Feature Article - March 2008
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Working With Warriors

Military Fitness and Recreation: Serving Those Who Serve

By Richard Zowie

Popularity Contest

What are the most popular fitness activities among U.S. troops?

In the Navy, they tend to prefer using fitness equipment. According to Swilley, Navy fitness centers currently house more than 7,000 pieces of various cardiovascular equipment and more than 21,000 strength training machines—not including free weight equipment.

"The most popular and commonly used fitness program elements in the Navy are informal fitness workouts in the fitness center using cardiovascular machines, resistance strength machines and free weights," Swilley explained. "The most popular cardio machines are treadmills and elliptical cross-trainers. Group exercise classes are also very popular and are offered on all Navy installations in varying numbers of classes and sessions. Additionally, lap swimming is popular among all ages."

Swilley added that more than 2,000 intramural men's and women's sports programs are provided annually, and that the most popular intramural sports are softball, basketball, soccer and volleyball.

Stanfill said that with his base's diverse customer base, it's almost impossible to determine which activities or programs are the most popular. However, they do have a large number of participants in their intramural program, with more than 160 teams participating in various sports.

Many patrons use the cardio and strength equipment in the base's six fitness centers. Their fitness runs (each one is themed) are also popular, with an early Christmas run fielding more than 250 runners and giving out more than $2,500 in prizes.

"Volksmarches (a non-competitive, 10-kilometer fitness walk on an outdoor path) are quite popular in Europe and have a strong following amongst the many Air Force personnel who have been assigned in Europe," Stanfill added. "Paintball is also quite popular with the airmen in training. It gives them an activity that is fun, outdoors and away from their training environment."

Bruce Lloyd, public affairs officer for Naval Air Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said his base's location makes for some very active sports competitions. "It's much more intense as we are the sole provider for the entire isolated and remote-duty station community," he explained.