Get fit. Eat better. Feel better. Be better. Entirely too simple a tactic to pass up, and satisfies like a capability warranty for the body, mind and spirit. 

Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. is back with the largest Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation campaign of the year, pushing Soldiers, their Families, and Department of Defense civilians to get up, get out, get busy exercising, eat better, and commit to a healthier lifestyle.

Strong B.A.N.D.S. is an abbreviation meaning “Strong balance, activity, nutrition, determination and strength,” promoting garrison fitness and wellness programs available to Soldiers, Families, retirees and civilians. While the human life-force is born resilient, it performs at a peak level when nourished properly — the true recipe to “be better.” 

Originally launched in 2011, the U.S. Army Installation Management Command’s annual program began May 1 at 68 installations, garrisons, forward-deployed locations and Reserve centers. Locations Army-wide are promoting programs and activities that support Soldier and Family resilience and encourage individual fitness throughout the National Physical Fitness and Sports month of May. All told, Strong B.A.N.D.S. will grace 347 programs across the Army.

“Train. Willing. Able.” is the theme of the 2017 Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. campaign. Each participating location selected at least five fitness activities or events to implement in May.

“We’re not asking them to create new programs — just to highlight existing programs to help generate extra buzz and participation in a class or program that already exists,” Strong B.A.N.D.S. coordinator Carole Herr explained. 

Soldiers and other eligible FMWR patrons are encouraged to attend featured fitness events at their location, where they will receive a Strong B.A.N.D.S. wristband to wear throughout May to express their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Several All-Army rugby players personify the seventh annual Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. campaign, including Capt. Andrew Locke and Sgt. Mattie Tago, who both played All-Army and Team USA rugby as Soldiers in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program; Sgt. Gerald Saafi of Fort Benning, Georgia; and Sgt. Anthony Welmers of the Michigan Army National Guard. 

When training his own body for the rugged sport of rugby sevens, Locke prefers on-field workouts.

“A workout that includes interval sprinting and burpees,” Locke explained. “Our sport demands maximum anaerobic work capacity. Our games are only 14 minutes long. The ball is in play for roughly seven minutes. During that seven minutes, we run on average of 1,400 to 1,800 meters, most of it at maximum velocity, while jumping, tackling and getting tackled. Workouts can be creative, but need to involve periods of maximum exertion with generally 1:1 rest periods.”

Locke realizes, however, that most Army Strong B.A.N.D.S. participants are not destined to play rugby.

“Rugby is a very physical collision sport,” Locke said. “Proper preparation includes not only the work in the weight room to have appropriate mass, it also includes mobility work. Elite athletes are some of the least flexible people around. This can lead to all sorts of overuse injuries once you are in a fulltime environment and the training volume is high.

“My wife is a Yoga instructor, so I have an appreciation for it increasing both mobility and mindfulness,” Locke added. “Have a growth mindset in terms of what your health and fitness needs are, and make sure how you are training is aligned with what your mission requirements dictate.”

Tago prefers diversity in his workout regimen.

“I like to stay active by doing many different activities,” he said. “I keep things fun and interesting when working out. Nutrition-wise, I think moderation is key. I eat healthy, but also love my doughnuts.” 

Tago resorts to cross-training to keep his workouts interesting.

“Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I do cardio in the morning, which consists of running for three to four miles outside,” Tago explained. “In the evening, I go to the gym and warm up on the stationary bicycle for 20 minutes, then I’ll run a mile on the treadmill as fast as I can.

“After that, I do weight workouts and mix it up with pushups, pullups and sit-ups. I do squats, lunges and calf raises, as well, at the gym using weights. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I play touch rugby, and then I go to the gym and play recreational volleyball, which keeps my workouts fun and keeps me competitive in other sports.”

For more information on the Strong B.A.N.D.S program, including fitness and nutrition tips, visit www.armymwr.com/programs-and-services/sports-and-fitness/strong-bands.