By Maj. Matthew Boyle | North Carolina National GuardJanuary 28, 2019
BUTNER, N.C. -- Twenty-two Soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard are volunteering to participate in Fit to Serve, a six-month program that supports overall health and wellness by providing nutrition training, resiliency training and teaching a movement restoration system, at the Camp Butner Training Center in Butner, North Carolina, on Jan. 24.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted from 2015 to 2016, 71.6% of Americans over the age of 20 are overweight. The North Carolina National Guard Operations and Training Office set out to find a way to work with personnel struggling with health and wellness.
"Our program is a total mind and body approach to wellness," said Sgt. Maj. Jason Stewart, Operations and Training Resource Manager, who is part of the team that created the Fit to Serve program. "It begins with a one-week in-resident phase where we teach nutrition, resiliency and functional movement, then our participants are placed in small groups where they work with one of our fitness coaches over a six-month period."
The Fit to Serve program has contracted with the Original Strength Institute (OSI) to teach basic body movements, flexibility and breathing techniques that have been found to be effective in helping people lose weight, increase range of motion and reach individual potential.
The Fit to Serve trainers are NCNG members who hold an Army Master Fitness Trainer certificate and are OSI-certified coaches who are working to become OSI professional instructors. The goal of Fit to Serve is to create enough OSI professional instructors to be able to self-sustain the program and create a mobile fitness lab that company commanders could request to be used at the unit level.
The Soldiers who volunteer to participate in Fit to Serve are required to bring a food diary of what they ate for five days before the program began. With this food log, a trained nutrition specialist reviews their eating habits and can begin to develop a dietary plan for the next six months.
As part of the program, the participants go to a grocery store and learn how to shop for healthy products, including how to read the nutritional labels on foods and how to reduce the amount of processed ingredients.
"When they leave here, they have to have a plan. Nutrition is the most important part of wellness and fitness," said retired Master Sgt. Robert Wheeler, the master fitness coordinator, operations and training office, NCNG.
During the program, Soldiers meet with their trainers in small groups once a month to work out, review nutrition or just to talk about progress or possible problems. On the second and fourth month they are given a practice fitness test and after six months they take an official Army Physical Fitness Test.
Mark Shropshire, owner of Shropshire Sports Training in Columbia, Maryland, is working with Fit to Serve program, teaching and demonstrating functional fitness. He is also a former Army combat engineer and OSI professional instructor.
"Today we are learning how to press reset on the central nervous system, once we can get the body to move the way it was designed to move, we can then build a foundation," said Shropshire. "The Fit to Serve program hopes that with functional fitness and nutrition that the participants will be able to not only pass the fitness test but have the skills to maintain active healthy lifestyles."