Before the sun rises, Jeff Ehrich is giving instruction over the sounds of repetitive splashing, as his students grunt and gasp during an hour of challenging exercises, both in and out of the water.

It’s the weekly session of Legion Fitness’ aqua workout at Ball High School’s pool on the island.

Ehrich and business partner Dave Casale founded Legion Fitness & Development. The men developed the course for civilians to experience and benefit from their years of active duty.

Ehrich, a former U.S. Navy Special Amphibious Reconnaissance Corpsman, served more than 16 years of active and reserve duty. Casale is formerly a nationally ranked college track and field athlete and U.S. Navy Seal. 

Legion Fitness works to eliminates gym-related anxiety and the intimidation of boot camp drill sergeants, while offering a customized fitness regimen for participants. 

“Our program was designed to emulate the same types of workouts we did in our units while on active duty,” Ehrich said. “In Special Operations, it’s very important to have a diverse workout because you never know from one day to the next whether you will be swimming, running or carrying a heavy pack.”

The fast-paced workout leaves minimal time for breaks, which expire after a few sips of water and oxygen. The course offers a complete body workout, providing underwater resistance, which burns fat and tones muscle.

“I’m never bored,” said Maria Dunn, an island resident who uses the course to train for marathons. “It’s something different every day.”

Each lane represents a different workout. Casale instructs beginner swimmers in the far left lane. The next lane is for solo swimmers primarily interested in strengthening their aquatic skills. And the final three lanes are for a series of exercises in and out of the pool under the direction of Ehrich.

On a recent morning, Kellye Graham, a Legion Fitness rookie, remained in the instruction lane with Casale, who provided the basics of aquatic fundamentals. 

Meanwhile, Christine Hopkins, an avid marathon runner with the desire to shake up her fitness routine, worked with Ehrich, rotating several 100-meter laps in the water with repetitions of intensifying abdominal and body-sculpting sequences.

“It’s a very small group, so we all receive individual attention,” Hopkins said. “I’m not a strong swimmer, but I’m learning. I wanted something different, something new, and this workout incorporated something for everyone.”

In addition to a weekly 6 a.m. Wednesday aqua workout, Legion Fitness workouts also commence at Hotel Galvez on Mondays and Harbour House Hotel on Fridays. For information, visit www.legionfd.com.

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