PORTSMOUTH, VA -- The ninth annual Crews Into Shape challenge, sponsored by the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center (NMCPHC), is running from March 1-28 this year.

The team-oriented challenge is designed to improve participants' fitness and nutrition habits.

Participating teams can be made up of two to 10 people who earn points by exercising regularly, eating fruits and vegetables, and drinking healthy fluids.

The idea behind working in teams is to provide people with partners to help them stay motivated.

"The idea of Crews is to appeal to people's sense of competitiveness and their spirit of fun," says Bob MacDonald, the Crews Into Shape coordinator at NMCPHC. "Crews Into Shape is more of a group effort, and there is power in that."

In addition to learning healthy habits and losing weight, top scoring teams win T-shirts.

Every year, Crews Into Shape attracts between 2,500 and 3,500 participants.

"Most people say it was fun; they enjoyed the team aspects," MacDonald says. "A lot of people wish we could do this every six months."

Crews Into Shape is open to all branches of service, Department of Defense civilians and contractors, as well as family members.