Garrison challenge to boost wellness
February 15, 2013
FORT SILL, Okla.-- Col. Paul Hossenlopp, Fort Sill Garrison commander and a lifelong fitness proponent, initiated his wellness challenge, seeking to promote healthy weight loss and increased fitness in employees.
To motivate participants toward achieving wellness goals, those who lose at least 10 pounds during the three-month challenge period from Feb. 15 to May 15 can earn a four-hour time off award. They can also earn four hours off by completing a 5K walk or run. Also, the employee who loses the most weight and the employee who runs the fastest 5K time will each receive a $150 on the spot award.
Claudia Mejia, Garrison fitness coordinator, will oversee the weigh-ins to establish a bench mark for each participant. However, her teaching expertise may more directly help them achieve their goals.
Mejia teaches many fitness classes that have helped countless men and women rediscover good health and vitality in their lives. She added the built-in incentives should encourage most people to take up for the challenge.
The toned and energetic Rinehart Fitness Center manager said three months to lose 10 pounds is a realistic goal most people should be able to reach if they watch what they eat and exercise.
"Those who train to walk or run a 5K and were sedentary before, they will shed that 10 pounds easily," she said.
Each organization can determine who is in charge of weigh ins which can be conducted between Feb. 15-22. Employees will weigh again April 1 and May 15. The 5K walk/run is May 23 with an alternate date for those who work other shifts. Family members are also invited to participate in the walk/run.
For some people beginning a fitness regimen isn't just a decision to get active. Some need to consult a physician first to ensure they exercise safely. Regardless of a person's well-being before starting, he or she can schedule a fitness assessment with Mejia. The assessment checks body fat percentage and weight of the individual. It may also include sit-ups and push-ups to establish a base line to chart progress. From there, she discusses workout plans and nutrition. She also leads the individual through a workout plan once familiarizing him or her with each aspect of the exercises.
In addition to the classes Mejia leads, volunteers also teach other classes. She said the availability of certified instructors ebbs and flows from one season to the next. One thing that doesn't change is the requirement that instructors are certified to lead a particular class. At this moment, Mejia could use another Spin instructor.
She said the Cooper Institute in Dallas offers certifications as do online schools.
"Safety is the number one concern so instructors must be first aid/CPR certified. They must also instruct in a manner to verify people perform the exercise in a correct manner," she said.
Certified instructors also know how to create a class, monitor participants and keep control of the activity.
Most fitness classes occur during morning hours, though again, this is due to volunteer availability.
For those looking for a good evening workout, she recommended Mike Garcia's boxercise class which meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6 p.m. at Goldner Fitness Center.
Other evening fitness options are:
water aerobics, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5-6 p.m. at Rinehart;
Spinning, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Honeycutt;
step and kick, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Honeycutt; and
Spinning, Wednesdays, 6-7 p.m. at Honeycutt.
A schedule of fitness classes is available online at www.sillmwr.com. Select Recreation, then Fitness Centers then select the hyperlink at the top of the page to view classes by day, time and location.
According to Operations Order 001-13, people cannot exercise during normal duty hours. It said those enrolled in the Civilian Wellness and Fitness Plan may continue to participate in that.
With the challenge in mind, Couch to 5K evening classes will start again in March. Though the start date begins part way through the challenge, Mejia said the evenings should be warmer and daylight will last longer.
She can also schedule groups interested in starting a weight training program, providing them 30-40 minutes to learn a good routine.
Although the challenge is a great start and something Mejia believes should motivate people, the litmus test of its effectiveness will be realized in months and years to come.
"I just hope when the program ends they don't fall back into old habits," she said.
Fortunately, for those hoping to rejuvenate themselves, success stories abound from people who previously benefited from Mejia's fitness classes. Sometimes when people return and tell her of their successes, those achievements elicit tears of joy.
"I get emotional because people tell me of getting off medications, losing weight and regaining their self-esteem and self-confidence," she said.
One woman showed up for a fitness class, someone Mejia didn't recognize. Realizing this, the woman spoke of how she dropped nearly 90 pounds by changing her diet and attending Mejia's fitness classes.
"These classes are my outlet and help me to deal with my stress. I'm busy all day long, but teaching is what I love to do," said Mejia.