you have to raise up from the side."
The Rhythm Studio offers a variety of class times and pay schedules. There even is a class at 6:30 a.m. three times a week.
Some classes are coed, while others are for men only so that they can concentrate on developing the upper body, said Shelton.
Another boot camp program, started in September by Grant Stockdale, a 37-year-old aerospace consultant, has been in abeyance since its first graduating class of seven, but Stockdale said he hopes to revive it this month.
Stockdale said that his $195 three-week, physical fitness regimen, called the Sergeant's Program, is held outside at 7 a.m., on the field of the Jelleff's Branch of the Boys Clubs of Greater Washington, just off Wisconsin Avenue NE.
There is "no music, no dancing, no mirrors, no machines, no jacuzzis, no juice bars and no girls," Stockdale said, and when it rains, the class still meets outside.
Stockdale, 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, got the idea after he made the rounds of the health clubs and found he was still fighting the battle of the bulge.
"I decided in utter frustration that the way to get into shape without all the confusion is to hire a sergeant and get back to basics," he said.
Stockdale hired Paul Davis, 39, founder of the Institute of Human Performance, who is not a sergeant but an exercise physiologist who develops fitness programs for the military.
When the two men met last summer, Davis had just returned from jungle warfare training school in Panama.
"I laughed hysterically," said Davis of Stockdale's job offer. "But after reconsidering, I said, 'Why not?' because this is probably the most cost-effective method of getting people into good physical condition."
After working with Davis, Stockdale organized his own class. Jeff Wagner, 33, director of marketing for Home Team Sports and one of Stockdale's students, was dubbed the "bionic man" when he was the only participant to pass the rigorous Marine Corps physical training test given at the program's end.
Elwin Guild, 39, a program analyst for the Department of Agriculture, credited the Sergeant's Program with cutting his three-pack a day cigarette habit in half.
And, like raw recruits, the class during its jogging recited ditties composed by classmate Glenn Marcus, 36, a program officer with the National Endowment for the Humanities:
"Sergeant's program is right for me/since I got my lobotomy. Sound off."