FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — With the Army Combat Fitness Test, or ACFT, now the official standard of physical fitness in the Army, it’s important for Soldiers to learn how they can safely achieve their best results.
One way Fort Leonard Wood’s Army Wellness Center is helping is with their Performance Optimization Class. According to Anna Schwartz, the AWC’s supervisory health educator, the goal of the class is to teach Soldiers more effective exercise programming and body mechanics to improve ACFT performance and decrease injury risk.
Schwartz said the AWC offers the 60-minute class at least once per month at their facility in Bldg. 350. She said units may also reserve a location with ACFT equipment and contact the AWC to schedule a “train the trainer” class. Schwartz asked that units request the class at least a month in advance and have at least 10 individuals scheduled to attend.
“This is targeted for those leading physical fitness sessions, such as drill sergeants or master fitness trainers, as they will be able to apply what they learned, not only for themselves, but for those they are leading,” Schwartz said.
One of the most recent classes took place on June 30, at Training Area 108, where drill sergeants with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment, were able to attend the class while on a break between cycles of trainees. Staff Sgt. Deseana Green has been a drill sergeant with Alpha Company for about a year and called the class informative.
“It helped a lot with how to go about the ACFT, especially on how to perform the dead lift and sprint-drag-carry events,” she said.
Green said her unit will now take the information learned and use it to assist their next group of trainees to more safely excel at the ACFT, which, besides the dead lift and sprint-drag-carry events, features a standing power throw, hand release push-ups with arm extensions, a plank exercise and a two-mile run.
Schwartz said other former attendees of the class have said they learned they may be struggling with one specific ACFT event, such as the standing power throw, due to a lack of mobility and execution of proper body mechanics. Others have taken suggestions from the instructors on how best to lay out the equipment, as that also plays a role in performance.
“Lastly, the clients who attend this course are able to take away a better understanding of how to structure their preparation for the test, both mentally and physically,” Schwartz added.
Schwartz said the class has been offered here since 2020, and like the other AWC classes, it is taught by professionals with expertise in areas such as exercise science, physiology, kinesiology and nutrition. Many are certified personal trainers and strength and conditioning facilitators as well.
“This is just one of the many classes AWC presents, but if a client wants further assistance, they can also schedule a health coaching session, in which they discuss their current fitness routine with a health educator for a more specific exercise prescription to meet their goals,” Schwartz said. “Additionally, the AWC conducts fitness testing to track changes in cardiorespiratory capacity, strength and flexibility. Results can provide good information on what areas of fitness need improvement and what heart rate training zones to perform within for certain training goals.”
The AWC’s services are open to all service members, retirees, Department of Defense civilians and dependents of active-duty service members. Call 573.596.9677 for more information.