FRANKFORT, Ky. –
For two weeks in February 2023, the Kentucky Army National Guard Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) team conducted their first performance course at Boone National Guard Center in Frankfort as part of a push to help Soldiers perform at their best.
“Our performance course is based around the Holistic Health and Fitness system,” said Capt. Jeremy Mullins, H2F officer in charge. “We provide education in all five domains to increase the overall wellness of today's Soldiers to maximize their performance in multiple aspects.”
According to the Army’s FM 7-22, Holistic Health and Fitness, the five domains are physical, mental, spiritual, nutrition, and sleep readiness.
The H2F team is relatively new to the Army and includes unique training for some Soldiers.
According to Maj. Gen. Lonnie G. Hibbard, former commander of the U.S. Army Center for Initial Military Training and senior leader during the inception of H2F, the program is aimed at helping “the individual Soldier,” which included postpartum training for the first time in the Army.
“We’ve made leaps and strides [with H2F] by not looking at Soldiers as carbon copies of one another but as individuals. That’s the point of Health and Holistic Fitness,” he said.
According to 2nd Lt. Jesse Mascoe, H2F state coordinator, this "performance" course provides value by educating the Soldier on making healthier choices, teaching resiliency tools, connecting Soldiers to their inner spirituality, and maximizing individual potential to enhance their careers.
Students begin the performance course by completing an InBody scan to measure body composition and using a Functional Movement Screen (FMS) to test mobility. The H2F cadre then use this data to shape the training program, which teaches lifestyle changes, mitigates future injuries, and helps to meet individual goals.
“With the H2F model, we invest in the Soldiers' wellness which will optimize personnel readiness, reduce injury rates, and improve the overall effectiveness of the Army while allowing optimal performance in their personal lives,” said Mullins. “Data numbers show improved retention, improved fitness scores, improved quality of life scores, and a decrease in flagged Soldiers.”
Bravo Company, Kentucky Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion, was the first unit to attend the H2F performance course.
Performance experts from Fort Knox, Kentucky, Fort Riley, Kansas, and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, traveled to Frankfort to aid the H2F cadre in educating Bravo Company's recruiters on various performance topics, including ongoing stressors that impact their everyday life.
According to Staff Sgt. Hunter Marcinek, recruiters are faced with trials and tribulations. Therefore, “It is essential that we deliberately maintain resilience to ensure our competence,” said Marcinek. “The H2F course allowed recruiters to pause, breathe, and stand back up. This [training] gave us the strength to regain control of our mental, spiritual, and physical health.”
“What I see from our performance courses is a large amount of buy-in from the Soldiers," said Lt. Col. Eddie Simpson, AXE Course founder and H2F cadre. "By the time participants were educated on how their nutrition, sleep, recovery, spiritual and mental readiness affected their day-to-day performances, I feel more than eighty percent of Soldiers leave here with the attitude that says, 'Hey, I want to implement this into my daily life.'"
The National Guard Bureau (NGB) SRSC Production Team traveled to Kentucky’s H2F performance course to produce an informational video to showcase Soldiers' hard work on the TEAM and promote the program nationally.
The production team interviewed Kentucky's H2F cadre, Mullins, Mascoe, Simpson, 1st Lt. Brenton Abshire, and Staff Sgt. Suzanne Williams.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to educate attendees and honored to have NGB document our work," said Mullins. "The success of this program is important to me, and helping more and more people should always come first in our mission.”
Kentucky Holistic Health and Fitness recently started a podcast to continue spreading its messages and training to more audiences. They also provide online education courses through social media, Microsoft Teams, and regular in-person classes for any state, federal and uniformed personnel at Boone National Guard Center.
According to Mascoe, Kentucky's H2F leader, his goal is to bring awareness to health, wellness, and performance-enhancement training like this to the entire state.