Connected … Virtually


In the middle of a pandemic, stay at home orders, and an oversaturation of news and social media, it is easy to feel isolated and disconnected from a world that we previously knew. Many wonder if we will ever return to what we once knew or if this “New Normal” is really going to become our long-term reality. For many, social interaction now means gathering in video chat rooms or behind protective panes of plastic. Gyms once filled with runners, weight lifters, and those exercising, have become barren wastelands; the equipment left behind now a monument to what once was.

If this year has done anything for us, it has served as a stark exclamation point of one of our most basic human needs: Connection.

At our core, the human brain craves to be part of a larger group and accepted by those around us. From our earliest ancestral days to now, our subconscious drives our conscious thinking with a goal of connection with others, and it is this primal instinct that is a stimulus for friendships, involvement with community events, or any number of decisions we make daily. Our society will build upon this notion: if we live in a community and support each other’s need, we will survive and prosper.

Connection however, doesn’t just mean connection with other people. We must also stay connected to ourselves. While group acceptance is heavily weighted in our intrinsic value system, self-awareness and personal value are equally important traits. Many of us do things that bring us joy and satisfaction that rewarding our brain with feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction. Whether after a long day at work or a stressful event, connecting with ourselves allows our body and mind to release stress and tension.

One Soldier from the 104th Division (LT), Master Sergeant Kimberlee Hilliard, has taken the idea of connection into virtual physical training sessions. A trained and certified Army Master Fitness Instructor, she hosts online physical training seminars that help maintain fitness and agility. MSG Hilliard says she developed the idea after hearing about Soldiers complain they couldn’t get ready for the upcoming ACFT without going to a gym and couldn’t stay motivated without a group session. An avid and self-proclaimed fitness advocate, she wanted to bring the gym to the Soldier in a way that was easy and reliable.

With her garage as the backdrop, MSG Hilliard teaches Soldiers functional fitness without any traditional gym equipment that can be done anywhere her participants might be. MSG Hilliard says she wanted to design a class that anyone could participate in, regardless of fitness level or experience, and in about 30 minutes are more prepared for the upcoming ACFT. She says that while training for actual ACFT can’t be replaced, she leads exercises that are intended to make the Soldier more prepared for success.

MSG Hilliard’s videos can be found on the 104th Division Facebook page:

We are connected, virtually.


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