Training the trainer: exercise course teaches Army's new fitness approach
May 15, 2014
FORT LEE, Va. (May 15, 2014) -- Forty-nine Fort Lee Soldiers are in the midst of a training course that aims to provide them with the expertise and know-how to advise commanders on the administration of the Army's newest physical fitness program.
A mobile training team from the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School at Fort Jackson, S.C., began a Master Fitness Trainer Course here May 5 with the intent of providing students a more comprehensive understanding of the Army Physical Readiness Training program. The students will graduate May 30 with an additional skill identifier.
Capt. Amy Tang, MFTC team lead, said efforts to send MTTs out to the force stemmed from a need to further clarify the relatively new PRT, which had only been detailed in the release of Army Field Manual 7-22 a few years ago.
"The new FM comes out and goes to the leadership, but a piece of paper lacks the nuances and subtleties needed to accurately convey how to properly move or position your body for each exercise," she said. "It would be difficult to comprehend. We realized after publication (of FM 7-22) that no one really knew how to implement PRT within the units; that's when the school said we needed to get people out there to show them how to do it."
PRT is the Army's program for physical training, said Tang. "It is built in a manner to optimize human performance so that we have the maximum amount of readily deployable Soldiers."
The program's areas of emphasis include reducing physical training injuries, injury treatment and proper rehabilitation and training for specific events such as deployments. The instruction focuses on precision, progression and integration, explained Tang.
"What we're trying to get across to these NCOs is precision -- the precise movement for each exercise that is performed," she said. "In the aspect of progression, that means learning the very basic level of an exercise and working your way up."
In the integration piece, Tang said students learn "all the different types of programs within the PRT that can be combined to create an entire workout schedule from the very beginning -- let's say, when your unit returns from deployment -- to the sustaining phase, when you are working heavily during your physical training time."
The course instruction is sometimes met with some cynicism on the part of students, said Tang, partly because it replaces a fitness approach that's steeped in tradition. Most students, however, come to understand and embrace PRT as the course progresses. Sgt. 1st Class Tara Charles was one of the students who had doubts.
"Before the class, I thought I wouldn't see much improvement (in my fitness level)," said the Delta Company, 16th Ordnance Battalion platoon sergeant, "but since I've been in the class there has been a lot of improvement and it does work."
Students who graduate from the course become believers in the program, said Tang. She expects Soldiers to use that newfound enthusiasm and knowledge to integrate PRT within their units.
"After the Soldiers have acquired their new ASI, they will be able to assist their unit commanders in developing a PT program," she said. "They also should be able to look at a training schedule and write out a program for a company."
Graduates also should help to refine programs to fit the needs of the unit and work closely with medical personnel, said Tang.
"I expect the graduates to go to their commanders and parallel everything to match up with their mission essential task list," she said. "No. 2, I expect them to be the liaison between medical personnel and their unit. They need to talk to them, have a good relationship with them and identify the Soldiers who need that assistance."
Currently, there are six teams traveling to installations throughout the Army to certify trainers. The effort began back in the spring of 2013 and has since graduated more than 2,000 Soldiers. The program is scheduled to continue well into the next fiscal year, said Tang.