PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (April 13, 2022) — The Army’s Civilian Fitness and Health Promotion Program is going strong at the Presidio of Monterey.
The program started in 2021 and aims to improve employee well-being and productivity by allowing full-time civilians to take up to three hours of administrative leave a week to work out. The program is flexible with workout times and exercise types, and many say that has been the key to their success with the program.
Charles Lyons, a service specialist at Army Community Service, said he started in November 2021, and the program’s flexibility allows him to work exercise into his schedule instead of having to cancel on days when he has a conflict with this usual workout time.
The result is more exercise and increased productivity, said Lyons, who typically exercises by going for a walk or strengthening his core with suspension training.
“It breaks up your day and it takes you out of your norm to make you feel really comfortable with the way your day is going,” Lyons said. “If you’re stressed out in the morning, you’re just, ‘I can’t wait to work out.’ Then once you work out, you get those endorphins going and then, next thing you know, bam, ‘I feel good,’ and you’re ready to keep going.”
Likewise, Bishoy Saleh, a budget analyst for USAG PoM, said the program’s flexibility helps him pursue a higher quality of life and increased wellness. He mixes up his workouts with jogging, swimming, weight training, walking and biking.
“I appreciate the Army’s guidance and encouragement for civilian employees to engage in fitness and physical activities throughout working days,” Saleh said.
The program is life changing, Saleh said, and he recommends it to all his coworkers. “The program does increase productivity and work output,” he said.
Katilynn Snow, head of the installation’s Employment Readiness Program, said she began taking advantage of the fitness program soon after she started her job in February, and so far appreciates not only its flexibility, but the mental clarity she receives at work after a workout.
Snow spends her fitness hour doing High Intensity Interval Training, or HIIT, and ultimately, her family benefits from her ability to work out during the day as well, she said.
“Doing it three times a week [at work] gives me that extra hour in the evening to spend time with my family instead of working out in the garage and then coming in and trying to rush through our evening routine,” Snow said.
Although the program is Army-wide, a USAG PoM command policy governs how employees at PoM may use the program.
According to the policy, employees may use only one hour at a time and no more than 80 hours in a calendar year. They cannot not use their hour at the start or end of the duty day, but they may use the hour at any other time. Supervisors must approve workout schedules, however, and mission needs come first.
The one hour of workout time includes traveling to and from the exercise site as well as showering. Participants, however, can schedule their hour of exercise in conjunction with their lunch hour, ultimately giving them up to two hours to work out and return to work.
Also, as long as the exercise maintains or improves fitness levels or body conditioning, participants have nearly endless possibilities. Suitable activities may include those that address cardiovascular and aerobic endurance, flexibility, muscular strength, and body composition, according to the policy.
To sign up, employees and supervisors must execute an annual written program participation agreement that coincides with the performance appraisal period.
Employees must self-certify that they are not aware of any medical conditions or limitations that would put them at risk of injury or illness while participating in the program. Supervisors then submit the medical clearance forms to the California Medical Detachment Wellness Center for review prior to final approval.
In addition, the program allows part-time employees to participate by adjusting their allowable leave to correspond with the number of hours they work per pay period. For example, three hours is 7.5% of 40 hours, so to determine the alloweable time, the employee would multiply 7.5% by the number of hours worked. Employees who are teleworking are eligible to participate as well.
For more details and the full policy, visit https://home.army.mil/monterey/application/files/1516/3182/9054/CMD_POLICY_41_DHR_CIV_FITNESS_Annexes_A__B_SEP2021.pdf. Scroll to the end to find a printable participation agreement.