RAEFORD – Laura Whiteside sees herself as a “jack-of-all-trades” of the fitness industry, but she has a special interest in services geared toward military and emergency services personnel, especially functional training with strong injury-prevention and nutritional components.
As the new manager of FirstHealth Fitness-Raeford, she expects to make good use of those skills, both inside and outside the center’s walls.
“I can go to them and train them with the equipment they have and go over the proper form and technique to prevent injury,” she says.
Whiteside’s comfort with the military environment comes naturally. Her father was a career Marine, and Whiteside spent most of her youth and early adult life in that atmosphere.
Before joining FirstHealth of the Carolinas as an exercise specialist at FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst early last year, she spent three years as assistant coordinator of the HITT (High-Intensity Tactical Training) program and assistant manager of the HITT facility on North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune Marine Base.
HITT is a strength and conditioning program endorsed by the NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) that focuses on improving speed, power, strength and endurance while reducing the likelihood of injury. The program consists of three training levels – athlete, combat and warrior – that allow the participant to increase the intensity of the workout while improving fitness and becoming more comfortable with the program.
John Caliri, director of FirstHealth Fitness, says Whiteside’s training and background brought a new fitness perspective to the Pinehurst center. He expects her to take services at the Raeford center, with its proximity to Fort Bragg’s military community, to a new level as well.
“Laura came to FirstHealth a couple years ago with an outstanding background in athletic performance, Olympic weightlifting and tactical fitness,” he says. “Her experience working with U.S. Marines aboard Camp Lejeune helped her make an immediate impact on our community at FirstHealth Fitness-Pinehurst. Her ability to work with high-level performance athletes, as well as beginners and those managing chronic disease, has improved the lives of the many people who have trained with her. She is bringing that same ability to impact the lives of our members and the community to Raeford and Hoke County.”
A native of Hubert, North Carolina, Whiteside earned her B.S. degree in Exercise and Sports Science from East Carolina University. She is certified as a TSAC-F (Tactical Strength and Conditioning Facilitator) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, a program designed to help tactical facilitators increase the performance, readiness and longevity of tactical athletes while decreasing the likelihood of fitness-related injuries.
Since 2005, the TSAC program has helped military, law enforcement, fire and rescue, protective services, first responders and other emergency services personnel increase effectiveness and lower costs through a combination of cutting-edge research, proven training methods and field experience.
A USAW Advanced Sports Performance Coach and Certified Personal Trainer, Whiteside is also experienced in Hardstyle Kettlebell, Dragon Door and TRX Level 3. Her areas of expertise include military training, Olympic weightlifting, strength and conditioning for all fitness levels, general health and fitness, youth fitness and weight loss.
At FirstHealth Fitness-Raeford, Whiteside replaced longtime center manager Suzanne Kim who left FirstHealth to travel with her husband, a retired veteran of the U.S. Army.
“I wish Laura all the best here at FirstHealth Fitness-Raeford,” she says. “I have enjoyed working here and for FirstHealth, and I know Laura will enjoy the center, the employees and the community as much as I have.”
For more information on the medically based services provided by the FirstHealth Fitness program, visit www.firsthealth.org/fitness.