By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderMay 29, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (May 14, 2014) -- An interactive mobile app being used by the Master Fitness Trainer Course was developed here at Fort Jackson.
The app is a digital translation of Field Manual 7-22, a publication that spans more than 400 pages detailing the core requirements of Army Physical Readiness Training. The print edition of FM 7-22 is accompanied by online supplements, a strategy which was cutting edge several years ago, but has gradually grown more cumbersome in recent years.
"TRADOC requested a proponent-approved app for the Physical Fitness School that mirrored FM 7-22," said Steve Northrop, Education Technology Branch chief of the Soldier Support Institute. "It's very specific in that it follows FM 7-22 to a tee. There are no modifications to it."
The Master Fitness Trainer Course certifies Soldiers who then serve as physical fitness advisers to unit commanders. Although TRADOC was satisfied with the information used to train these Soldiers, command was interested in creating a mobile application which would make information in the field manual available anywhere.
FM 7-22 was initially made available as a digital download in the PDF format -- a file that was once 158 megabytes in size, Northrop said. Although the document was portable on mobile devices, it still provided no features beyond that of the print edition.
"And that was just a PDF, so you had to scroll through pages of text," said Keri Boyce, an IMI training developer for Logistics Systems Inc., a contractor for the Education Technology Branch of the SSI. "With an app, it's organized in a way that you can find what you want by touching (the screen) as opposed to wading through a PDF."
The concept behind the mobile app is to make the FM 7-22 available to Soldiers in the field and classroom in a dynamic, practical manner to fully familiarize them with the manual's exercises, drills and training schedules in a way that meets individual needs.
In addition to being a faithful recreation of the field manual, the app is accompanied by enhancements that cannot be included in any print publication. Among those is a metronome feature, which allows Soldiers to properly pace themselves during workouts.
"What Soldiers used to have were videos on a disc, or videos on YouTube," Northrop said. "We took all of those videos, put them under a Vimeo account for the Master Fitness Training Course and linked (the app) to the videos."
Boyce said those videos had previously not been made publicly available.
"If you were taking a master fitness class, that was the only time you would see the videos," she said. "Now, Soldiers can access them from wherever as long as they have an Internet connection."
"And you can see how the exercises are done correctly," Northrop said. "The videos are from the Master Fitness Training Course, so (the people in the videos) know exactly what the repetitions look like."
The app also includes training schedules, an APFT Score calculator, the official Army Body Composition Calculator and a run timer.
Since its launch in April, 2013, the Army PRT has been downloaded 70,000 times. It is a free download and available for most mobile platforms.
Although the information hasn't changed, the app has continued to shrink since its launch, as well. It is now down to 28 megabytes.
"The goal was to keep the app small enough that people would want to keep it on their device, but keep all of the information in the app," Northrop said.