USS GEORGE WASHINGTON — USS George Washington (GW) completed its 2006 spring cycle for the physical readiness test (PRT) March 30, and the results showed improvement. Out of the 2,600 sailors tested, there were 100 fewer failures this cycle compared with the fall 2005 cycle, said Lt. Jacqueline Pollock, head of fitness at GW. Additionally, the command computed more than 2,900 body composition assessments (BCA), marking a 50 percent decrease in BCA failures from the previous cycle.

“Everyone talks about numbers, and obviously they are a great way to test and assess a sailor's fitness, but GW sailors know that being fit is more than that,” said Pollock. “Of course, we want everyone to pass the PRT, but more than that, we want to give them every opportunity to better themselves.”

Pollock said GW takes an aggressive approach to fitness and is committed to the wellness of sailors. GW offers a variety of exercise classes, as well as courses in topics like nutrition, life skills and smoking cessation to give sailors the tools they need to have a healthier lifestyle.

“On board GW, we try and come up creative ways to make fitness fun for the crew,” she said. “We offer sailors a variety of exercise classes, food choices and educational programs aimed at helping the crew. And whatever we do, we want to make sure it is something they enjoy and keeps them motivated.”

GW sailors take advantage of the programs aboard the ship, especially the more than 50 group exercise classes that take place while the ship is underway.

According to the log for the first week of March, more than 800 sailors attended classes, and Pollock estimated more than 200 sailors attended who were not required to sign the log. Many more sailors attend nutrition classes, and Pollock and the ship's medical team also provide individual counseling and courtesy weigh-ins for the entire crew.

“You have more energy when you work out,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Monique Rodriquez, who is an exercise leader and Ship Shape instructor. “Therefore, if you increase your fitness level, you are going to be more productive at work.”

Rodriquez, a command fitness leader for five years, reported to GW in September 2005 and immediately noticed the culture of fitness.

“There were many programs in place, and you could see sailors motivated to improve,” she said. “Since I have been here, it has been growing. You can see classes during the day with hundreds of people almost filling an entire hangar bay. It is impressive, and the crew is enthusiastic about it. It is not just a trend; people are changing their lifestyles.”

The ship will start another “The Biggest Loser” competition soon. Similar to the popular reality television show, teams of five compete to see who loses the most weight overall. For the second installment, sailors who failed the BCA are being encouraged to participate on teams with fitness mentors. Other contests include an Ironman competition and more running events.