Civilian Fitness Program makes lifestyle changes achievable

Christine June

***image1***Two past participants credit the Army’s Civilian Fitness Program for helping them make a lifestyle change that has continued to the present.

The Civilian Fitness Program grants Department of the Army civilians and local nationals three, one-hour sessions each week during normal duty hours to exercise. The program operates for six months at a time and is a one-time enrollment opportunity.

It’s intended to establish a foundation for employees, said Cathy Douglas, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine-Europe health promotion coordinator, who operates the program in the KMC.

“This program is to get people started while they’re here in Europe and motivate them to continue on with their physical fitness for a lifetime,” she said.

Doing just that is Gwen Galloway, a civilian with the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, who participated in the program more than three years ago. She credits the program with being able to lose 24 pounds in six weeks.
“I developed a new lifestyle in which I really began to care about what I eat and, if I don’t exercise as I should, I at least do some walking even if it’s just for five minutes,” she said.

Another success story is Guni Hinkel, a local national employee with the Theater Logistics Support Center-Europe, who participated in the program more than five years ago.

“The fitness program changed my way of life,” she said. “I realized I could do more than just your normal gym exercise program by trying out walking, swimming and aerobics to build my own exercise program.”

Before the initial assessment, participants must complete an enrollment package that includes supervisor’s approval and a health history questionnaire.

The questionnaire is the first step in getting medically cleared for the program. Depending upon their answers, participants may have to get approval from their doctor before the initial assessment. To be medically cleared for the program, participants undergo stamina, cardio and flexibility tests, and blood pressure checks at the initial assessment. 

Although completely voluntary, civilian employees and local nationals must coordinate the times of their fitness programs with their supervisors, said Ms. Douglas.

Exercise periods may be combined with employee’s breaks or lunch periods. However, Ms. Douglas said, unused exercise hours are not carried forward to subsequent weeks.

“Supervisors are encouraged to adjust work schedules to permit exercise times while remaining focused on their missions,” said Ms. Douglas.