Recently completed improvements to Cecil Holman Park are not the only things drawing in residents with many coming out in droves for Camp Gladiator.

Saturday morning approximately 30 residents ranging from the elderly to high school athletes came together as part of a circuit training exercise routine emphasizing teamwork, competition and a community-minded approach to better health.

“The biggest camp I ever had in Brown County was last September, when I had 72 people,” Camp Gladiator Instructor Misti Pope said. “On average, I have about 20 at each one and we run five days a week. I started from scratch here … I have three or four trainers now. We’re in Comanche, May and we just opened up in Eastland.”

Pope said the community-minded approach is what keeps patrons coming each week. Despite having a diverse clientele of all ages and backgrounds, throughout the session they work side-by-side inspiring each other and motivating one another for one last rep before moving to the next routine.

“The biggest thing is to have fun – lots of high fives and telling them ‘Great job,’” Pope said. “You still want them to be challenged. You want your elite athletes to come out, work right alongside them and everybody walk away feeling like they got a great workout. We design all of our workouts that way so everyone can come out and do something.”

One of those elite athletes was Canyon Vogt, who plays right tackle and defensive end for the Early High School football team, said he comes multiple days each week but his primary motivation for coming out Saturday was to support a memorial fund for Mike Thompson, the son of family friend Marisha Stidom, who passed away in June.

“It’s a great workout. I’m getting ready for football season and this really helps me get ready for conditioning,” Vogt said. “I’ve been here at least 15 or 20 times. Every time I come I’m always happy being out here. You can go into the weight room all you want and get strong, but coming out here and running gives you a mental toughness you don’t get in a weight room. That is what I need help with, especially on the field running. It gets really tiring, but this helps me get mentally strong.”

Vogt said one of the aspects that keep in coming back is the connectedness of the patrons. With everyone having a common goal, physical fitness, he said the group has an odd energy that carries them through each workout.

“If they’re struggling with a workout or something that is hard, I want to help push them through and help as much as I can,” Vogt said.

The Gladiator Camp recently began operations in May, overseen by Gladiator Camp Trainer Paige Freeman. Freeman said getting the program off the ground was not easy, but she is seeing traction with increased visitors as word of the program grows. During her most recent workout, she implemented social media as a way of connecting the group. As part of the workout, they took what she coined a CG selfie and created a network of patrons which she believes creates a unique fitness community in a town with a population of a little more than 800 residents.

“It’s amazing. I had a really fun workout yesterday,” Freeman said. “I had them do something simple with their groups. They did a couple of exercises, but they got to know their partners and take a selfie. We called it the CG selfie workout and made it a competition … I was sneaky. They had to have their partners on Facebook and their trainers. Whoever had the most likes would get a prize.”

Pope said a community first approach to health and fitness has helped the organization takeoff since she started the Brownwood arm of the organization in January of 2017. She hopes through social media she can continue drawing more citizens and be a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

“It’s more than a workout. It’s a community and you want to build that community,” Pope said. “You want that community to be a family and that is what keeps them coming. It’s not the trainers. It’s not the workouts – even though you like them. It’s the community you build and the friendships you make.”

For more information regarding Camp Gladiator, check them out online by visiting their Facebook page.