FORT LEE, Va. (March 3, 2011) -- It's "off-and-on" time for the civilian employees of the installation workforce. That's "off your chair and on your feet" to participate in a new fitness program that is part of a nationwide effort to improve the overall health of Americans everywhere.

The Fort Lee Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation office will launch its Civilian Employee Fitness Challenge program March 7. It will feature a variety of high-energy events that will include presidential awards and other goodies for the most loyal and enthusiastic participants.

The program is Fort Lee's response to the President's Fitness Challenge, an effort that is meant to encourage citizens young and old to adopt a more active lifestyle. Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Installation Management Command, is a big fan of the concept, and he recently issued a challenge to all Army installations to involve civilian employees in localized fitness programs.

"We're taking it one step farther by creating our own version of the fitness challenge," said Alyssa Kerver, an FMWR program manager.

"Our slogan is ‘Ready, Set and Reward,' and we hope that the incentives of better health, more productivity and some nice take-away prizes will result in many civilian employees at Fort Lee stepping up for the challenge."

Melissa Magowan, deputy to the U.S. Army Garrison, Fort Lee, commander, played a key role in organizing the new program and envisions many benefits from participation.

"Regular exercise helps individuals perform their jobs better, improves the quality of family and leisure time and extends lives," she said. "We want our civilian employees to do their best while supporting our military members, and we want them to enjoy life as fully as possible.

"This program demonstrates our goal of caring for the ‘Army family.'"

Another plus, Magowan continued, is the opportunity to participate in a structured program that includes low-stress activities like the Steppin' Out at Lunch walking group that began this week. Corrine Hermans, a fitness trainer, leads the lunchtime strolls that will continue Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., beginning at garrison headquarters.

Those wishing to participate in the Civilian Fitness Program can pick up an activity card at participating FMWR locations. Starting Monday, the punch cards will be available at MacLaughlin and Clark Fitness Centers, the Fort Lee Bowling Center, the Cardinal Golf Club and the Warrior Zone, said Kerver.

For every 10 punches collected from FMWR activities, a Civilian Fitness Program participant can draw for a prize. The giveaways include gift cards from area businesses, golf packs, bowling packs, personal training sessions and more. Furthermore, participants may sign up for the online-only Presidential Champions Challenge at and log their activity times there. This program recognizes achievement at the bronze, silver, gold and platinum levels. Both Clark and MacLaughlin centers will have computer kiosks where civilians may register and log their activities.

Fitness activities at the Adventure Park, Battle Drive Pool (open May 28-Labor Day), Bowling Center, Cardinal Golf Club, fitness centers, intramural sports and outdoor recreation may be credited to any of the fitness challenge programs. Eligible activities include batting cages, disc golf, rock wall, skateboarding, swimming lessons, bowling three games, playing nine holes of golf, taking fitness classes, participating in a walking program, working with a personal trainer, weight training or playing intramural sports.

Through the Outdoor Recreation office, participants will receive fitness challenge credit for archery, canoeing, fishing, geocaching, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, biking, paintball, personally owned weapons range events, snow skiing, snowboarding, trap and skeet, water skiing and whitewater rafting.

FMWR is also organizing a Fort Lee team to participate in Richmond's Monument Avenue 10K run on April 2. Each participant - Kerver is aiming for 150 Fort Lee folks - will receive a T-shirt, water bottle and one punch on his or her activity card. A sign-up sheet is available at the Warrior Zone.

Walk 2 Fitness is another FMWR program offered through the sports office. One-hour walking sessions are held for beginner and intermediate groups. The beginners meet at Clark Fitness Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8-9 a.m. Participants walk 1-3 miles at a low to moderate pace. The intermediate group meets at Battlefield Park (corner of A and Mahone) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 8-9 a.m. Participants walk 3-6 miles at a moderate to fast pace.

Varied exercise and fitness classes are available through FMWR.

Currently very popular are Zumba classes held Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 p.m., at MacLaughlin Fitness Center, said Kerver. Zumba fuses hypnotic Latin rhythms, dance moves and aerobic fitness routines. It averages 65 participants per class, and there is room for more students.

For a description of all classes, their schedules and fees, visit and check out "Classes" under MacLaughlin and Clark Fitness Centers.