FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (May 29, 2018) -- May was Strong B.A.N.D.S. (Balance, Activity, Nutrition, Determination, and Strength) month and Fort Leonard Wood held "Strong Weekend," May 26-27 as part of its ongoing effort to motivate Army Soldiers, families, retirees and civilians to get and stay fit.

During Strong Weekend, Davidson Fitness Center offered group fitness classes to appeal to many interests. Classes included Zumba, Ripped, Aqua Zumba, Body Bootcamp, Les Mills Body Pump, Beginner Vinyasa Flow Yoga, and Indoor Cycling.

Karen Robinson, who is a recreation aid through Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation at Fort Leonard Wood's Davidson Fitness Center, said the main point of the event "is just to get in and try."

Robinson personally knows the value of having access to health and wellness activities on a military installation.

"When we arrived at Fort Leonard Wood five years ago, I didn't know what I was going to do in Missouri."

It was Robinson's husband who encouraged her to go to the gym.

"I never worked out," she said. "The classes are what brought me in here. So, what started as working out one day a week turned into six days a week."

"It's not just a workout, it's an atmosphere," Robinson added. "This is like a second home. I get to meet wonderful people from all around the world."

"We are very fortunate to have good instructors," she added.

Ina Keazer De Aponte, instructor, who has been teaching MWR fitness classes at Fort Leonard Wood for the last four years, talked about the importance of fitness and programs like Strong B.A.N.D.S.

"It is important to take care of our body, and the older you get, the better your eating habits need to be," she said. "You need to be working out."

"Our body is like our house, so we need to take care of our house regardless of how old we are."

She added, "People make excuses to themselves, because they feel they are too old, but to me age is just a number. Anybody can do anything they want."

Keazer De Aponte, who puts high energy into her classes, whether there is one student or more, said she knows great athletes of all ages.

"Everything is possible," she said.

Patrons say they enjoy taking classes at Davidson Fitness Center year-round.

"I come in all the time," Noris Edington, who was taking "Ripped," a cardio, weight training, and mixed martial arts class, May 26 during Strong Weekend, said. "I take all the classes over here."

It is not uncommon to meet patrons who have been participating in MWR group fitness classes for quite a while.

"I have been taking body pump and spin classes for 9 years," Pam Collins said. "This is the first time with Ripped and I really liked it. It was fun. There is a lot of energy. You can tell there are a lot of people who have been coming for a while and they really enjoy it, so you get a lot of energy from other people."

Those who attended classes during Strong B.A.N.D.S. weekend received a T-shirt and wristbands.

Other Strong B.A.N.D.S. activities held during the month were Yoga in the Park, May 5; Run to Honor & Kid's Half Miler, May 12; and Aqua Zumba, May 19.

For more information MWR events and activities at Fort Leonard Wood, visit https://leonardwood.armymwr.com/.