CAMP ZAMA, Japan (Aug. 15, 2019) -- After Staff Sgt. Josh Beysselance took a fitness test with the Camp Zama Army Wellness Center last October, one of his main goals was to improve his VO2 max level.

The number is an indicator of cardiorespiratory fitness, and although Beysselance was in the "good/excellent" range, he wanted to up it to the "superior" range. So over the ensuing 10 months he focused on improving his cardio and muscular endurance.

After a follow-up test Aug. 14, Beysselance found he had improved by about 22 percent and successfully reached his goal.

"I'm proud to report that you did really well," Shannon Vo, a health educator at the center, said after Beysselance got off a treadmill at the Yano Fitness Center and saw the results.

The fitness tests, which also measure flexibility, back strength and grip strength, can help Soldiers and other eligible members of the community reach their fitness goals by providing concrete metrics, said Lauren Williams, director of the Camp Zama AWC. The center also offers body composition measurements with the Bod Pod, metabolic testing and a series of four individual stress management sessions.

"It's really dependent on the individuals' goals," Williams said. "We meet them where they're at with what they want to accomplish and then just provide them the tools to get there."

In Beysselance's case, he first came to the center because his unit, the 78th Signal Battalion, is a test unit for the Army's new Army Combat Fitness Test, and they all took the center's fitness test to see where they needed to improve. Soldiers will start taking the new test, which includes the 2-mile run; deadlift; standing power throw; T-pushup; leg tuck; and sprint, drag, carry in October, but they will take it twice before it starts counting on the record in October 2020.

Although he is the first from his unit to take the center's test again, Beysselance said he is sure others from his unit will see positive results if they do a follow-up.

"I think it's helped dramatically on what we need to be focusing on," Beysselance said. "We've shifted our entire workout program to a more high-intensity, endurance style, so everyone can prepare their body for the six-event PT test as opposed to just pushups, situps and a 2-mile run. I feel like everybody is doing better."

Williams said effort is always a big piece of reaching fitness goals, and the center's tests complement that aspect by providing follow-up information on a regular basis.

"If a person is willing to change and they're willing to put in the effort, the metrics that we provide can help them fine-tune their plan for success and follow up regularly with us so they're able to see the progress that they're making," Williams said.

Vo agreed, adding that the tests help reinforce progress.

"If you're checking in with us every four weeks, that's really ideal," Vo said. "We can look at your numbers and say, 'What you're doing is totally working,' or [ask], 'Where can we help you tweak things?' or, 'Where can we look [at last month's results] and see where there might be some areas for improvement?'"

At the same time, however, those who work at the center recognize that some people might not want to see their fitness numbers, and Vo said the center can still help.

"There's a way to dabble with our wellness center without having to see numbers or be assessed," Vo said. "You can be anywhere on the spectrum of readiness to be engaged with fitness, whether it's just learning about better nutrition tips, how to prepare healthy meals quickly, to actually being assessed. There are just various stages that you can be in and still interact with us."

For example, the center offers Triad Tuesday Walks at 11:40 a.m. every Tuesday at the torii gate across the street from the Camp Zama Chapel, and seven classes that can help with sleep, nutrition, stress management and more.

In addition to Soldiers and their family members who are older than 18, Department of the Army civilians and retirees are also eligible to self-refer, Williams said. Dependents of Soldiers who are older than 13 but younger than 18 can also use the center with a medical referral. Sometimes commanders will refer Soldiers to the center.

For more information, call the center at 046-407-4073 or DSN (315) 263-4073.