BAMBERG, Germany - "It's not the speed, it's the miles, is our motto" said Duane Kozel, progenitor of U.S. Army Garrison Bamberg's new Freedom Through Fitness program.

"We wanted a program that would encourage all garrison personnel to get fit," said Kozel, "but we wanted it to be multi-faceted enough to allow the participants to improve their fitness doing things they enjoy."

"This meant that in some instances the fitness activity was nowhere near the post or its fitness facilities," he said, "For example, you can earn points participating in a volksmarch anywhere in Germany."

"The official goal of the fitness program is to "develop a systematic process to deliver garrison health and fitness programs to the adult population at multiple levels combining various agencies within the Bamberg footprint." The ultimate goal is to improve the overall health of the Bamberg Military community.

Freedom Through Fitness is open to active duty Soldiers 18 years or older, family members, retirees and U.S. and local national employees. All that is required is a simple registration process, completion of a Physical Activity Readiness questionnaire (PAR-Q) and the ability to track and record your progress on a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

The questionnaire is required because although regular physical activity is safe for most people, some people should check with their doctor before they start becoming much more physically active. This questionnaire will help participants know if they should consult their doctor before participating.

One of the most unique aspects of this program is that it encompasses various forms of health fitness.

"Traditionally when one thinks of fitness activities, they think of physical activities such as running, bicycling, swimming, basketball, soccer and other activities," said Kozel. "Our program includes those activities plus activities related to mental and spiritual health as well,"

"For example, attending life skills classes like CPR, behavioral health, ASAP unit training functions, substance abuse prevention related community events or campaigns, tobacco cessation classes, ethics training programs or retreats at the Bamberg Chapel all earn participants points," he added.

Kozel said active duty Soldiers can also earn points annually for maintaining their dental readiness.

Kozel is also excited by the community participation with this fitness program.

"We have substantial support from USAG Bamberg Command Group, Family Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine," Kozel said, "as well as the Bamberg Health and Dental Clinics, Alcohol and Substance Abuse program, Public Affairs Office, Department of Emergency Services, Department of Logistics, Department of Safety, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Department of Human Resources, the Military Personnel Division and the Postal Department."

"This level of support is critical for the success of such a unique program," Kozel added.

Points are accumulated in number of miles, hours or sessions depending on the activity and every month USAG Bamberg will host a Red Letter Event where participants can earn 10 points.

A dodge ball tournament Feb. 11 and was the program kick-off, and was the first of the Red Letter Event. Competitors were encouraged to wear costumes as team uniforms and there were two winners at the end of the day, the dodge ball tournament winners (The Mike Tango) and the team with the most creative costumes (MWR - The Elvis).

The next Red Letter Event is the Community Health Fair and Retiree Appreciation Day on March 21. The event will kick off with a 5k fun run/walk at 9 a.m. followed by the health fair at 11 a.m. There will be begins at 1 p.m. followed by the Stand Up and Fight Mixed Martial Arts Club at 2 p.m. The event will conclude following the prize drawings at 2:30 p.m.

"I am excited about this initiative and participation is essential to engage in wellness activities to improve fitness level; whether it is at the gym, in a class or on an adventure activity, get your freedom through fitness," stated Lt. Col. Gary A. Rosenberg in a declaration of the new program.

"It's not the speed; it truly is the miles," he added.

Freedom Through Fitness members will win through gaining physical, mental or spiritual fitness, and are eligible for a variety of program awards based on points they achieve. The awards include things like key chains, coffee mugs, caps, T-shirts, plaques and hooded sweatshirts, plus participants achieving 1,000 to 4,000 points are eligible for special prize drawings such as an iPod, spa weekend, warm-up suit, running shoes or other items. The prize drawing will be at the Dodge ball 2 tournament the first week of Jan. 2010.

Registration forms can be found at the Freedom Fitness Facility, Outdoor Recreation or online at Drop off the completed form at the above locations or email the form to