NORFOLK, VA -- A working group from the Navy’s Personal and Family Readiness Program (PFRP) visited USS George Washington (GW) in late June for a briefing on the command’s fitness program and to evaluate the fitness resources on an aircraft carrier.

“This group is working to implement and improve the programs that impact physical wellness,” said Lt. Jacqueline Pollock, GW’s special assistant for fitness. “They were on board to hear how we ran our programs and what resources are available to sailors on an operational asset.”

The group heard about the command’s fitness program as it relates to the physical fitness assessment (PFA), body composition assessment (BCA) and fitness enhancement program (FEP). Pollock explained to the group the procedures used to ensure accurate measurements and testing procedures. Pollock also told the group about GW’s more than 50 fitness classes held aboard the ship and many other initiatives when it comes to wellness, such as healthier choices in the galleys, stores and vending machines.

“We wanted to show them the resources we use in our program and show that we are serious about fitness, but more importantly, we care about the sailors' well-being,” said Pollock. “We talked about our policies and procedures and were able to share with them our secrets of our success that we hope they will take with them and share with the fleet.”

GW’s fitness program has shown improvement over the last two years. Since 2004, PFA failures are down more than 75 percent and BCA failures have fallen by approximately 50 percent. Pollock is most proud of another number.

“In the last two years, we have had about 450 sailors who needed to pass the PFA or the BCA or risk being separated from the Navy,” Pollock explained. “The GW fitness team has been able to save two-thirds of those sailors, and allowed them to continue on their career. I think that is awesome.”

The group was impressed with all the resources GW has for sailors to use when it comes to healthy choices and fitness options. But the key to GW’s success, according to Pollock, is leadership. She said the culture of fitness aboard GW starts with the commanding officer, Capt. Garry White, and is supported by every level of the chain of command in every department on the ship.

"USS George Washington demonstrates daily that leadership focus on fitness will create a culture of fitness,” said Barnett. “At all levels, leadership is the first and essential ingredient. We will take GW's successes, and those of other commands, back to see how we can institute this culture across the Navy. In addition to leadership at the command and master chief level, we need to make sure that [the Navy] is providing the tools that leaders need to make the culture of fitness a reality."

The group included Rear Adm. Jamie Barnett, director of the Naval Education and Training Division on the staff of the Chief of Naval Personnel, and representatives from the Navy Bureau of Medicine, Bureau of Personnel, U.S. 2nd Fleet and IBM.