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Gym continues to improve with new equipment

Senior Master Sgt. Chuck Muscato uses the leg press in the base gym. The leg press is just one of many new pieces of weight equipment at the gym now.

Senior Master Sgt. Chuck Muscato uses the leg press in the base gym. The leg press is just one of many new pieces of weight equipment at the gym now. (Photo by Master Sgt. Christine Wood)

Senior Master Sgt. Brian Alix uses one of the new treadmills in the base gym. The 109th Services Flight bought brand-new equipment for the entire gym recently.

Senior Master Sgt. Brian Alix uses one of the new treadmills in the base gym. The 109th Services Flight bought brand-new equipment for the entire gym recently. (Photo by Master Sgt. Christine Wood)

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Throughout the years, the 109th Services Flight has made multiple efforts to bring the base gym up to everyone's satisfaction, from new floors and murals on the walls, to most recently, brand new equipment.

The gym started out with practically nothing years ago, but thanks to the Scotia MWR facility and the National Guard Bureau, the wing was able to receive donated gym equipment to get things going.

Last year, numerous Airmen from different sections came to the gym to volunteer to help lay down brand new floor, which Chief Morris said was a huge improvement.

If you haven't made it to the gym in awhile, you may not be aware of all the new equipment. In January, new weight equipment arrived and about a month prior, all the treadmills, elliptical trainers and bikes were swapped out for brand-new ones.

"This year we were extremely fortunate to be awarded $75,000 total of unfunded money," said Chief Master Sgt. Deb Morris, 109th SVF chief. "We would buy in such a volume of equipment that we got some incredible deals. We're virtually almost going to end up with a brand-new gym by the time we get done."

Chief Morris said with the improvements to the gym, she has seen an increase in people using the facility.

"There's been a huge increase since the new equipment arrived," she said. "I've had nothing but positive feedback. People have told me that they've dropped outside gym memberships and are exclusively using our gym equipment." According to the sign-in sheets, the gym averages about 150 people a month.

Chief Morris compares the base gym to those you would find at an active-duty Air Force base.

"In the last three years, Services has the primary role of overseeing our current fitness program. And because we've had the equipment, it mirrors the active Air Force," she said. "Everyone from inspectors to people just visiting the base are blown away by what we have for facilities. When you look at the number of customers we have, it's obviously appreciated."

But all the improvements to the gym couldn't have been done without the people on base who have volunteered their time and the support from the wing leaders.

"I'm so grateful to our wing commander and command staff for all of their support," Chief Morris said.

A lot of assistance has been needed for cleanup and moving equipment, and Chief Morris thanks supervisors for letting their people come out and help.

There's also been a few people on base who have gone above and beyond to get the gym looking good. Staff Sgt. Michael Aversano, of the 109th Maintenance Group, personally came up and repaired several pieces of equipment, saving the base money from having to hire an outside contractor. Tech. Sgt. Jackie Fritche, of the 109th Supply Section, has assisted with forklifting and moving gym equipment. Civil engineers have done multiple repairs, from fixing the furnace, to replacing windows.

"All the MWR committee members get credit because they're the ones who have pushed extra equipment and made things happen," Chief Morris said.

"Everybody benefits from the gym," she said. "Even our tenant units use our gym. We accommodate the 109th but also support any tenant on base."

To help keep the gym in excellent condition, people need to remember to do their part in taking care of the equipment.

"An ongoing struggle is people need to be gym-savvy, meaning that when you're done with a piece of equipment, clean it down, bring a change of shoes so you're not bringing in extra dirt or salt in the wintertime; that's what's really tough on the equipment," she said.

Chief Morris said the gym improvements are part of a five-year plan, and people can expect even more improvements in the future.

"We have an open door policy; if someone has suggestions on what they would like to see, they can pick up the phone to contact us or participate in our MWR meeting," Chief Morris said.

MWR meetings are held every Saturday of the UTA.