In 2006 the Air Force and Navy is expecting more of the same.

Funding demands such as the war in Iraq and recovering from natural disasters have left budgets tight; yet, both services say fitness centers and programming will continue to do their job — keeping our military fit.

“You always want more, but in most situations you have enough dollars to do what's required,” says Kelly Powell, head of Navy Morale, Welfare and Recreation's (MWR) Mission Essential Branch, regarding funding. “If you get more, you do more. If you get less, you're more cognizant of what you do.”

Because funding is based on Congressional appropriations, and much funding is dedicated to more pressing items such as weapons and other items relating to the basic mission, fitness doesn't always rank at the top. And quite correctly, so, says Powell.

“With limited dollars you don't get everything you want. We don't want [facilities] to be gold-plated, but we do want them to compare to a civilian center,” he says.

However, the war has heightened the Navy's awareness of how important fitness is to its sailors. With that in mind, Navy MWR is launching a program titled, “Stay Healthy, Stay Fit, Stay Navy.” A more holistic approach to health, the program hopes to encourage healthy lifestyle changes such as moving more, eating better and reducing stress, which can be high due to deployment or simply the demands of the job.

“We want to give people the opportunity to practice healthy lifestyles and help them carve out protective time so that they're being supported by Navy, their family and their community,” he says.

The Air Force expects funding to decrease in 2006 for fitness, and some facilities may need to reduce their fitness or sports programs to stay within budget. Others, however, may decide to add yoga and Pilates to stay competitive with off-base facilities, says Margaret Treland, Air Force fitness program manager.

Although natural disasters have affected the cost of construction, the Air Force has two projects planned: Charleston Air Force Base is adding and renovating spaces to better meet the needs of its programs and customers, and Vandenberg Air Force Base is adding a new facility to provide space for fitness and sports activities.

“Air Force fitness centers and staffs will continue to provide assistance to units and individuals in developing both group and personal training programs,” Treland says.