Chantil Wright stays fit with one of the elliptical machines in Cantrell Fitness Center. Under the Civilian Fitness Program, authorized Department of the Army civilians will be allowed three hours a week of excused administrative leave to exercise for up to six months at designated areas on Fort Polk. The program begins Oct. 15 and ends April 15.

FORT POLK, La. " For the full-time wife, mom and worker whose schedule doesn't allow her the time to lose a few extra pounds, or the man who doesn't have time to cook and opts for a frozen food dinner, consider Fort Polk's Health Promotion Operations Office for a chance at a healthier lifestyle.

With an agreement between Installation Management Command, Forces Command and Medical and Dental Activity commands on Fort Polk, the HPOO offers the Civilian Fitness Program within the installation's civilian community.

The program authorizes Department of the Army civilians up to three hours of excused administrative leave per week to participate in an exercise of their choosing for up to six months.

Permanent and temporary appropriated and non-appropriated fund DA civilians are allowed to participate in the program only once in their career, and temporary positions appointments have to be for greater than 18 months.

According to Lisa Martinez, Health Promotion Officer, the Civilian Fitness Program isn't a new concept.

"The program comes from Army Regulation 600-63, the Health Promotion regulation," Martinez said.

"There are many installations that have done this for quite some time, but it wasn't being implemented on Fort Polk."

Martinez said the idea to bring the program to Fort Polk was brought to her attention by the Directorate of Human Resources and Equal Employment Opportunity Office, who were already doing the program, but thought it could benefit the whole installation.

"Once I started talking to some of the civilian workers across the installation, I realized they really wanted it," she said.

"It's a motivator for them to come into work and be excited, knowing that they can have their one hour of time to work out. So once I saw there was a need for it, I did everything in my power to implement the program on Fort Polk."

To take part in the program, civilians must complete an enrollment packet and submit an approval form to their supervisor.

If they receive authorization from their supervisor, the forms are submitted to HPOO for approval.

Martinez said because the program is new, HPOO has capped program participation at 200, on a first-come, first-served basis. If the program is successful, that number could increase.

"Not every supervisor can let their employees participate at one time so this gives them the opportunity to let workers have turns. It will allow them a little more flexibility in their workforce and make the employee feel valued," Martinez said.

The first session of the program begins Oct. 15 and lasts until April 15.

Once accepted into the program, civilians are only authorized to exercise on the installation which includes: All Morale, Welfare, Recreation fitness centers, housing community centers with a fitness room, Bayne-Jones Army Community Hospital walking trail, Warrior Hills Golf Course walking trail and Honor Field.

Each location will have a sign-in roster that will be collected weekly by HPOO as an accountability measure for participants.

To exercise at an alternate location, civilians must attain authorization from their supervisor and HPOO.

Participants must also maintain an activity log to track their participation and will have the opportunity to attend courses given by BJACH's Preventive Medicine on subjects like nutrition and heart health.

Martinez said an assessment will be done at the beginning and end of the program that will track participants' height, weight and body mass.

"I'm hoping to do an assessment six to 12 months after the last assessment to see if they continued in that lifestyle," Martinez said. "So we can say 'hey, this program is working and we want to continue with it.'"

Martinez said the fitness program's goal is to establish a lifestyle change for civilians and create a holistically healthier workforce that will go beyond the six- month program.

"If we get one person to change their lifestyle, then that's good enough for me," she said.
For more information regarding the Civilian Fitness Program or to obtain an enrollment packet, call Health Promotion Operations Office at 531-4076/2018 or e-mail lisa.m.martinez@us.army.mil. Applications must be submitted by Sept. 9.

Page last updated Mon August 22nd, 2011 at 00:00