Dee Benson wants you to have a life of longevity filled with great physical and spiritual health.
Each Monday and Thursday, here at Huntsville Center, she helps willing coworkers to achieve those goals. Benson, Business Practices Chief in the Business Management Office, leads a lunch time class from 12:30 -1:15 p.m. in the fitness center designed to improve an individual’s physical health.
Improving one’s physical state is a key step to wellness for the whole of who we are, according to Benson.
“Being well means everyone benefits – yourself, your family, friends, employer and co-workers.” Benson said. “You have a closer connection on a spiritual side. Being well in your physical body means everything else can improve.”
Benson says she was inspired to conduct her fitness class after the announcement of the Commander’s Fitness Challenge in January.
Col. John Hurley, commander Huntsville Center, challenged employees to participate in an organized effort to set fitness goals, track their progress and share their results this spring.
Several employees stepped up to lead fitness classes on site to assist coworkers in achieving those goals, Benson among them.
“As an individual, I have a passion for wellness and people,” Benson said. “As I approach my journey as a federal employee, I’m also approaching my journey in wellness.”
Sharing that journey is fueled, in part, by her own personal experiences.
“Your journey is longer if you allow it to be,” Benson said. “In my life, people very close to me have passed away when very small changes in their lives could have led them to a longer life.”
Soft-spoken, Benson’s quiet demeanor and dignified countenance belies the assertive coach she becomes during her classes.
Amanda Sticker, a Department of the Army intern and student in Benson’s fitness sessions, credits her instructor’s vocal encouragement with her strides toward improved wellness.
“She pushes you by motivating and making you ask yourself if you are truly tired or are you quitting on yourself,” Sticker said. “I tend to skip my workout if I don’t have someone to push me or if I am not being held accountable.”
In one recent class, Benson eyed Sticker selecting dumbbell weights she felt were too light for her student. Benson went to the weight rack, picked up a heavier set, gave them to Sticker and challenged her to push herself.
Holding her students accountable is a standard Benson said she has always set for herself.
A track athlete in high school, Benson says she has always made time for exercise.
“In my own life, I have been what I call a fitness dabbler,” Benson said. “I’ve done step aerobics, jazzercise and track in high school. I fell into distance running in the mid ‘90s and it provided for good cardio and weight control.”
Preaching self-discipline and commitment to fitness is not a “do as I say” proposition.
Once, during a week that would end with business travel, Benson realized she would miss out on her scheduled fitness training with her own instructor. The day before leaving Benson tried to no avail to convince her personal coach to let her do her intense program that morning and come back again to repeat the effort in the afternoon.
She laughs looking back, but said she still found time to work out and walk long distances while on the road.
Benson’s enthusiasm for wellness is infectious and the physical benefits come quickly.
“Dee (Benson) makes me stick with it,” Sticker said. “It’s too easy to say to yourself I’m busy during the lunch break, but since I’ve been going to Dee’s class I have more energy. I’ve also noticed my arms are beginning to have more definition again, and my legs are getting stronger.”
Benson enumerates her principles for fitness as follows:
Becoming the better you is a journey Benson helps her fellow coworkers traverse every Monday and Thursday from 12:30 -1:15 p.m.
Benson uses this quote to encourage herself and others to start and continue their wellness journey, “Strive for progress, not perfection.”....Anonymous. She would very much like to see you there.