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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 256-98
May 22, 1998

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ANNOUNCES RESULTS OF SURVEY OF PHYSICAL FITNESS FACILITIES

As part of the "Operation Be Fit" initiative, the Department of Defense (DoD) recently released the results of a survey conducted of the status of physical fitness facilities on military installations. "Operation Be Fit" is the Defense Department's initiative designed to place renewed emphasis on the physical fitness of the entire military community. The survey canvassed 282 military installations and gathered data on 576 fitness centers. Past customer surveys show that Service members and their families and eligible DoD civilian employees consistently rate fitness centers as the top Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program in terms of importance and use.

The survey found that 47.5 percent of military installations have only one fitness center and thirty percent of installations, usually those with large populations, have two fitness centers. The survey indicated that while there is a wide variety in the size and configuration of facilities and in the fitness equipment and programs offered, the typical fitness center has: a cardiovascular equipment area, a weight-lifting room, sports courts, locker facilities for both men and women, and general purpose sports fields adjacent to the facility. The survey found that DoD-wide there are over 2,700 playing courts for ball sports such as tennis, basketball and squash. The variety of available fitness center activities included: batting cages, swimming pools, health and wellness centers, miniature golf courses, and roller blade and street hockey courts.

While 137 fitness centers were rated as "excellent," Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel Support, Families and Education Carolyn H. Becraft pointed out in congressional testimony that the survey also found that "about twenty-two percent of our fitness facilities are rated in 'poor' condition. In most cases, those facilities rated 'poor' were the main fitness facilities on the installation, and often the only fitness facility on an installation."

Becraft also said: "The military Services recognized this facility problem even before the survey was done, and have been hard at work to improve the situation by performing renovations and repair and maintenance at some installations. Nonetheless, the Department still has a long way to go to provide quality facilities for this number one MWR program."

The goals of "Operation Be Fit" are to improve and expand program opportunities in fitness, sports and recreation activities that involve physical activity and to increase individual participation in physical activities throughout the military community. Ultimately, "Operation Be Fit" is designed to establish the Department of Defense as the nation's model in promoting physical fitness among employees and their families.

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