An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

A Day In The Life of a Fitness Center Airman

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
 Editor's note: "A Day in the Life of a ..." is part of a 10-week series which focuses on some of Pope's various career fields and offers a first-hand perspective to the readers. 

As military members, physical training is a regular part of our lives. In light of that fact, I wanted to spend the day with the people whose job it is to incorporate this fitness lifestyle to the rest of the base populace. 

When I arrived at the Pope Fitness Center, I was greeted by Senior Airman Ryan Collins, who was working the front desk. Since my arrival was during peak fitness hours, I waited while he tended to the requests and needs of the center's patrons. 

Airman Collins explained to me that their squadron took its fitness requirements very seriously and to properly accommodate everybody's diverse work schedules, there are nine sessions a week, of which everyone is responsible to attend three. 

I walked back to the racquetball courts and saw Tech. Sgt. Terrence Bessellieu, one of the 43rd Force Support Squadron's physical training leaders, finishing a PT session with some stretches. Everyone looked tired from their session and relieved to be done. I spent some time with Sergeant Bessellieu after the session ended, and he described to me the various fitness routines they perform during these sessions. In my opinion, the most interesting session he described is "burn your buddy." The idea is while "your buddy" is running a lap around the track, you are doing push-ups or sit-ups the entire lap time. The goal is to try to run the lap faster than your buddy because you keep switching off. It was comforting to know that the people who are involved in all of the day-to-day aspects of the fitness center take fitness very seriously themselves. 

While the others were getting showered and dressed after PT, I talked to Master Sgt. Roy King, the fitness center's section chief. Sergeant King had just participated in the Air Force Marathon on Sept. 20 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He said he is taking a few weeks to allow his body to recuperate before he begins training for another marathon. I was very impressed with his discipline and work ethic; it seemed to me that he was the perfect person to be in charge of the fitness center. 

Sergeant King explained to me there were three main sections of the fitness center. The first section is Operations. This section is led by Tech. Sgt. Daren McWilliams, operational functional manager. Operations deals with all the duties that keep the fitness center open and running smoothly. Sergeant McWilliams ensures items get repaired, signs get changed, the facility is clean, machines and equipment are functioning, work schedules are in order, etc. 

I realized how much effort it took from everyone to keep the fitness center running like the well-oiled machine it seems to be. All the fitness center workers help with operations, even if their primary duties are to another section, because it requires the most manpower. This point was evidenced by the fact that every time I would talk to someone, I would see the other workers busily cleaning the windows, sweeping under the bleachers, taking out the trash or washing the dirty laundry. 

The second section is Sports. This section is led by Tech. Sgt. Brian Charney, sports functional manager who oversees the various sports programs. Currently he is working on intramural football for the base squadrons. Throughout the year, the fitness center offers various sports intramurals such as volleyball, basketball, softball, football and soccer. Sergeant Charney also acts as a liaison for those who wish to compete at higher levels of sports, such as Air Force teams, etc. 

The third section is Fitness. This section is led by Sergeant Bessellieu, the fitness center functional manager. He helps oversee the various fitness programs offered to members of Pope. He is currently working on their "Fall into Fitness" program, which begins Monday and goes through Nov. 13. The program is designed to get people into exercising in order to increase their endurance, strength and flexibility. It offers incentives in the way of free giveaways. For example, if you take 15 aerobic sessions in 30 days, you receive a free water bottle. The next giveaway offered, depending on the amount of session you take, is a T-shirt and the final giveaway is an Air Force tote bag. The fitness center also offers free fitness assessments to help individuals gauge where they stand as far as fitness is concerned and offers a battery of tests from strength to flexibility. Once a person figures out their fitness strengths and weakness, they are better equipped to choose an exercise regiment that works best for them. 

After getting the rundown of the importance of the different sections, I followed Sergeant Bessellieu, who was busy getting stuff together for the Oct. 3 Oct-SOBER-fest 5K run. He went to the storage room to get the wrist bands which were used to determine different age categories for the runners. He also brought out the big digital clock which is used during runs, to be charged. It struck me at that moment how much I take for granted at these type of events. I usually just attend these functions without giving much thought into all the tireless efforts it takes to put them together. I made a mental note to myself to give more thought to the behind-the-scenes workers and try to express my gratitude to them more often. Sergeant Bessellieu proved to be a good subject to follow. He seemed to stay constantly busy with some sort of project. 

After lunch, I helped Senior Airman Jacklyn Hawkins get chairs for the staff meeting. I had met Airman Hawkins before when she was selected for "Wingman of the Week." On several occasions since then, whenever I would encounter Airman Hawkins, she was always extremely warm and welcoming. As I was able to spend time with her throughout the day, I couldn't help being so impressed by her attitude and performance. She has gone through tough times, as we all have, but she does not ever let it ruin her attitude or determine her treatment of others. Her positive spirit really caught my attention. She said that before coming to Pope, she worried about who her supervisor would be due to a previous experience, so she prayed she would get a good one here. She praised Sergeant Bessellieu for being an encouragement and a good example to her. From what I had observed, I couldn't disagree with her. 

During staff meeting, Sergeant King brought up certain matters relating to volunteer opportunities, upcoming events, supplies needed for the 5K run, PT concerns, etc. I watched as these fitness center workers gathered in the intimate setting of their staff office. They all seemed to treat each other with respect and genuine friendship. I always enjoy observing the tight-knit atmosphere our Pope members create in their work environments. This career field seemed to be no different as everyone seemed to regard each other with a familial bond. 

After staff meeting, they had to walk over to the Kitty Hawk Dining Facility where Maj. Yancey Cowen was conducting a Commander's Call for the 43rd Force Support Squadron. It was nice to see many of these squadron members get recognized for their achievements and hard work. They also welcomed newcomers into the fold, and after Major Cowen reminded them all to stay safe, he took time to thank them for all of their great efforts. 

I walked back over to the fitness center after Commander's Call and met up with Sergeant Charney and Senior Airman Christian Pagan. They were looking in the shed for the field marker equipment. Intramural football begins Wednesday, and they were busy trying to get everything in order for the first game. Once again this reminded me of how easy it is to forget all the work that goes into the event. I got the impression that Sergeant Charney feels very passionately about the sports program. He said every year, he looks for ways he can improve it from the previous year. He said he has been in charge of sports for a while, so he joked that he is often competing against himself. Sergeant Charney expressed some of his upcoming ideas, which sounded really exciting to me, and I am not even a football fan. However, I promised not to share them just yet. 

I would invite all of you to check out some of the various programs the fitness center offers. These workers diligently search for new ideas in which to make Pope better for us. I think the least we can do is ask questions about some of these programs and try to get involved.