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Women tackle grueling goals at Largo boot camp

His booming voice fills the warehouse.

"Keep it moving, we've got 20 more seconds,'' Stacey Simmons yells. "We're sooooo good and remember what we say, 'I'M NOT TIRED YET.' ''

Six women follow his commands, rotating between stations. Two work the weights. Two do shoulder presses and two lie on the floor, moving their legs in the air, counting off kicks.

It's the second week of the third session of Simmons' NFL Boot Camp for Women, which is held at Stacey Simmons Sports Training. It's a 6-month-old business near the SPCA Tampa Bay on 130th Avenue N.

The business offers strength and core training, as well as speed and conditioning classes. Owners include Simmons, a former NFL and University of Florida football player, and Nate Lenz, a current student at Columbia University and former football standout at Clearwater Central Catholic High School.

Simmons, a Pinellas Park High School science teacher, has worked with athletes for more than a decade. He decided it was time to give it a go with the women-only program.

Inside the 2,500-square-foot facility, the women meet three times a week. His equipment includes weight machines and agility ropes. When the class meets during daylight, the women go outside to push blocking sleds and carry metal kegs above their heads while doing lunges. Every class includes stretches, push-ups, bench presses, ab cycles, footwork and running — lots of running.

"Yes, I do need to yell at the women,'' said Simmons, who is married to Hortensia Simmons and has three daughters. "As a trainer, you can't be too nice. They have to keep moving.''

Are these women ready for some football?

"He works us hard,'' said Delane Ward of Seminole, a diabetic who started the classes after seeing Simmons' flier in her doctor's office. "But he's the best fitness trainer I've had.''

Candy Saunders, 58, of St. Petersburg acknowledges the adage no pain, no gain, but she doesn't leap with excitement when it's time to do the Stacey Simmons suicide.

"We'll say, nooooo, not the suicide,'' she said.

"Oh my gosh, the suicide is brutal,'' Ward added.

In the drill, the women run a series of 100-yard sprints to and from five cones.

Another participant is Simmons' sister, Veronica Jose. She is well aware of her brother's demanding disposition.

"But ever since he was little, he knows sports. He is the man,'' said Jose, 48. "Deep down, we know he's got a heart of gold.

Jose has gone from 335 pounds to 305 pounds since joining the boot camp. "I tell everybody that I will have a body like Beyonce by summer," she said.

Along with new physiques, the women find they also have a new interest in NFL Sundays.

"I used to watch football on TV and just say, 'Oh, football, whoopee,' " Ward said. "But now I look at the players and see the theory behind their steps. When I watch certain patterns they do, I think about these classes, and I have a whole new respect for players.''

If you go

What: Stacey Simmons NFL Boot Camp for Women, a five-week program that runs three days a week.

When: 6 to 7 p.m. Monday and Wednesday; 8 to 9 a.m. Saturday.

Where: Stacey Simmons Sports Training, 9189 130th Ave. N, Largo.

Cost: $255 per five-week session.

For information: Call (727) 418-5669.

Women tackle grueling goals at Largo boot camp 11/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 1:29pm]
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