STUTTGART, Germany -- U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart was one of 59 garrisons world-wide selected to participate in the “Strong B.A.N.D.S.” promotion in support of National Sports and Fitness Month in May.

B.A.N.D.S. stands for balanced lifestyle, actively motivated, nutritional health, determined to excel, and strength and conditioning. The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation promotion is designed to energize and inspire community members to live a healthy lifestyle.

Each participating garrison hosted a minimum of three fitness- or health-related events throughout the month. Participants were given Strong B.A.N.D.S. wristbands that symbolize the community’s commitment to a healthier lifestyle.

USAG Stuttgart’s events were the “Bike to Work Week” on Kelley Barracks May 16-20, the Cobblestone Classic run May 21, and a Boot Camp fitness class held at the Panzer Fitness Center May 24.


Kelley Barracks, home to U.S. Africa Command, was the site of this year’s USAG Stuttgart “Bike to Work Week” May 16-20. At the center of the installation, a group of AFRICOM cyclists under the leadership of Mark “Hap” Harlow rallied each day beneath a blue and white canopy adorned with a kaleidoscope of racing jerseys to share their insights on the value of cycling. Daily seminars covered topics such as commuting, safety, bicycle maintenance, family cycling, and touring Europe.

At the first lunch-time seminar, Harlow told a gathered crowd of the “rainbow” of cycling benefits: “fitness, health, fun, green-power, traffic relief, family recreation, and … a key to Europe.”

The intent of Bike to Work was to encourage the community to take advantage of the cycling opportunities in Europe and return to the U.S. with a more complete understanding of the benefits of bicycling. However, it was also to have fun, which was made apparent on the final day of the week with a group ride through the surrounding forests to the historic city of Tübingen.


At Family and MWR’s annual Cobblestone Classic on May 21, 234 community members ran the historic cobblestone tank trail from Patch Barracks to Panzer Kaserne.

The sun was shining as runners made their way over five miles of trail, starting at Husky Field on Patch Barracks and finishing outside of Panzer Kaserne’s main gate.

“It was an exceptionally beautiful day " you couldn’t ask for a more perfect day for a run,” said Ricky Payton, USAG Stuttgart assistant sports and fitness director.

Once on Panzer Kaserne, runners were greeted with by a large crowd outside the Panzer Mall, where the award ceremony was held.

The top three finishers overall and in the men’s category were Douglas Hutcheson, with a time of 29 minutes, 25.6 seconds, followed by James Davis, 30:25.8, and Jeffrey Maione, 31:13.5. The top finishers in the women’s category were Joy Connell, with a time of 34 minutes, 14.2 seconds, followed by Melissa Nettleingham, 34:51.7, and Kristen Gilbert, 38:05.4.


The Boot Camp class, held weekly at the Panzer Fitness Center is an hour-long total body fitness course taught by Courtney Rife through FMWR Sports and Fitness. On May 24, class participants were divided into groups and rotated to different stations, where they completed exercises from crunches and jumping rope to squats.

Rife said the class was an ideal way to promote the Strong B.A.N.D.S. promotion.

“Living a healthy lifestyle means much more than just exercising. Our country is plagued by so many diseases ... that can almost always be avoided by making good food choices in combination with an effective fitness program,” said Rife, who has been teaching the class for two years.

“The biggest reward for me as an instructor is the positive changes I have seen in so many of the participants and their desire to reach a higher level of fitness than they are used to,” she added.

And all being fit is the first step toward resilience, according to Darrell Manuel, Army Sports Director at the Family and MWR Command.

“Resiliency is about more than just emotional, family, or social fitness,” he said. “It all starts with a healthy body. We want to inspire our Soldiers and families to make nutrition and physical fitness a priority.”

Editor’s Note: Mike Robertson, U.S. Africa Command, Brittany Carlson, USAG Stuttgart Public Affairs Office, and the Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command Public Affairs Office contributed to this article.