By Susan A. Merkner, IMCOM Public AffairsMay 3, 2019
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, FORT SAM HOUSTON, TEXAS ─ "Reach Your Peak" is the theme for the U.S. Army's ninth annual STRONG B.A.N.D.S. campaign in May, emphasizing physical health and well-being as vital components of readiness and resiliency.
Seventy-seven Army garrisons and locations will hold STRONG B.A.N.D.S. (Balance, Activity, Nutrition, Determination, Strength) programs and activities that support health and physical fitness in May.
The Installation Management Command's G9 Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation's Army Sports, Fitness and Aquatics program is coordinating the 2019 campaign. The campaign is timed to coincide with National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
The program is open to all Soldiers, Family members, veterans, retirees and military civilian employees.
"I encourage everyone to get involved in STRONG B.A.N.D.S.," said Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Becker, IMCOM commanding general.
"Physical fitness is a crucial component of readiness and resiliency," Becker said. "Garrisons across the Army are offering fitness classes, sports activities and community events that appeal to all fitness levels and areas of interest. Visit your garrison MWR website to find all the events offered in May."
Becker is featured in a 30-second video promotion for STRONG B.A.N.D.S.
Because physical fitness has a direct impact on Army readiness, Soldiers must be mentally and physically fit. Not only are physically fit Soldiers essential to the Army, they also are more likely to have enjoyable, productive lives. Proper exercise programs enhance a person's quality of life, improve productivity, and bring about positive physical and mental changes.
Army FMWR and other organizations coordinate numerous fitness programs for Soldiers and Families.
All Army Sports offers opportunities for Soldier-athletes to compete against other service members in basketball, boxing, ice hockey, soccer, taekwondo, wrestling and many other sports.
The Army's World Class Athlete Program allows Soldiers to compete at the highest international levels of sports while serving their country. Participants can aim for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as other national and international achievements.
BOSS Strong is an Army program for single Soldiers that uses peer-to-peer support and a holistic approach to wellness. The Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers program helps participants maintain a balanced life through leisure and recreation activities, community service and quality of life.
Soldiers and Families also can get physically fit in FMWR facilities such as bowling centers, swimming pools, fitness centers, golf courses and through intramural sports.
U.S. Army Recruiting Command created two new fitness teams based at Fort Knox which are gaining attention.
USAREC selected 15 of the Army's elite to serve on the new Warrior Fitness Team, an outreach team that supports awareness and recruiting efforts. The Warrior Fitness Team will participate in competitions such as Strongman, Olympic lifting and Ninja Warrior. Its six-Soldier functional fitness team dominated the field at the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus in early March, winning the CrossFit Endeavor competition.
A 20-member Army Esports Team uses gaming as an outreach tool to help create awareness about Army careers and benefits. Engaging in social communities built for gamers allows Soldiers to be more relatable and educate young people about who they are and what they do in an authentic way.
USAREC also produces articles and videos for its Fitness Friday feature on Soldier athletes.
The Army's annual Best Warrior competition is the culminating test for non-commissioned officers and Soldiers across the globe striving to be the best at warrior tasks such as ruck marches, navigation, communications, range qualifications, interviews and essays. The winners earn the titles Army NCO of the Year and Army Soldier of the Year.
After years of study, the Army is changing its physical fitness test. The Army Combat Fitness Test will become the Army's physical test of record by October 2020, replacing the Army Physical Fitness Test.
The ACFT differs from its predecessor by emphasizing military tasks that Soldiers might use in combat. Army officials expect it to further decrease injuries, and to improve personnel readiness and combat effectiveness.
The Army Center for Initial Military Training launched a campaign, Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F), to focus on improving the Soldier selection process, physical performance, performance education, and transforming and improving Soldier fitness/training. Some of the new measures are being tested at installations. The field manual for Army Physical Readiness Training, FM 7-22, is now being rewritten with the name Holistic Health and Fitness.
This year's STRONG B.A.N.D.S. campaign includes two external partners.
The Exchange is partnering with Army FMWR this year by tying its "Be Fit" program to the STRONG B.A.N.D.S. campaign through social media, in-store videos and web content.
The Human Performance Resource Center, the educational arm of the Consortium for Health and Military Performance at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Science, also is providing educational videos and social media posts to support the campaign.
Army garrison-level STRONG B.A.N.D.S. activities this month may include walks/runs, softball, basketball, weight lifting, walks that feature children's books, CrossFit, bicycling and other events. Garrison participants will receive black and gold Army STRONG B.A.N.D.S. wristbands symbolizing their commitment to a healthier lifestyle. Army Sports, Fitness and Aquatics program officials will track garrison involvement.
During the 2018 STRONG B.A.N.D.S. campaign, more than 68,000 people participated in approximately 350 events at 77 locations.