NATICK, Mass. – A new year as well as life’s every day stressors can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing, but the Army has programs aimed at helping Civilians to manage stress and promote wellness.
Last year, a reinvigorated Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program was announced encouraging Civilians to adopt a more maintainable healthy lifestyle normally reserved for military personnel. This program grants civilians administrative leave, after coordination with their supervisor, each week for physical fitness, health, and nutrition classes.
The connection between our physical, mental, and spiritual health is important, and according to Chaplain Mark Miller, chaplain integrator at Natick Soldier Systems Center the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way many reach health and wellness goals.
“The way we maintain our goals has changed,” said Miller. “Now, with the [Army Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program], our workforce can start adding in a way to take better care of themselves without worrying about taking away from their lives. And that is key in health and wellness.”
Prior to March 2021, the program had a six-month limit. Now the program is available for as long as a person is employed with the Army. Civilian employees must follow a few standards set up by the program, which is laid out in a form signed by the employee and their supervisor. Be sure to check with your supervisor for local information before beginning this program, which encourages setting goals for wellness.
“We have to look at ways of sustaining a positive work climate for ourselves,” said Miller. “We have goals at work and now we can work our personal health goals in as well. This will lessen some of the pressure of balancing work and life outside of work.”
One way NSSC is showing commitment to this program is by allowing employees to use the CPT James Burt Fitness Center located on the installation, any time of day.
“Being able to access the gym right here is a bonus to the uniformed and Civilian personnel,” said Bert Scott, the supervisory recreation specialist at NSSC. “The ability to work out during the day and not have to take extra time out helps increase Family time instead of time on the road or finding the right gym to go to.”
Working out on the installation has additional benefits as well, Scott pointed out.
“The use of the CPT James Burt Fitness Center is free to all who work on the installation, so it’s an additional cost that is not being spent,” said Scott. “The last couple of year’s finances may have been a concern to some and this is one way to positively impact the budget and mental health.”
This program sends a message to the Civilians who make up Team Natick that people come first.
“This program encourages healthier employees, which directly impacts Army readiness,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Roldan, U.S. Army Natick – Garrison command sergeant major. “Physical fitness is a foundational element of readiness and leads to increased mental toughness and agility. Our Civilians are critical to the success of the Army’s mission and I fully support any program that improves and advocates for Civilian wellness and fitness.”
The fitness center is open 24 hours a day and has many virtual options as well.
“Currently, we have online fitness classes,” said Scott. “With COVID-19 concerns, we place the health of our people at the forefront of our minds. We created the classes to keep them engaged in a health program.”
If you have any questions, please call the CPT James Burt Fitness Center at 508-206-4098, or check the website at www.natick.armymwr.com/burt-building-fitness-center.