"New" Newman Fitness Center Serves Stewart Community
October 10, 2008
<b> FORT STEWART, GA </b> -- The last-minute, finishing touches of an extensive Newman Fitness Center renovation and expansion project have been completed, and the now better-than-ever facility is bustling with patrons and programs.
And the patrons' verdict is in. They like the changes - a lot.
The additions and changes involved a number of areas, among them the swimming pool, the cardio room, an additional weight room, an aerobics room, an expanded child care area and a new, colorful interior design.
The work, including a recently awarded drainage project in the expanded Newman parking area, cost a total of $2.8 million, according to Thomas V. Maulden, acting director of the Directorate of Public Works.
All of it, said Morale, Welfare and Recreation Fitness Director Jake Battle was done because the Army is trying to provide the best possible facility and equipment for the Soldiers. "We consider our Soldiers to be heroes. They're the best Soldiers in the Army," he said.
Battle said Newman, built in 1987, has always been a busy facility, and space was needed to accommodate a growing military population. He said 21,000-23,000 Soldiers, Family Members, retirees and permitted guests use Newman each month. The facility also serves as a location for ceremonies and events requiring room for large crowds.
Newman patrons are quick to praise the work that was done.
The juice bar, called The Smooth Operator, the Family friendly atmosphere and accommodations impressed Spc. Vanessa Victor. "After coming back from Iraq, it was a welcome surprise. It's very nice," she said. The Warrior Transition Battalion Soldier was at Newman for physical training, enjoying a little racquetball.
Michelle Rodriquez, manager of the popular Smooth Operator, said she and her staff enjoy serving the Soldiers and their Family Members. "I think this is one thing we can do for the Soldiers that they enjoy and they love. They're a great bunch."
The arrangement of the workout areas won praise from Sgt 1st Class Jeff Haiungs, who has been using the facility for three years and is there for two hours, five days a week.
"I like that they made the cardio room just cardio instead of having weights in there, and separating the two weight rooms, where they have free weights on one side and then the (selectorized) system on the other side. Haiungs uses the cardio room and both weight rooms in his daily exercise regimen.
Maj. Marc Bouthe, Belgian exchange officer serving as Deputy S3 for 1st Brigade, and his wife, Kristien, worked out for about 30 minutes in the cardio room. "We have a commitment to do PT as a couple once a week," he said, and they love to use Newman's facilities to keep that commitment.
"This is great to do as a Family," Bouthe said. "You can always find two machines, side by side. Back home, we don't have such a facility on base, so this is an opportunity for us."
Kristien Bouthe said they also love the Newman pool, and use it often. She appreciates the extensive choice of physical activities available at Newman and the fact that it is without cost. "We don't go to the gym in Belgium because it's expensive, and you don't know if you will be able to use it over time," she said.
Battle said, "I get a lot of positive feedback about the improvements, and I would say the changes are attracting a lot of usage. By making these changes, we have increased our usage by 24 to 30 percent. But even prior to the upgrades, the usage here was extremely high because of what we were already offering.
The Fitness Director said Newman offers Soldiers an opportunity to take their PT program to another level.
The end result is they will be able to go out and perform better on their PT tests, he said, and it will make them more able and fit Warriors.
Battle sees offering a top-rate facility as "an opportunity to serve.
"When you think about what these guys and gals put on the line day in and day out in combat, the mindset has to be that there's nothing we can do that would be too good for our Soldiers," Battle said.