US Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center

Be better than you were last year with the Commander’s Challenge

Huntsville Center
Published March 4, 2019
Robert Jackson, mechanical engineer and chairperson of Huntsville Center’s Wellness Committee, targets his trapezius muscles during a workout in the Center’s newly opened gym.

Robert Jackson, mechanical engineer and chairperson of Huntsville Center’s Wellness Committee, uses the seated row machine in the Center’s newly opened gym March 1, 2019.

Robert Jackson, mechanical engineer and chairperson of Huntsville Center’s Wellness Committee, gets a morning workout on the battle ropes in the Center’s newly opened gym.

Robert Jackson, mechanical engineer and chairperson of Huntsville Center’s Wellness Committee, gets a morning workout on the battle ropes in the Center’s newly opened gym March 1, 2019.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (March 4, 2019) – Despite an unusually busy start to 2019 for Huntsville Center, Season 3 of the Commander’s Challenge is off and running.

 

“This program is my challenge to you to take a moment, figure out what you can do to improve your health and overall wellness, and make a change or two to improve your quality of life,” said Col. John Hurley, Huntsville Center commander. “The goal is completely personal; it’s what you need.”

 

Hurley encourages participants to keep goals simple, achievable and tailored for their own needs and schedules.

 

One person’s goal might be to get better sleep or cut a few pounds, Hurley said, whereas another person may want to get back into the habit of regular exercise or work on cultivating better nutritional habits. Or someone might set a “negative” goal, such as cutting back on salt or quitting tobacco.

 

If you have an electronic activity tracker, maybe your goal is to get 10,000 steps a day.

 

Regardless of your goal, Hurley recommends getting an accountability partner.

 

“I am not talking about a personal trainer,” Hurley advised the workforce in an email. “I am talking about someone that will ask, ‘How many steps have you taken today?’ ‘Get up and walk around,’ or, ‘Isn't that your eighth donut today?’”

 

Robert Jackson, mechanical engineer and chairperson of Huntsville Center’s Wellness Committee, recommends tracking your goals, whatever they may be. Seeing one’s progress can be a strong motivator and can serve as an intangible reward.

 

“Some people want to track just their weight loss, or their running or their weightlifting or their diet, and some people want to track it all,” said Jackson. “It really depends on what your goals are and what you want to get out of it.

 

“A good approach is to just be better than you were last year,” Jackson added. “If you know you faded out or ‘fell off the wagon’ at a certain point last year, make up in your mind that you will push past that point this year.”

 

A big hurdle at the start of this year’s challenge was the move from 4820 University Square to 475 Quality Circle, which redirected the time, attention and energy of many employees.

 

Another hurdle has been the lack of gym access for the past two months. The gym at the University Square location was closed ahead of the move, while the new gym required safety modifications before it could be opened.

 

Now that Huntsville Center has cleared these hurdles, thinking of excuses not to participate might be more difficult.

 

Nevertheless, though going to the gym can help participants achieve their health and fitness goals, doing so isn’t a prerequisite of the Commander’s Challenge.

 

“Our gym is a great resource for employees, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of it,” said Hurley. “That said, going to the gym has never been a requirement for the Commander’s Challenge.”

 

One tool that wasn’t available last year is the Redstone Arsenal Center for Comprehensive Wellness, which is open to civilian federal employees. Services include health and wellness assessments, stress management advice, tobacco cessation education, and physical fitness and nutrition guidance. To schedule an appointment at the center, which is located inside Fox Army Health Center, call 256-955-8888, extension 1440-1026.

 

“Whatever your focus is,” Jackson added, “the good thing about the Commander’s Challenge is that it’s meant to promote good health, better-quality sleep and good nutrition. It’s not a weight-loss program or a contest.”

 

Though the challenge may not be a competition, the Wellness Committee is planning to incorporate some just-for-fun fitness events like a push-up contest – as it did in seasons 1 and 2. And once again, all events will be strictly voluntary.

 

No matter what your plan is, Jackson recommends not being too hard on yourself if you get sidetracked.

 

“If you miss a few days because you’re out on TDY or on leave, don't try to make up for lost time all in one workout when you get back into the gym,” Jackson said. “Just take it easy and pick up where you left off.”