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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2023

Guard chief plans fitness initiative for Guard, families

By Air Force Master Sgt. Erich B. Smith, National Guard Bureau

The chief of the National Guard Bureau is launching a holistic fitness initiative in March to improve the wellness of National Guard members and their families. The new program highlights two priorities of Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson: readiness and people.

“Readiness merges with people when it comes to fitness,” Hokanson said recently during a roundtable discussion. “Every mission is made possible by our people.”

Hokanson will announce a new activity for Guard units to complete each month. Additionally, NGB officials will send out information connected to the challenge, explaining why it was chosen and how it will support the health and wellness of Guard members and their families.

Hokanson’s priority on people extends to Guard family members, who are integral to helping Soldiers and Airmen maintain their readiness.

Planned challenges are expected to represent the continuum of holistic health and fitness. Units will choose how they wish to implement the challenge within their organizations.

The initiative also aims to showcase proven programs that can be replicated or adapted throughout the 54 states, territories, and the District of Columbia.

Guard officials said that while results are important, one enduring goal of the program is “the continued strive for preventative care as part of the process to achieve a healthy lifestyle – not necessarily focused on specific outcomes.”

In the spirit of the initiative, Hokanson and his wife recently participated in an event where they ran a 5K, 10K, half-marathon, and marathon over four consecutive days.

“Now, I don’t expect everyone to do that,” Hokanson said. “But starting in March, we are instituting a monthly fitness challenge for our force – encouraging our Soldiers, Airmen and their families to focus on taking care of themselves, becoming more resilient and building individual readiness, and hopefully have fun in the process.”

Though the Army and the Air Force have recently revamped their fitness assessments, the activities for the challenge will be independent of specific fitness tests. However, the programs should complement Guard members’ training for their fitness tests.