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By Air Force Master Sgt. Erich B. Smith, National Guard Bureau
ARLINGTON, Va. – National Guard Soldiers and Airmen working as a team can do far more than when working alone.
That’s why team building is April’s theme for the National Guard Holistic Wellness Challenge.
Driven by Army Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief, National Guard Bureau, wellness experts at the Army National Guard Professional Education Center (PEC) designated April’s emphasis. Teamwork directly supports CNGB’s priority on readiness.
Fresh off its launch in March, which emphasized sleep enhancement, the challenge focuses on a different holistic health and fitness topic each month.
“Combat is the ultimate team sport. We all work on a team made up of teams,” said Hokanson. “And it’s the team – no matter how large or small – that provides an extra layer of resilience.”
Army Maj. Benjamin L Seims, a human performance optimization coordinator at the PEC, said increased demand for Guard capabilities requires more physical stamina from Soldiers and Airmen.
That demand, he added, has created “an even greater need to be agile and resilient,” especially “due to the competitive advantage the Guard gives our military — the health and fitness of our formations play an integral role in the National Defense Strategy.”
For Army Maj. Robert Killian, a plans and project coordinator at NGB’s command, control, communications and computers directorate, team fitness activities are about more than just achieving optimal fitness.
“The most important thing about a team concept is accountability,” said Killian, who was part of the first Army National Guard team that won the Best Ranger competition in 2016. “Whether it’s ensuring that team members don’t leave each other behind or showing up for a workout on time, team exercises keep individuals motivated.”
But for the “sake of competition,” he said, team activities help improve individual performance.
“You just can’t get to a level of going past your threshold unless you’re competing,” said Killian, adding the team concept inspires others to “gravitate toward someone who’s going to push them and make them stronger.”
Some team fitness activities range from contemporary military exercises, such as medical ball slams and air squats, to the Dynamic Duo, where one group running in place determines how long another group exercises. Even the traditional ruck march is encouraged, Seims said.
Whatever the activity, he said, the benefits highlight the interpersonal skills of trust, cohesion, diversity and leadership — all critical elements in a “teamwork-driven world.”
“We are constantly surrounded by the challenge and satisfaction of working with diverse, uniquely organized groups of individuals that require the mastery of interpersonal skills to navigate successfully,” he said.
Hokanson said team building in physical fitness activities creates good spirits and inspiration.
“Be dedicated, be disciplined, measure your progress and try to have fun,” Hokanson said. “But you don’t always have to go it alone. Inspire others, and be inspired by others, as a team.”
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