“That’s why the military — just like you — is thinking about how to get healthier in the new year and beyond.

These base makeovers are setting the scene for the launch of Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F), a larger initiative that strives to radically change how the Army prepares service members. The proposal includes the introduction of a new field manual for training, plus the creation of Soldier Performance Readiness Centers (SPRC, pronounced “spark”), which will be state-of-the-art fitness facilities staffed by experts who can educate and offer real-time feedback on proper form, psychological well-being, nutrition and more.

An SPRC is not exactly a gym, says Maj. Gen. Malcolm Frost, who commands the Center for Initial Military Training at Virginia’s Fort Eustis, which is behind H2F. He compares it to the way the Army cares for equipment. “What we don’t have is a range to improve yourself,” he explains.

A better understanding of human performance is part of the impetus behind H2F, Frost says. But the initiative is also a reaction to the current American population, which is not nearly as fit as in previous generations. Frost says it’s a challenge to fight when tens of thousands of soldiers — or, as he calls them, “our primary weapons system” — are non-deployable because of weight problems and injuries.

Folks signing up to serve were once in peak condition, Frost says. “I like to say that 15 to 30 years ago, recruits were better prepared.  We were analogous to marinated steaks,” he explains.  “Throw us on the grill and we were ready to be soldiers.

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