Incirlik physician helps Airmen stay fit during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Andrea Salazar
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — Fitness centers are closed across a number of military installations around the U.S. and abroad over COVID-19 concerns, but one Incirlik physician has found a way to help keep Airmen fit at home.


Maj. Emanuel Díaz-Alonso, a family physician assigned to the 39th Medical Group, has found a way to keep Airmen here motivated with self-made fitness class videos to do at home through YouTube. 


“Normally I would teach in-person classes here ranging from Zumba to yoga, high-intensity interval training, indoor cycling and kickboxing,” said Diaz-Alonso. “With the gym being closed, I still wanted to make it a priority to show people it is still possible to stay fit at home.” 


The classes are posted once a week on YouTube and can be found by searching on the website for the “Emanuel Diaz” channel. He also posts them publicly on both his personal Facebook page and the Incirlik 411 Facebook page.  


Diaz-Alonso became interested in teaching fitness classes at Incirlik to improve the health of his patients. 


“My goal is to engage my patients in different modalities of exercise instead of doing the same thing over and over,” said Diaz-Alonso. “Initially, I wanted to keep the same schedule I had at my last base, teaching one class daily in a private gym, then I realized people liked them a lot so I decided to teach two classes a day.” 


Diaz-Alonso stressed the importance of exercise and health, especially during a global pandemic. 


“Scientifically, we know that your immune system improves with exercise and also helps you relax,” said Diaz-Alonso. “Exercise is a great tool to help you balance a stressful day. As we know, we are going through hard times now and we need to find ways to destress. Whether it’s indoor cycling to go hard and intense, yoga to develop patience, balance and peace, or kickboxing to drain excess energy and to help you focus.”


Being in a different country away from family and friends can be difficult for service members stationed and deployed at Incirlik Air Base, he added.


“This is not an easy place,” said Diaz-Alonso. “We are away from home but we have each other’s support. Plus now, we are more restricted than before; therefore, we should find ways to clear our minds to stay sharp and strong. As we get fit physically, our minds will follow. Make exercise a fun activity, mix it up a little and don’t take it too serious. Take life one step at a time and you'll succeed.”