"When I had my daughter back in 1998, I became a statistic for big Army," said Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, G-5 plans sergeant major, 1st Theater Sustainment Command. "I had gained between 80 to 90 pounds after having her. I went home every night, looked at my daughter and realized that the Army was where I wanted to be. The Army is what I wanted to set my goals on and realized I needed to do whatever it took for me to get this weight off and I was going to do whatever it took."
After reaching her goals through hard work and dedication she quickly found herself helping other Soldiers.
Murray, a native of Exmore, Va., started out in her unit helping the "fall-out" Soldiers during physical training. A couple years later, she found herself as the leader of Fort Bragg's Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training Program. What started out as a six-month tasker for her unit, lasted much longer. During a seven-year period she was able to helped hundreds of Soldiers in the PPPT program.
"I continued on to give back and progress and got my bachelor's degree in sports management," said Murray. "It was at that time that I realized postpartum wasn't the only thing that I wanted to do. I wanted to do more - get into step aerobics, kettle bells, anything that could to save a Soldier. Whether they were pregnant, on profile, or overweight - I felt it was my duty to be that leader that led from the front. If I can do anything in my power to get you to where you need to be at, physically, then I was destined to do that."
Murray, not only leads and teaches Soldiers, and their Families about physical fitness, but encourages them to find strength and to better handle life's challenges through the Army's Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness program.
According to the Army Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness website, the program is a long-term, enduring initiative created to support the five dimensions of strength - social, emotional, Family, spiritual, and physical resilience of Soldiers, Families and Army civilians.
"The best way I find to motivate Soldiers is teaching them how to find their 'happy place,'" said Murray. "There is a difference between happiness and joy … What you do on the outside is not who you are on the inside. If I can tell you that your happy place is a beautiful place regardless of if it's in your unit or some place you have never seen before, stake your place. Do it for yourself and do it unconditionally."
Murray can be found in Dahl Physical Fitness Center on Fort Bragg every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday starting at 6:30 a.m. doing what she loves to do - helping people improve their physical fitness and overall well-being.
After a permanent change of station and a return to Fort Bragg, word has quickly spread that she is back helping others reach their goals.
"I have heard through the grape vine that she has been averaging 90 to 150 participants," said Mike Desmone, acting chief of sports and fitness and fitness facilities manager, Fort Bragg Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program.
Filling the fitness center's basketball court area, Murray sees new faces at each class and others who have been participating since she started.
"I have been doing this program since she started Jan. 7," said Sgt. 1st Class Diane Evans, G-1, strength management noncommissioned officer in charge, 1st TSC.
Evans had just returned from a deployment to Kuwait when she first met Murray. Murray explained her program to Evans and several of her Soldiers decided to see what it was all about.
"I'm enjoying the program," said Evans. "It is very fun and something other than the everyday pushups, sit ups and run."
Murray encourages everyone to give her class a try, and not just themselves, but to bring friends, spouses and significant others.
"My work-out routine is not just geared to females," said Murray. "It's all about conditioning your entire body. I have nine different certifications under my belt and it is very important that my class never be looked at as a Zumba class. At least 45-minutes of my class is going to be an intense, insane work out."
Desmone added that not only is there interaction and camaraderie but there is also a sustained level of performance.
"With this type of exercise and activity you are looking at a total body work out," said Desmone. "You are engaging different aspects of muscle movement where you traditionally wouldn't get that by doing pushups, sit ups and running. You're sustaining your cardiovascular system for a prolonged time where interval rest is very short."
During her classes, Murray also provides health tips for both male and females struggling with their weight or who want to eat healthier.
"You can work out six days a week, but if you are not eating healthy, it defeats the purpose," said Murray.
To learn more about Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness, visit http://csf.army.mil/index.