ALEXANDRIA, VA– Soldiers can flex their muscles any time at just about any place with a strand of elastic resistance tubing in a pocket-sized package dubbed Army Fitness Deployed. The fitness guide was developed for Soldiers to maintain their muscular fitness while in the field, but the bands are being used for much, much more than a workout.

Being as ingenious as soldiers often will be, they discovered many other uses for the resistance bands, such as corrective eye and sunglass straps, clotheslines, tourniquets and gasoline siphoning.

“During the cold weather here, we had a HUMVEE windshield-washer hose freeze and burst, making the wipers ineffective,” Fox said. “I took a piece of one of the exercise bands and cut it to replace the bad hose on the vehicle and it worked.”

Fox said the tubing also has been used by combat lifesavers as a restrictor band that helps identify the vein for insertion of a needle for IVs.

“If you’re going to give a Soldier a tool to use in combat, give them a tool that has many uses,” he said.

Ingenuity aside, the purpose of the kit, recently developed by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation sports and fitness officials at the U.S. Army Community and Family Support Center (CFSC), is to keep folks fit despite their surroundings. The Army Fitness Deployed notepad features illustrations and written instructions concerning everything from warm-up to stretching to a 33-exercise regimen complete with a weekly training plan (see photo: Master Sgt. David Strong and Sgt. 1st Class Jason Sherer do the reverse fly exercise with the Thera-Band® system of resistance found in Army Fitness Deployed, a pocket-sized exercise kit. Photo by Sgt. Maj. Michael Fox.)

“If you follow the booklet and align yourself correctly, you can work the 12 major muscle groups of the body,” said Janet MacKinnon, CFSC fitness program manager. “That’s why we made sure that each Soldier got a booklet and a band together.

“Army Fitness Deployed has been extremely successful, mostly based on all the phone calls that we’ve gotten from people saying how much they appreciated it,” MacKinnon said. “They thought it was very ingenious that something so lightweight and so practical could be used for Soldiers – not only by keeping them mission-ready but by giving them a sense of recreation.”

After having everyone in his detachment of Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Soldiers exercise with Army Fitness Deployed, Sgt. Maj. Michael Fox, chief instructor for the psychological operations course at Fort Dix, NJ, said he realized that he needed more of the kits.

“I began my quest to locate 400 of these to use in our next classes, as well as provide them to the Soldiers we train,” he said. “The fact that it was designed to fit in the cargo pocket of the [battle dress] uniform was a great idea. It allows Soldiers the means to stay in shape no matter where they are stationed.”

“We’ve gotten lots of calls from Soldiers who are deployed,” MacKinnon said. “The warmest stories are the ones I get straight from Soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. They call directly and tell me how much they enjoy the bands and that they would like more of them.”