CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Comedian fitness instructors with Armed Forces Entertainment visited Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, as part of the Armed with Laughter: Soul-dier Boot Camp Comedy Tour, Sept. 20-24.
Debbie Praver, Lang Parker, Suzy Nece and Chris Valenti teamed together to offer a two-in-one comedy and fitness package at the camp’s Town Hall. They hosted fitness classes during the day and performed comedy shows at night.
Soul-dier Boot Camp is a yoga-inspired, high-intensity, interval cardio class designed to get participants to a high cardiovascular level and then bring them down with a calming, athletic, yoga course.
“We figured the soldiers are under such stress every day, they live in a state of fight or flight and it’s a lot of pressure on all the systems in your body,” said Debbie Praver, comedian and tour organizer. “We know they all enjoy the high-intensity and strength [training], then the relaxation with yoga. So everybody is happy and we make them laugh while we are doing it.”
Each comedian specialized in different forms of fitness that contributed to the program. Praver, a Los Angeles native, has a degree in biomechanics and exercise physiology, and proudly teaches “every form of group fitness on the planet.” Nece is a certified yoga instructor who owns a studio in Manhattan Beach, Calif. Valenti is a certified spinning instructor, musician and comedian. Parker, a farm-grown, Wisconsin native taught the boot camp class.
“We are here to boost morale and make everybody feel better, and we all know that if you can move your body around and get things moving you’ll feel better,” said Praver. “And laugh; there’s no better ab[dominal] workout than a few giggles.”
The comedians kept the audience laughing with jokes about the mistakes parents make when raising children, tough girls attempting to be feminine and the humor in crashed relationships.
“I love being in a room full of people who are laughing,” joked Nece. “I think it’s healing for me and hopefully it’s not too terrible for the audience.” she joked.
Lance Cpl. Thomas Morris, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, said he attended the show for a change of pace
“It was a good laugh,” said Morris. “(Shows) like this really help boost morale.”
Nece says she has always wanted to tour to entertain service members as three of her nephews served in the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps.
“This has given me a crazy perspective of what their lives must have been like,” she said.
All four comedians expressed their gratefulness and support for the service members and their work.
“The troops are out here doing all that they do so that we, our families and our friends can be at home doing what we do and can say what we want to say,” said Praver. “Without the troops doing [their job], we wouldn’t have this kind of life.”