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NCOs, leaders master workout routine

Northwest Guardian

Published: 05:12PM July 10th, 2014

More than 50 Soldiers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord recently graduated from a four-week Master Fitness Training Course focusing on the latest methods for Army physical readiness.

After 153 hours training inside and outside the classroom, a Mobile Training Team from Fort Jackson, S.C., concluded their instruction with a morning workout July 1 at Cowan Stadium on JBLM Lewis Main where non-commissioned officers and senior leaders showed they could lead their respective units as certified Master Fitness Trainers.

“Our students know how to do everything with precision, and we progressed them to a point where they’re doing (conditioning drills) 1, 2 and 3 two times by 10 repetitions each, in addition to the preparation and recovery drill,” said lead instructor Mark Smith.

The MFTC was reintroduced early last year to train instructors on the new Physical Readiness Training guidelines that were outlined in Field Manual 7-22 in October 2012.

The Army contracted fitness trainers through Anautics Inc. to develop Mobile Training Teams to travel to installations across the United States and overseas and teach the new MFTC.

After students graduate the course and become MFTs, they may instruct their own units on the Army’s updated PRT program.

The active Army is expected to have around 4,500 MFTs by the end of this year.

The designed workouts include three conditioning drills that include a variety of bridges, shoulder stability drills and cardiovascular movements selected for their resemblance to movements found in daily activity and on the battlefield.

“The program itself is based off war task battle drills, which the ultimate goal is to get the Soldiers to their optimal performance to perform their tasks on the battlefield,” Smith said.

Many of the course’s participants said they can relate many parts of the workout to their Military Occupational Specialties.

For example, an artilleryman might benefit most from core and lower-body exercises because a strong lower back and core are important for moving large rounds and ammo boxes. Infantrymen can also benefit from endurance-mobility exercises to prepare for runs and ruck marches.

Although completing the workouts is important, doing it right is the target of the course.

From start to finish, the 70-minute workout focused on precision, a skill and mindset that some Soldiers said carries over into everything they do.

“I’m not going to do a job not to standard,” said Sgt. 1st Class Brandon Knobloch, of 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “That reinforces discipline, and the Army is big on that.”

The course is open to active duty and Reserve Soldiers who are recommended by their battalion commanders. As certified MFTs, these Soldiers will receive an ‘Additional Skill Identifier,’” which are skills in addition to those needed for their MOS and may lead to promotions and other benefits for the Soldiers.

To gain the benefits the course offers, some Soldiers traveled to JBLM from outside the state; including Drill Sergeant (Sgt.) Jessica Bailey, of 1st Battalion, 330th Infantry Regiment, a reserve unit out of Fort Wayne, Ind.

While Bailey said the benefit of being in the course at JBLM included being able to network and learn from active-duty Soldiers, she also said the program makes her better trained as a drill sergeant to deal with injuries.

“Because we’re not active duty, we’re not as familiar with common injuries,” Bailey said. “Now we can see it as it’s happening; prior to them getting serious injuries.”

Trainers from the MTT said they are hearing similar sentiments from other Soldiers who say performing the new PRT workouts, along with their supplemental training, have reduced pain in their knees, legs and lower back.

Capt. Amy Tang of the MTT said a focus for the next fiscal year is to have more Reservists participate in the course and bring the training to more Reserve units that are interested.

“If anybody wants to join, really this program can be for anybody,” Tang said.