USO Schwab hosts virtual fitness challenge series, engaging 300 participants

USO Schwab hosts virtual fitness challenge series, engaging 300 participants

by Bridgette Sanchez
USO Schwab Center Manager

Camp Schwab, OKINAWA, Japan. In a world full of uncertainty, the USO saw the need for motivation, encouragement, and activity. The staff created a series of virtual fitness challenges that continued monthly. COVID-19 restricted many from receiving the daily normal activity they were used to. Starting in August, USO Schwab challenged its patrons to run, bike, or swim 100 miles in 1 month, other fitness challenges followed each month.  

The Gasser family jumped at this opportunity. Chris, father, Marissa, mother, and Marciana, 13-year-old daughter, all participated in the first challenge.  

“We saw an opportunity to create a challenge within our family and we were inspired by the USO challenge,” Marissa Gasser, said. “With all the COVID restrictions out there, this not only opened a window for relief, but we were able to stay active, compete with each other, and have fun!”

For 30 days, 300+ patrons committed to staying active and boosting each other to keep pushing forward. For Marissa and many of the USO patrons, this was their first virtual challenge.

“Physical fitness is a part of our daily lives to stay healthy,” Gasser said. “Throughout this challenge, we could make it fun, see one another’s results, and try to exceed it the next time.  We also enjoyed seeing everyone else’s posts, which pushed us to keep going. With COVID being a part of our new norm, we have to find ways to feel like we are making accomplishments.” 

While the USO Schwab was required to close temporarily due to COVID restrictions, finding ways to motivate and encourage service members on the northern camp was essential to the staff.

“It was magnificent to see the growth of the group,” Bridgette Sanchez, USO Schwab Center Manager, said. “During COVID, USO Schwab loved connecting with patrons with our virtual cooking shows but having a fitness challenge has always been a goal of mine. I was so pleased to get such a great response and be able to meet so many energetic delightful people!”

USO Schwab opened its doors again and virtual programming is now an intergal part of the services the staff provides. Each week troop movement requires new arrivals to spend time in their barracks due to restrictions of movement. USO challenges, competitions, and virtual engagement opportunities grow in popularity each week.

“We could not be prouder that we achieved a way to spread our mission and commitment that has continued month after month,” Sanchez said.

Since August, Okinawa’s northern bases continued the challenge for all who want to join the fun. USO Hansen kept the activity going with September’s 1000 Burpees in 30 days. Everyone has a love-hate relationship with burpees, but our challenge warriors were ready! USO Schwab introduced Squatober, that’s right a challenge of squats and lunges. The challenge was to complete 3100 squats and lunges in October. Our fitness group has continued to grow and inspire many to challenge their ability to stay active. November brings a new program, Trot for Troops, A virtual 5K on November 26-28. All month long, participants are training to achieve the best times they can get when running a 5K. Sign up information can be found on USO Facebook pages.

“We are not stopping here! December will bring goals to ring in the new year with motivation and positivity,” Sanchez said.

For more information about USO events, click Okinawa.USO.Org or find a center on Facebook. You can also visit one of the six USO centers today: USO Schwab, USO Hansen, USO Kadena, USO Camp Foster, USO Futenma, and USO Kinser.
















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