DISA-Europe celebrates employee wellness

A healthy employee is a productive employee: This was the message delivered by Defense Information Systems Agency-Europe Commander Col. Elizabeth Bierden as she kicked off the fourth annual DISA-Europe Wellness Day on Feb. 11 in the Patch Fitness Center. 

“I am thrilled with the enthusiasm of the DISA-Europe employees and their willingness to be open to new information and fitness routines,” Bierden said.
This year, DISA-Europe partnered with the Army Wellness Center Stuttgart and conducted a unit fitness assessment for more than 55 military and civilian personnel. The purpose of the fitness assessment was to provide employees with a picture of their overall fitness and motivate them to establish reasonable fitness goals. 

“It’s important for units to conduct unit-level fitness tests to help motivate and educate individuals about the ongoing obesity trends in the U.S. and help them fight against becoming sedentary,” said Rich Hoke, Wellness Center director.

The morning began with employee blood pressure screenings and body composition profiles, followed by a one-mile timed walk, and concluded with grip strength and flexibility tests.

At the end of the assessment, Hoke briefed the unit on their overall fitness and provided each employee with an individual assessment.
“Today made me realize I lead a sedentary lifestyle and need to lose 20 pounds,” said Greg Brooks, a DISA-Europe employee.  

Porter Balanza, another DISA-Europe employee, is also an advocate for annual wellness days. At the 2009 DISA-Europe Wellness Day, he discovered his blood pressure was high, which was an eye-opening experience for him.

“I made some changes with my diet and exercise routine, and by the 2010 wellness day, I had lost around 12 pounds and significantly reduced my blood pressure. I’m still maintaining it up to this day,” he said.

After the assessment, employees broke into groups for fitness sessions. They were introduced to a variety of classes and services offered at the Patch Fitness Center. While some employees sampled classes such as spinning, cross fit, and yoga, others opted to play Ultimate Frisbee and Wallyball.   

Roger Carpenter, DISA-Europe deputy commander, is one of the command’s most outspoken advocates of ensuring that DISA- Europe employees have a well-balanced approach to health and work.

“I believe fitness and well-being make for a happy workforce,” Carpenter said. “Today was a good reminder that everyone can make exercise fit into their busy day through small, everyday activities.”

DISA-Europe employees went home with a better awareness of how to live a healthy lifestyle and the potential risks surrounding an unhealthy one. The following Monday, employees were sharing how sore the Cross Fit class made them. Others shared nutritional goals, such as cutting back on rich European foods that are so readily available.

“I think a lot of people were surprised at their results,” said Command Master Chief James Barnes, who works out twice a week with DISA-Europe military personnel.
“Now, everyone has a goal to improve their overall fitness before next year’s wellness day,” he added.