Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division attended a two-week Master Fitness Trainer Course (MFTC) hosted by the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team to learn about proper nutrition and research backed precision exercise techniques to reduce injuries to Soldiers during physical training.
MFT instructors from the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, descended on Fort Carson Oct. 15- 26, to train 27 selected officers and NCOs in all aspects of the Army's Physical Readiness Training system.
The purpose of an MFT is to teach leaders how to advise the commander and to develop a physical readiness training program based on the doctrine outlined in Field Manual 7-22.
"We are teaching (the students) how to build a program around their units METL (Mission Essential Task List) and the commander's intent, rather than just the very prescriptive manner of doing a strength training circuit," said Capt. Matthew Dixon, team leader for the MFT mobile training team. "The whole point of the Master Fitness Trainer Program is to increase our Army's ability to accomplish the mission and be physically ready to accomplish whatever our country calls for us to do."
The techniques for the program are not new. They have been used by many accredited agencies.
"They have been utilized by division one strengthening coaches, Olympic strength conditioning coaches and professional strength conditioning coaches," said Dixon.
Learning the way to properly perform exercises for injury reduction is an important aspect of the program, but it is only one piece of the solution. Understanding nutrition and how it plays a role in the Soldier's overall health is also an important factor.
"Nutrition is 60-80 percent of performance," said Dixon. "Understanding how to properly fuel our bodies as Soldiers, as tactical athletes, is going to enable us to be more combat effective."
In addition to strengthening the force, MFTs will develop and supervise a reconditioning program to monitor Soldiers on profile and ensure they are progressing in their recovery.
"We have had these issues where NCOs are looking at a Soldier's profile and it says that the Soldier can't do (certain physical activities)," said Staff Sgt. Jennifer Thomas, MFT graduate, 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st SBCT. "We need to bridge the gap with providers to know what the Soldiers can and can't do. We as MFTs need to make sure we are engaging the doctors and the physician assistants to understand the profiles the Soldiers are on."
Without full support from the commander, the MFT would face challenges.
"The most challenging aspect that we face as MFTs is trying to get senior leader 'buy-in' and authorization to properly develop a gradual and systematic program, which supports METL tasks and enables our Soldiers to maintain high levels of performance for extended periods of time," said Dixon. "The Army is looking at ways to improve longevity and sustain Soldiers' physical readiness for a full 20-year career cycle without serious injuries that could hinder the mission."
Bringing the knowledge of proper nutrition and proper exercise techniques, the newly certified MFTs will head back to their units and serve as advisers to their commanders, and develop a physical readiness training program that will be conducive to their commanders' METL and the Soldiers' overall well-being.
"Without a master fitness trainer, our unit's readiness would decline," said Capt. Kenny Padilla, human resources officer, 1st SBCT, 4th Inf. Div. "Utilizing the strength and conditioning support, the MFTs enable us to rehabilitate Soldiers and get them back to where they need to be for future missions."