Losing extra pounds and getting into better shape are two of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Unfortunately, they are also among the most difficult to maintain for busy commuters juggling Family, job and day to day routines.

The Fort Belvoir Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, however, offers a variety of newly upgraded facilities and specialized exercise programs that allow post residents to stay active and healthy throughout the year.

According to Herb Lechuga, sports and fitness specialist at Graves Fitness Center, it does not require a great deal of effort to get physically fit and to maintain a proper weight.

"Workout 30-45 minutes each day," he said. "This could be anything from simple walking to jogging to going to the gym and using the treadmill or elliptical machines."

Lechuga added that an array of specific exercises has been developed to target the mid-section, that area of the body most often affected by holiday overindulgence.

"Good exercises are abs workouts," he said. "Crunches, sit-ups, suspended front-side and reverse planks (isometric core exercises designed to strengthen the abdominal, back and shoulder muscles by maintaining difficult positions for extended periods of time) are all effective. Other exercises that can be done are doing bicep curls with light weights, triceps extensions or kickbacks, and the military press. Exercising with medicine balls and resistance bands are also beneficial routines to engage in."

Increased awareness of personal health and the benefits of leading active lifestyles are leading people to Belvoir's fitness facilities in growing numbers. And the new improvements to the gyms are making it even easier to reach personal health targets.

"The good news is that everybody is really doing this now," said Chris D'Orazio following a workout in the Graves Fitness center weight room Thursday. D'Orazio is the director of the Semper Fit health center at Quantico Marine Corps Base and is credited as the father of Marine Corps fitness for shaping healthy, positive military lifestyles during his tenure as Quantico's head of recreation and sports. "I got into this because I was very concerned with the life expectancy of most Marines after they retire because of bad lifestyle habits."

D'Orazio said that he is impressed with the renovations that have been taking place at Fort Belvoir's fitness facilities and that he's noticed their rising popularity during his visits.

"(The facilities) are very well thought out and so many people are in the exercise habit," he said. "What I think is particularly interesting is that you have everybody from every age. We have an admiral's wife here, a retired admiral who's in here all the time. It's also good to see men and women in here together. It used to be that females would not get anywhere near males in this environment. In today's world, that's all behind us. The focus is on working out. We're all here doing the same thing."
D'Ozario added that the workouts have become more comprehensive and are resulting in greater benefits for the entire body.

"The real key here is that (participants) are getting a chance to get a cardiovascular and muscular workout, and that can lead to greater bone density which can prevent osteoporosis."

As with any fitness regimen, proper nutrition plays an important role in reaching goals. And according to Lechuga, the holiday season can be one of the most difficult periods in controlling diet.

"I would recommend enjoying holiday foods but in moderation so it's not so hard to get off when the season is done," he said. "And always drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, even in the winter and during holiday times."

Fort Belvoir's gyms are fully equipped with the latest modern exercise machines and staffed by knowledgeable sports specialists providing instruction and advice to anyone looking to achieve physical fitness in the New Year, from the beginner to the experienced fitness enthusiast. The Belvoir Directorate of Public Works and director Bill Sanders, in a combined effort with the garrison commander and the Installation Management Command, have worked hard to secure the funds and initiate the infrastructure improvements to Belvoir's fitness facilities. These modern gyms are there to provide the means of maintaining healthy lifestyles for all post personnel.

"The holidays are a tough time to find time to exercise," Lechuga added. "But if you do, you will benefit from it in a huge way."

Additional information regarding the sports and fitness programs on Fort Belvoir is available from Graves Fitness Center (703) 806-5368, the Body Shop (703) 806-3100, or DFMWR (703) 805-2532. Updates on facility improvements and future plans are available from DPW director Bill Sanders (703) 806-3017.