Due to the popularity of the functional fitness training program at Specker Field House, the Sports and Fitness department of the Fort Belvoir Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation recently added Friday lunchtime sessions.

Functional fitness trainers expanded the program to include Fridays as a result of increasing demand for the training and consistently large turnouts to the existing time slots.

The popularity of the program is in the variety of its workouts, said Sports and Fitness specialist Herb Lechuga.

"The program began being just for Soldiers, and they were recognizing (the importance) of body-movement (exercises) - bending, squatting, sitting and turning," he said. "Soldiers (in the field) are carrying around 120 pounds of gear, and if you make a sudden twisting turn and are not used to it, you're going to the ground quick. So mobility training is the main thing."

Lechuga said that increasing the focus on mobility emerged recently with the Army's evolving physical training requirements. The program's goal is to allow individuals to develop operational fitness and to improve strength, mobility, and energy to a level exceeding the standard military fitness program.

"It was a matter of asking: how can we expect Soldiers to take cover (with these equipment loads) without training them to be able to stay low and stay mobile?"

Lechuga noted that the mobility aspect of the program is another primary reason for its growing popularity, combining with variety and intensity to provide the total workout.

"When you look at the nuts and bolts of it, it's insane," he said. "It's funny, but when someone starts it for the first time, in the first six weeks they think they haven't lost any weight; if anything, they think they've actually gained some. What they don't realize is that their body fat has gone way down and what they're gaining is muscle."

The program engages participants in aerobic and strength training exercises during 60-minute sessions offered throughout the year. The sessions are free and open to anyone interested in improving cardiovascular fitness and training the body as an integrated unit. For Soldiers, functional training focuses on developing skills they can utilize to increase operational performance emphasizing mobility, strength, restoration, and energy system development.

Individuals interested in the functional fitness training program should be aware that Specker Field House is currently undergoing winterization and that patrons should call Sports and Fitness regularly for availability and schedule updates, according to Alicia Balanag, sports and fitness specialist and assistant to Lechuga.

Additional information regarding the program and Fort Belvoir's gym facilities is available from Herb Lechuga at Humberto.lechuga@ us.army.mil, or by contacting Graves Fitness Center at (703) 806-5368 or the Body Shop at (703) 806-3100.