FORT BRAGG, N.C. - "Postpartum!" The female Soldiers of the Postpartum Physical Training Program sound off with an assertive loud roar as the head instructor calls the group to attention.
For these Soldiers, PT is more than just physical activity; it's a chance to regain their prior weight and physical abilities before pregnancy. Because of a highly motivated instructor, almost all the Soldiers are achieving their goals, if not exceeding them.
Master Sgt. Ruby Ann Murray, the head instructor of PPTP, 1st Sustainment Command (Theater), has been volunteering her time and services to the PPTP for more than eight years.
The PPTP is a program designed for female Soldiers who have completed their pregnancy and are now trying to meet the Army's physical and weight standards in accordance with Army Regulation 600-9.
"This program is needed because of the big fluctuation of pregnant Soldiers here at Fort Bragg and a lot of chains of command have a misconception of what the Soldiers go through after pregnancy," explained Murray.
Before Murray started her work with the program, she was an aerobics instructor as well as a certified physical trainer, which often helps with her current position.
"Everywhere you go, statistics tell you that obesity is on the rise in the Army," said Murray. "Over the last seven to eight years I have tried to find a different way to help with that problem."
Many here at Fort Bragg will attest to the fact that Murray's unique techniques and dedicated motivation have definitely helped the Soldiers in her program not to become part of that statistic.
"We've had at least twenty female Soldiers go through the program in the last year and only one didn't initially meet the weight and PT standards," said Sgt. Maj. Robert McBride, 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. "It's an excellent program and I can't say enough about Master Sergeant Murray and the work she is doing with these females."
One of those outstanding female Soldiers is Staff Sgt. Mary Kirkland, who lost nearly 100 pounds. after giving birth to twins last November.
"I showed up over here (PPTP) after having twins and was really discouraged," explained Kirkland. "Before I got pregnant, PT was easy, and at first when I arrived here I felt I could never get back into shape. PPTP was the only place I felt that I belong and in the end it was the best experience I've had in the military."
In addition to helping these female Soldiers meet the Army standards, Murray is also increasing retention of Soldiers among the group.
"When I first got to the program I didn't think I would ever be able to pass a PT test or meet the weight standards," said Spc. Kimberly Newell, 18th Fires Brigade. "Master Sergeant Murray pushed me to do all the push ups, sit ups and to stay in the runs and once I saw I could stay in the runs, I was like, 'hey I can do this.' I maxed my last PT test before getting out of the program and decided to stay in the Army reenlisting for six more years."
Meanwhile, Murray doesn't stop at helping her Soldiers with PT and weight control.
"We don't just do PT, we practice drill and ceremony, teach them how to call cadence, how to be good NCO's, and officers how to be good officers," said Murray.
During each cycle, Murray has the same goal for the Soldiers before they leave the program.
"When they leave the program they don't just have the PT patch, they leave learning how to be warriors in the battlefield," said Murray. "The intestinal fortitude, motivation, and cohesion that we have in this program allows these girls to see they have found their happy place in the Army."
Murray uses her spare time to work on her bachelor's degree in sport management with hopes of owning her own gym one day. Murray is also writing a book about her experience being a postpartum and aerobics instructor, which is geared toward women in and out of uniform.
All in all, Murray's dedication and hard work to the PPTP is setting a positive example for other similar programs, while helping individual Soldiers to overcome the obstacles of meeting the Army's physical and weight standards after pregnancy.
"Master Sergeant Murray is amazing," said Kirkland. "She has made me have such a different outlook on the Army and now coming back over here (PPTP), every time it warms my heart to see the work she's doing."