FORT JACKSON, S.C. (March 20, 2014) -- The Army Reserve is taking a step toward embedding master fitness trainers into its units. Six Reserve Soldiers are currently in training to become certified master fitness instructors. Five of the Soldiers completed Phase I of the training at the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School here last week, the sixth is in the second phase of the program.
"This is huge from a strategic aspect for the U.S. Army Reserves, as we continue to improve the physical readiness of our units," said 1st Lt. Nicole Ouimette, the U.S. Army Reserve Liaison to the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School.
Ouimette said that keeping Reserve Soldiers physically fit year round can be a challenge.
"In the U.S. Army Reserves, many Soldiers have full-time civilian careers and aren't doing PRT (Physical Readiness Training) five days a week at their units like the active component," she said. "Most [U.S. Army Reserve] units train once a month and two weeks a year but still need to be physically ready to fight."
Staff Sgt. Scott Baranek, stationed in Tampa, Fla., with the 94th Training Division, shared a similar sentiment.
"Being physically fit is not something you do overnight," said Baranek, who is in Phase II of the training. "When we're actually at the units -- boots on ground, hands-on -- you see the Soldiers every day. You get to see what they eat. You get to see how they train. You get to see how they're progressing. You get to see if they're doing it wrong. You get to see if they're injuring themselves. All these different factors that you get to see on a daily basis, which is key to progressing."
The goal is to have a master fitness trainer at the company level for every Reserve unit, Oumette said.
"Imagine if you had a master fitness trainer at every PRT Formation your unit has - someone trained in all the principles of PRT (precision, progression, and integration) and someone able to give your Soldiers the tools to improve physical readiness on their own when they aren't at the unit once a month."
Providing Soldiers the tools to work out effectively on their own is what Sgt. 1st Class Pearl Gordon-Green said is one of the things she learned in the four-week course.
"I have the resources now that I can go back (to my Soldiers) and tell them what they need to do ... what exercises they need to do maybe five days a week and give them a plan," said Gordon-Green, whose 94th Training Division unit is based in Decatur, Ga.
The four-week class includes classroom and hands-on training that incorporates exercise physiology, anatomy, injury prevention, exercise science and Army regulations and doctrine regarding physical training policy and philosophy.
"When I first came here, I thought that I knew almost everything, but I've learned so much -- not only from the nutrition aspect, which is quite intense, but also just my training alone," said Baranek, a self-described fitness enthusiast since he was 10.
Staff Sgt. Brice Smith, whose unit is based at Fort Jackson, agreed.
"It's a great program. You learn so much here," Smith said. "It opens your eyes to nutrition, to working out, to your muscle anatomy, your skeletal anatomy and how things work together and how to be physically fit versus just muscular."