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Construction continues on a cavernous new fitness center at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The center, shown here in a January 2004 photo, is set to open in July and will be twice the size of Kunsan's existing gym, a one-story structure built in 1963.
Construction continues on a cavernous new fitness center at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The center, shown here in a January 2004 photo, is set to open in July and will be twice the size of Kunsan's existing gym, a one-story structure built in 1963. (Courtesy of USAF)
Construction continues on a cavernous new fitness center at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The center, shown here in a January 2004 photo, is set to open in July and will be twice the size of Kunsan's existing gym, a one-story structure built in 1963.
Construction continues on a cavernous new fitness center at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. The center, shown here in a January 2004 photo, is set to open in July and will be twice the size of Kunsan's existing gym, a one-story structure built in 1963. (Courtesy of USAF)
Aerial view of a new fitness center under construction at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, home of 8th Fighter Wing. This shot was taken in October 2003.
Aerial view of a new fitness center under construction at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, home of 8th Fighter Wing. This shot was taken in October 2003. (Courtesy of USAF)
View of the cavernous interior of what will become the new fitness center at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. This center will be twice the size of Kunsan's existing base gym, and is set to open in July. The base is home to the 8th Fighter Wing.
View of the cavernous interior of what will become the new fitness center at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea. This center will be twice the size of Kunsan's existing base gym, and is set to open in July. The base is home to the 8th Fighter Wing. (Courtesy of USAF)

Airmen at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea soon will have a brand new fitness center twice the size of the aging gym now serving their remote base, home to the 8th Fighter Wing.

The cavernous two-story gym, to open in July, is to replace the existing one-story gym built in 1963.

Among features of the new $11.7 million fitness center are an NBA regulation-size basketball court, four racquetball courts, a second-story 300-meter running track, two large exercise rooms for group athletics, a weight room, cardiovascular fitness room, a two-story high climbing wall, men’s and women’s locker rooms and a juice bar.

It’ll also more than double the existing gym’s amount of cardiovascular fitness equipment. “We’ll go from roughly 30 pieces of cardio equipment to roughly 70 pieces,” said Kunsan’s fitness center director, 1st Lt. Wayne Stiles, 8th Services Squadron.

In addition, some exercise machines will be wired to FitLinx, a computerized system that allows airmen to track their personal fitness performance statistics. The 8th Fighter Wing leadership has made the system a central part of its fitness efforts, said Capt. Krista Carlos, the wing’s public affairs chief.

The new larger gym also will provide more space to hold required unit physical training sessions indoors, as often happens in rough weather, said Maj. David Bruce, 8th Fighter Wing Engineering Flight commander.

Most units, Stiles said, do their unit PT on the existing gym’s main floor. “But during the winter months you couldn’t go outside and run because it was too miserable.”

About 150 airmen can fit on the existing gym’s 30,400- square-foot main floor for group PT, officials said, 250 if all the gym’s rooms are used.

But the new center’s main gym floor alone, at 66,000 square feet, can accommodate 350, they said.

The existing gym has one basketball court; that of the new gym can be set up as a single NBA regulation-size space or as two smaller courts. Bruce said. “The effective result is that we’ll double the number of our indoor basketball courts.”

A South Korean firm, Central Construction Company Ltd., began work on the new center in the fall of 2002 under contract with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“With the increased focus on fitness in the Air Force,” said Carlos, “this is going to be important to us.” The existing gym is “very small, very cramped. … Folks who want to work out have a very difficult time because there are just so many people in the gym at all hours of the day.”

“This new fitness center ... is going to be double the space, double the opportunity to work out anytime you want, without running into anybody.”

And it’ll boost morale, Stiles predicted.

“At Osan, you can go out the gate and find a lot to do,” he said, referring to a larger U.S. base just an hour south of Seoul, South Korea’s capital. Kunsan, he said, “is not the same. We’re remote here, so we need to provide stuff for the troops” — such as the fitness center.

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