By Mr. Richard L Rzepka (USAG Okinawa)March 1, 2016
TORII STATION, Okinawa -- The gym on Torii Station has long been a second home for many gym rats on Okinawa, but for the past several weeks a pack of wolves and a congregation of dragons descended on the world-class facility.
Players from the Nippon Professional Baseball league's Chunichi Dragons and the Sunwolves of the international Super Rugby competition pulled, pressed and powerlifted during their annual spring training events in Yomitan Village.
Through a request made by the Yomitan Mayor's office and community outreach efforts by U.S. Army Garrison -- Okinawa, the professional athletes found themselves lifting alongside U.S. Army personnel in the 30,000-square-foot gym.
"I am thrilled we are able to support the Sunwolves and Dragons training camps at Torii Gym," said Joe Kumzak, Torii Station Athletic Director. "I think it's pretty cool that our service members have the opportunity to train side-by-side with professional athletes, and see their strength-training techniques firsthand," he said.
The Dragons, who remain a consistently formidable baseball team, have been holding their spring training camp in Yomitan Village for nearly 20 years. For the players, working out with American Soldiers was a unique experience.
"Torii Gym is well-equipped and the training room has a large space to use machines comfortably and those machines are better than that of our own training room," said Nami Kamiya, who works in the Dragon's administration and scouting division. "I was glad to have the offer to provide us to the facility for training," said Kamiya.
As Soldiers continue to be recognized as tactical athletes, the need for top-notch equipment and facilities becomes critical to their athletic development. Army programs like the Performance Triad and the U.S. Army Special Operation Command's THOR3 program, or Tactical Human Optimization, Rapid Rehabilitation and Reconditioning, place an emphasis on helping Soldiers and their Families become more healthy and resilient through proper exercise and diet.
Kumzak said that the Sunwolves rugby team used Torii Gym's outdoor workout area extensively for their high-intensity functional training.
"Our outdoor workout area is popular for people who enjoy functional training," said Kumzak. "Many of our customers enjoy the outdoor atmosphere and ocean view while exercising … they find it more invigorating to exercise outdoors than in the traditional weight room setting," he said.
Torii Gym facilities include: weight room, cardio room, Family fitness room, sauna, steam room, hot tub, group exercise room, gymnasium and an outdoor workout area. They also offer personal training, boot camps, Jiu Jitsu and massage.
For the athletes, training at Torii Gym was an experience they hope to repeat in years to come.
"According to players visited Torii Gym, they enjoyed training using machines and received stimulation from others around them," said Kamiya. "They appreciate that Japanese staff treated them very kindly at the reception when they visited … We hope to take this opportunity to keep continuous interaction between Torii Station and our team," she said.