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Exercise Guru Boot Camps District Residents Into Shape

Shantella Y. Sherman | 8/13/2009, 4:17 p.m.

The women coming into G.I. Jane€s Fitness and Boot Camp are as diverse as the District itself €" the full gamut of races, sizes, socio-economic backgrounds, and varying health goals. All 25 clients that make their way through Capitol Hill€s Lincoln Park area have one thing in mind though: intense and specialized workouts to bring about weight loss.

Established in 1993 by former Army major Jane Greene, the Bootcamp is recognized across the nation as a formulaic platform around which weight loss and a move to optimum health are achieved. A mix of cardio, weight training, and solid motivational redress, Greene€s classes have a guaranteed success rate. Greene said that watching Washingtonians struggle to get in shape initially led her to open the bootcamp, and keeps her motivated to teach six classes a day. By early 1994, her techniques had reached New York and the €Maury Povich Show.€

€I am passionately distressed about how we are living in this city. I grew up right off Stanton Road on Frederick Place Southeast, and I know how people who are marginalized eat poorly and gain weight. It is systemic, and my goal is to do something about it,€ Greene said.

But Greene, 63, said fast-paced, stressful lifestyles have also led many of the middle- and executive-classes eating out, and losing the battle for good health.

€Overall, the entire city is in pretty poor shape,€ Greene said.

Greene said following the interest from the €Maury Povich Show,€ local news channels began to profile her techniques as well. The result was more than 750,000 calls from as far away as Michigan and lines outside her front door, located at the Car Barn on East Capitol Street Southeast, due to the recession.

€I have an excellent reputation for getting people in shape and that has kept the clients coming in even though many of my competitors have gone out of business,€ Greene said.

Yolanda Taylor, 38, said that she began going to G.I. Jane in 1998 after her weight reached 250. Although she had always been healthy, Taylor said she felt it was time to address her weight before it began to have health consequences.

€I was out of shape and embarrassed, so going into a Bally€s or commercial gym was out of the question. I saw Jane on Fox News one morning talking about how she had worked with people who were over 300 pounds and had gotten them down by meeting their health and fitness needs where they were,€ Taylor said.

The respect Greene has for her clients also attracted Taylor to the bootcamp and kept her coming back.

€Jane would just keep saying, €Do what you can€ and €I know it hurts at first, but you can handle this€ and within a few weeks my clothes were too big. I felt blessed to have had her training me,€ Taylor said.

When asked what makes her system so attractive to her clients, Greene said she determines what exercises work best for both genders and different body types.

€I work specifically on women whose anatomies €" butts, thighs, and stomachs €" are where they need the most help. I know where to go and what to do with them in order to get that weight off and help them keep it off. I hit target areas and include dietary guidelines that include eating sugar-free, higher proteins, and moderate carbohydrates,€ Greene said.

Greene said that despite being in a smaller space, her commitment has not shifted even slightly. If anything, it has gotten stronger.

€Education is the key. Television and radio are constantly bombarding our young people with commercials to eat quick, and exercise later. We cannot continue to live like this, though we are absolutely continuing to die this way,€ Greene said. €I want to be the Black, female Moses, leading my people out of this mess.€