NORFOLK, VA -- Naval Station Norfolk’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) committee introduced their newest trainers, Waterfront Fitness Specialists Jodie Byrkett and Susan Lowry, at an open house in late January. Representatives from gyms on Naval Station Norfolk also spoke at the open house about opportunities for sailors who are seeking to improve their fitness and motivation to get in shape.

“What we’re doing is bringing activities to pier-side ships,” says Byrkett. “We want to work with them to bring fitness activities to the fleet by offering fitness instruction, fitness training and fitness enhancement program guidance.”


The new specialists will help bridge the gap between fitness on shore and at sea. New fitness equipment, offered by Naval Station Norfolk’s MWR, will also help.

“I think the equipment is going to be key once we get onboard and go out to sea because we’re not going to have the space to do a lot of the workouts we’re used to doing right now,” says Personnel Specialist 1st Class Paula Ryel, a fitness coordinator onboard the pre-commissioned nuclear aircraft carrier George HW Bush. “We saw a lot of great tools at the open house. We would love to have those once we commission and get on the ship. Having a fit crew is important to keep the ship functioning. It’s just as important when we’re underway as when we’re sitting at shore to keep that level of fitness up.”

While awaiting the new carrier's commissioning, the fitness coordinators onboard Bush arrange command physical training outside the ship’s walls in the evenings after working hours.

Representatives from amphibious transport dock ship Iwo Jima’s MWR were also quick to take advantage of the new equipment.

“We repair our equipment on a daily basis underway,” says Fire Controllman 2nd Class Andrea McClellan, president of MWR onboard Iwo Jima. “It’s so heavily used. As soon as one person gets off, somebody else gets on.”

Staff at Naval Station Norfolk’s MWR have high hopes for the future.

“I think this is a great way to look at the gaps between shore and ships,” Byrkett says. “I think that there is a need out there for what we are doing, and I think it’s going to be pretty successful.”