News & Media

"No Spandex. No Crybabies"

A former Marine drill instructor is looking for the few and proud with the self-discipline to get fit.
Memphis Flyer - August 18, 1999

Tony Ludlow is looking for a few motivated bodies.

Have you had a hard time sticking to an exercise program, yet you want to lose weight or build muscle tone? Look no further. A former Marine drill instructor and a fitness trainer for 10 years, Ludlow combines military-style motivational tactics with humor and expertise to create a unique group-centered exercise program that is, nevertheless, tailored to meet individual needs.

"A key element to the success of this program is the development of self-discipline," Ludlow explains. "Hopefully, the group will instill a sense of pride and purpose in you, and you'll feel like showing up for the team. The group situation is calculated to foster camaraderie and a high degree of accountability."

Yeah, that, or you'll have a disappointed ex-Marine to contend with the next morning. He just might make you drop and give him 20 upon arrival. Or he'll just humorously harass you the entire hour.

"Don't get me wrong," Ludlow says. "I'm going to be tough on the group but in a constructive way. I'll be in your face with a lot of humor and sarcasm, but I'm not trying to turn you into G.I. Jane."

In fact, with each new group Ludlow spends the first month putting "recruits" through "boot camp" to be certain that everyone is ready to proceed to the next level -- maintenance training. On the first day they'll go through a mile-long fitness test (run or walk), a body analysis (including weight and body fat), and a discussion of individual physical-fitness goals. If a recruit has a health problem such as obesity, Ludlow will suggest a physical and receive a doctor's clearance before beginning.

"The beauty of this program is that you can go at your own pace, but there's always someone there pushing you to go farther," explains one participant. "Tony isn't going to make you feel like you have to do something at a certain pace, but you are motivated by him and the others in the group to step it up a notch."

And just to be certain that no one pushes too far on a given day, especially in the early going, Ludlow makes occasional "house calls" to check on his group's physical and mental status -- and make them feel accountable for tomorrow's early morning. If one of your expressed goals is to lose weight, he might even ask you to tell him what you had to eat that day, or at least ask you to write it down in your food diary.

"Early morning? Did I hear you say 'early morning'? How early?" you might be asking.

Here's where the self-discipline comes in. The USMC Fitness Group meets at 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at the University of Memphis running track next to the Field House and trains for one hour. Believe it or not, two participants come all the way from Olive Branch, Mississippi, at that ungodly hour. Others who work a night shift still make it on time. That's commitment.

"Okay, what exactly am I doing at 5:30 in the morning?" is another popular question.

As mentioned, the first month of the program is boot camp, designed to prepare everyone for maintenance training. Three days a week are devoted to a combination of cardiovascular training and strength training with dumbbells and martial arts. In addition, Ludlow uses a combination of lunges, push-ups, sit-ups, and other body-resistance techniques to tone and strengthen. Another two days a week focus primarily on cardiovascular workouts with Indian runs or walks (around the track single file with the last person sprinting to the front upon Ludlow's orders) and "fartlek" running or walking. (A fartlek is like the Indian run but you are not in a line when you pick up the pace from point A to point B.) Every day includes stretching and warm-up routine.

A new group goes through boot camp each month. At the end of boot camp, each recruit receives a T-shirt, graduation dogtags, and permission to move on to the next level. Again, self-discipline and commitment are the key elements. As a result, Ludlow has structured his fees to decrease according to your level of commitment. September's rates are as follows:

Boot Camp -- $125

Maintenance & Improvement Program:

3-month enlistment -- $60 per month or $180

6-month enlistment -- $45 per month or $270

1-year tour of duty -- $30 per month or $360

By comparison, an ex-Marine in Washington, D.C., with qualifications similar to Ludlow's is charging $325 for his three-week boot camp alone.

In anti-health-club fashion, Ludlow has adopted a slogan for USMC Fitness: "No music. No dancing. No mirrors. No spandex. No crybabies. No refunds. Just have fun and get fit!"

For more information, call 372-0700.