JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Getting fit to fight in the Air Force just became more convenient.
As part of an Air Force Services Transformation Initiative test concept, Joint Base Andrews, Md., was one of six installations to implement unmanned hours at their fitness center, making it accessible 24/7. Since February, there have been roughly 25,000 visits between the test bases and every aspect of the initiative is going well. Now with the test phase at these six bases nearing its end, the program is rolling out Air Force wide. "The purpose of the initiative is to boost morale and provide access to the gym for servicemembers who work unconventional shifts, such as security forces members," said 1st Lt. David Smith, the 11th Force Support Services Sustainment Flight officer in charge. Registration for the test bases has already begun for authorized users of the fitness center who are 18 years and older. Users must have a valid government identification card in to register. Dependents, 16-17 years old must register and be with their registered sponsor to enter.
One member who is taking advantage of this is Staff Sgt. Sean Matiasic, an 89th Aerial Port Squadron Air Transportation specialist. He works second shift and said it more convenient, as he prefers to work out after work. “I keep fit not because it’s my job, but because I like to be fit; I like to stay in shape and it’s a hobby,” he said. Daniel B. Ginsberg, the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs along with Rosemary Freitas Williams, The Office of the Secretary of Defense Military Communities and Family Policy director, approved the Services Transformation Initiative to test unsupervised fitness and sports center after-hours use. "Other test installations include Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; Scott AFB, Ill.; F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; and Little Rock AFB, Ark.," Smith said. With fitness centers now being available unstaffed after regularly staffed business hours, member's safety remains a top priority, said Col. Thomas Joyce, the Air Force Personnel Center Services director.
"Entry access and surveillance systems will provide patrons security and safety in their pursuit to get fit in off hours," Smith said. "Emergency equipment such as a defibrillator and first-aid kits will be readily available as well as phones with emergency number lists and clear procedures for fire department access." With safety measures in place, installation commanders will also conduct and document operational and risk management assessments, Joyce said. Additionally, each facility will have a number of motion-censored, recordable security cameras that are hooked up to a stand-alone computer in the fitness center staff office, Joyce added. This provides the staff and/or emergency personnel appropriate data in case of an incident. “We also have written standards in place for patrons to understand guidelines for unsupervised use of the facility,” Smith said. For shift workers like Matiasic, there is nothing more convenient than a 24-hour fitness center. “There are definitely less people here, which is nice. It’s pretty slow so you don’t have to wait for weights or to get on a machine,” he said.