FORT SILL, Okla. (June 27, 2019) -- Twenty-nine Soldiers participated in a pilot program here June 17-21, to learn tools that they can use as they lead their troops in Physical Readiness Training (PRT). The Performance Enhancement Foundation Course covered topics such as nutrition, physical training techniques, and creating a PRT programming plan.

The participants will be assessed over the next four months as they lead their PRT formations to determine if the training helps to prevent injuries and improve unit fitness.

Lt. Col. Damon Wells, Fires Center of Excellence Fitness Advisory Board member and Commander's Planning Group director, and Lisa Johnson, FCoE Community Ready and Resilient integrator, developed and coordinated the course.

"We're training health and fitness advocates who can take this information back to their units and ultimately increase unit readiness by making fitness better and more productive," Wells said. They will guide Soldiers with any issues such as nutrition, sleep, weight concerns, injuries; and can refer them to appropriate health and wellness resources.

The Soldiers came primarily from Reynolds Army Health Clinic and the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, Johnson said.

Classroom instruction was conducted at the Graham Performance Enhancement Center, and the physical training sessions took place at Goldner Fitness Center.

Day 1 began with an overview of the Training and Doctrine Command's initiative of holistic health and fitness, which emphasizes preparation for Soldiers' missions, Johnson said.

It continued with basic nutrition, and an introduction to fitness principles.

PRT programming principles were taught all five days because the students will have to create and implement an eight-week physical training regimen for their respective units.

The students' plans have to focus on the population that the Soldier trains, recognize differing levels of ability, take into account PRT for Soldiers on profile (documented limitations on work and training), as well as assimilating new Soldiers into PRT who, for example, arrive in week 5 of the plan. The plan must also reflect progression of intensity in the workouts, she said.

Because units have different Mission Essential Task Lists (METL), the students' PRT plans must focus on how the unit is working to achieve those METL goals, Johnson said. For example, a human resources company's PRT may differ from a field artillery battery's PRT, which might emphasize weight training.

Student Sgt. McKinley Ward, a Multiple Launch Rocket System repairer with 2nd Battalion, 20th Field Artillery, said he leads about 10 Soldiers in his section in PRT. He said his PRT plan will emphasize log carries, battle-buddy carries, hill sprints, pull ups, and climbing drills.

Day 2 covered coaching Soldiers for high performance, nutrition 2, myths and misinformation about PRT, and dead lift instruction.

"We stayed within Army regulations and guidance throughout the course," Johnson said.
Day 3 instruction included motivating Soldiers for performance, stress management and sleep, and nutrition 3.

Throughout the week, Wells taught technics in performing the squat, dead lift, bench press, and overhead press because they are the foundation of other exercises that Soldiers have the option of using.

"I'm showing them how to execute the movements," Wells said, "but I'm also showing them how to teach other people to do the movements and understand coaching cues, and understand the biomechanics and what it looks like when someone is doing the exercise."

The Soldiers took some of training that they learned throughout the day and used it the next morning as they led the class in PRT, Johnson said.

"That's another hour of learning opportunity, and from what they've said they're enjoying that part of it," she said.

During the course subject-matter experts were brought in to cover topics including nutrition, high intensity interval training, and musculoskeletal injuries.

On Day 4, Capt. Kira Zevanlunbery, of the Bleak Troop Medical Clinic; and Sgt. 1st Class Brian Vestal, RAHC Department of Rehabilitation NCOIC, presented on Reconditioning PRT, or getting Soldiers who are on profile to perform some types of physical training; and the science behind pain.

"We're going over introduction to injuries, how the body gets hurt, and how we heal it," said Vestal, who was also a student in the Performance Enhancement Foundation Course.

Day 5 topics included real-time resilience, cardio options, and speed and agility drills.
Student Staff Sgt. Carlos Acosta, RAHC medical lab technician, said he was gaining much from the pilot program.

"They are very knowledgeable trainers, and so many people are committed to this cause, and they came out here to dedicate their time," he said. "That's really cool."

An after-action review of the course content will be performed by the students to determine if the curriculum was beneficial, and the course developers will consider recommendations they have to improve the training, Johnson said.

Over the next four months, Johnson will assess the PRT programming plans that the students created as they lead their unit PRT.

First a baseline assessment of the units will be created. It will include a diagnostic Army Combat Fitness Test, current injury rates, profile numbers, flags for body composition, and medical readiness numbers, Johnson said.

At the end of the 16 weeks these areas will again be evaluated to determine if there was any progression toward positive numbers, she said. The findings will be presented to the FCoE and Fort Sill commanding general, Johnson said.