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Go For Green: Pilot project looks to boost fleet fitness

S1 Maude Lafortune and Sgt Charles Stephen take a short break from their yoga class being taught by PSP fitness instructor Deva Carr at the Fleet gym in Halifax. Both work at Trinity, one of the three units taking part in the Go For Green pilot project.

Go For Green: Pilot project looks to boost fleet fitness

By Joanie Veitch,
Trident Staff

For most of us, the hardest part of getting fit is finding the motivation to get started. The second hardest part? Keeping it up when life and work get busy, because life and work inevitably will get busy.

But what if a regular fitness routine is part of your work schedule?

Three units at CFB Halifax are taking part in a pilot project that’s looking at how a targeted approach to physical fitness — with leadership support — can pay off in terms of the unit members’ overall health.

The project, Go For Green, is being run by Personnel Support Programs (PSP) Fitness and Sports in partnership with Health Promotion. Working with the members of each of the three units — Trinity, HMCS Margaret Brooke and Real Property Operations Group (RPOU) (Atlantic) — PSP staff are running fitness sessions three times a week, during each unit’s regular work schedule. There’s also an option for members to do make-up sessions or extra workouts on their own, recording them via an online tracker.

For Sergeant Charles Stephen, who’s served in the CAF for 24 years and works at Trinity, the chance to get back into a regular fitness routine couldn’t come fast enough. Up until a couple of years ago, Sgt Stephen ran three times a week and regularly cycled up to 30 kilometres or more. Staying fit had never been difficult for him.

“In 2018, I was in the best shape of my life. Then I took a posting up north and then we ran into COVID and, well, my fitness started to decrease pretty fast after that,” he said.

Now with two young children at home — a two-year-old and a five-year-old — and a partner who works shifts, taking time for a regular fitness routine is challenging. “I find it harder now to organize my time to fit it in, so having the structure of regular workouts when I’m at work is a huge benefit,” he said.

The idea for the Go for Green project grew from a fitness partnership with HMCS Charlottetown a few years back. Building on the success of that program, PSP Health Promotion staff conducted surveys and focus groups with military members at CFB Halifax and “overwhelmingly” the response was that people wanted to find ways to be more active, and to feel supported in their efforts, explained Joy Geizer, a health promotion specialist with PSP.

Taking guidance from the Maritime Forces Atlantic Active Living Injury Prevention working group, PSP staff from Reconditioning, Health Promotion and Fitness and Sports devised a progressive physical training program, tailoring the activities and schedule to fit the needs of each of the units in the project.

The participating units were chosen based on a number of factors, such as an organization’s overall fitness level — using pre-pandemic data from the FORCE test results for each unit — and if their schedule would allow participation throughout the year-long project.

“When you’re doing any kind of health and fitness program with the Navy, deployments always factor in,” Geizer said. “We wanted to structure it as a progressive program so we were aiming for a group who are at a lower fitness level — orange or yellow — and through a consistent and targeted approach move the entire unit into the green zone.”

Leading up to the September launch of the project, each of the three units were block FORCE tested and key health-related information was collected for baseline data that will be compared with data at the end of the project next summer.

Two months in, Sgt Stephen notes he’s already seeing positive results on both a personal and professional level from the project. Proper buy-in and participation from the Command Team, along with some fun incentives and rewards, are also adding to a strong start across the unit.

“This is a fantastic program, I hope it causes a chain reaction and gets more units involved in the future,” he said.