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Kicking Back with Shaun (and punching too)

12 June 2024

From MC1 Sean P. Gallagher, NSA Bahrain Public Affairs

Every Sunday, Monday and Wednesday, patrons at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Bahrain Navy Exchange may walk by the gym and hear the sound of people locked in combat. The curious may wander in and hear the sound of music and smell sweat, as people kick and punch their way to victory. When they reach the aerobics room, that’s when they’ll discover that it’s not a brawl, but an intense workout in the form of boxing and kickboxing. At the center of this controlled chaos, is Shaun Gillespie.
Gillespie, a native of South Africa (South African native of British decent), has a deep connection to the military with almost every member of his family having served across the branches. His passion for helping service members led him to Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) Bahrain, where he helps service members and civilians pursue their fitness goals.
“As soon as I signed up, I took it quite seriously,” said Gillespie. “Sailors need to know what's available to them. I am a personal trainer, boxing and kickboxing coach here on NSA Bahrain. I am also one of the only personal sports massage trainers in the area. Mainly, I am a personal trainer and I run the kickboxing and boxing classes that I design from scratch, specifically for NSA Bahrain service members, civilians and their families.”
Gillespie tailors his workouts to Sailors and families stationed on the base, while allowing participants to learn, develop, and train at their own pace. In most cases, workouts take place in pairs with any odd persons pairing up with Gillespie himself. Working in teams of strikers and catchers, everyone has the opportunity to learn the full range of aerobic striking and technical skills kickboxing and boxing provide.
“My goal is to give everyone an experience that differs each time,” said Gillespie. “We change everything up each session, from movements, warm ups, and even music. I don’t ever want it to feel boring for those participating. I want it to be an exciting experience that keeps people coming back while getting them where they want to be physically.”
Gillespie’s favorite part of leading these types of classes is meeting new people and getting them involved with each other with three goals in mind – fitness, endurance and community.
“It’s an incredibly taxing workout, but it isn’t built around shame or being pushed beyond your limits,” said Gillespie. “There is no set strategy towards like, you have to do this many, you have to hit this many reps. Do it as best you can for as long as you can. Don't destroy yourself so that you don’t come back.”
Gillespie also said he is less concerned about skill level and much more about personal progress. His belief is that with a pair of gloves, some pads and a partner, you will be amazed at how quickly you can improve. The challenges of teaching in a region where so many people come through on different schedules is immense and motivational, and he looks forward to each and every opportunity.
“MWR was so supportive in getting this program off the ground by providing the time, space and required equipment,” said Gillespie. “If anything, my biggest problem is that classes are very full, and I anticipate we will need more time, space and equipment to accommodate the demand. That, however, is an extremely fun and exciting problem to have.”
If service members are interested in meeting Gillespie, they can find him teaching boxing classes in the upstairs functional fitness center on Sundays at 4 p.m. and kickboxing classes in the aerobics room at the MWR Fitness Center Monday and Wednesday at 4 p.m. Equipment is provided and attendees are partnered up on arrival.
“With a little grace and a welcoming atmosphere, I hope to show everyone there is a place for them in my classes,” said Gillespie. “There is nothing more important than just showing up and putting the time and effort in. I hope to see you all there.”
NSA Bahrain’s mission is to support U.S. and coalition maritime operations throughout the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations by providing security for ships, aircraft and tenants on board NSA Bahrain and assigned detachments. NSA Bahrain provides efficient and effective shore services to sustain the fleet, enable the fighter and support the family with honor, courage and commitment. 

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