National Guard's 140th RTI offers new unit fitness coordinator course
By: Matthew J. Wilson/Missouri National Guard Public Affairs
Missouri National Guardsmen participate in some early morning interval running as part of the new Unit Fitness Coordinator Course, run by the 140th Missouri Regional Training Institute at Fort Leonard Wood.
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 19, 2010) — The 140th Missouri Regional Training Institute is offering a new course that will promote the Missouri Army National Guard’s goal of total fitness.
The Unit Fitness Coordinator Course is designed to train officers and noncommissioned officers with physical fitness knowledge and skills that they can take back to their units to promote a healthy lifestyle for all Soldiers.
With total fitness as the goal, Richland resident Spc. Rita Brumley, from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 35th Engineer Brigade on post, said it is important that the Guard find an educational way to teach its soldiers to be physically fit.
“If they don’t know what to eat or how to find personal motivation to complete their physical training, they can’t achieve total Army fitness,” Brumley said. “Say a soldier is struggling with the 2-mile run; we are learning ways to help them improve their time. It’s very instrumental for improving the well being for combat fitness, because we can be called up at any minute.”
“The intent was that every unit will have a soldier that has been to this course,” said course instructor Maj. Joe Campbell, of Regional Training Site Maintenance in Jefferson City. “The goal is that this is all done by early next summer — in the May-June timeframe.”
Diet tracking and interval running are methods Brumley plans to implement within her unit to improve physical fitness.
Brumley has been in the military for more than six years and says this is the best program she’s seen to help soldiers break up the monotony of typical physical training.
“It’s different. You need some creativity,” she said. “Yes, you can use the field manual 21-20, but when you are using that, you can have fun by changing it up. Just don’t do the same thing all of the time.”
The Guardsmen who take on that responsibility will have the additional duty of working with the company commanders and leadership to mold each unit into more physically and mentally fit soldiers, in and out of uniform, Campbell said.
“It will be about more than improving scores on the Army Physical Fitness Test,” said Campbell, who lives in St. James. “It’s also about health and wellness that will allow each soldier to be a better individual health-wise, as well as more combat ready and effective when they do deploy.
“One of our sayings is that, ‘Health and fitness is a lifestyle, not just a PT test.’”
In a classroom setting, soldiers who go through the week-long course will cover topics that include nutrition, diets and myths, metabolism, body mechanics, muscle and bone structure, cardiovascular fitness, strength training, effective workouts, counseling, weight control, lifestyle change, how to run a physical training program and how to administer an Army Physical Fitness Test.
The field training part of the course will be students going through varying morning and afternoon physical fitness regimens.
“That teaches soldiers a variety of ways they can train, whether it’s muscular or cardiovascular training,” Campbell said.
The physical training sessions cover dynamic warm-ups, track running drills, plyometrics, traditional physical training within formation and interval training. Students also learn to incorporate exercises using stability balls, stretch bands, aerobic steps and various weight training equipment found in gyms.
“This is another way we can get soldiers involved in physical training so that it’s not just all push-ups and sit-ups,” Campbell said. “That gets old for a lot of soldiers.“We also do a fun day where we might play ultimate Frisbee, because physical training, exercise and health should be fun.”
Making physical training fun is an overall theme, Campbell said.
“It’s good stuff, not punishment,” he said. “It makes your life better and is enjoyable, once you start getting into it.”
At the direction of the adjutant general, the regional training institute created the program and Campbell, a biology teacher and track and field coach at St. James, used his expertise to tweak it.
Because physical training can often be accomplished using different methods, or can simply evolve, Campbell encourages class discussion and will alter the design of the course as needed to advance learning within the class.
Because physical training can often be accomplished using different methods, or can simply evolve, Campbell encourages class discussion and will alter the course design as needed based on advance learning within the class.
“We have students who have strong backgrounds in health,” Campbell said. “We have an EMT, a nurse and a former fitness trainer. So we’re taking their input to improve the next course and the course after that.
“It’s not a static course. We’re asking for a lot of involvement and a lot of ideas from the students, because fitness and health is a huge concept. There are a million different ways to do it and they are all good, as long they do something. That’s the goal, to get these soldiers doing something and try to fit that in with their busy lifestyle, with work, kids and all the other things they do in their life when they are away from our drill weekend.”
The first class began Jan. 11 with 18 Guardsmen.
Sgt. Brennan Cox, from Headquarters Support Company of the 935th Aviation Support Battalion in Springfield, said the best thing he’ll take from the course is the different ways to do physical training.
“You get 18 different views on how to do physical training and that’s a lot better than one,” said Cox, who lives in Springfield. “I’ve enjoyed that.”
Through the course, Cox said he’s learned some ways to help fellow Guardsmen seek a better fitness level.
“We are trying to focus on how we can implement our healthy lifestyles into the lives of those who are having a hard time doing so,” he said. “One thing I’ve definitely taken from this course is learning the different components of muscles and the different values in nutrition that we can pass on to those back at the unit.
“Just changing your diet to eat healthier allows your body to accept any kind of physical activity. Eating healthier makes it a lot easier for bodies to adjust and make the most of physical training.”
Capt. Dustin Berry, of the 70th Troop Command in St. Louis, said the new course is a way to ensure the Missouri Guard maintains the highest physical fitness standards.
“This shows that the adjutant general and senior leadership at state are involved and care,” Berry said. “They want to enforce the Army standard, which is the way it should be.”
“I think this is one of the more important courses we are trying to implement now,” he said. “We have a big problem in the National Guard, and the Army for that matter, with a lack of fitness. I think it’s something we’re starting to crack down on and it definitely needs to happen.”
The course, Berry said, should help raise those standards.
“I think that for most fitness leaders in their units, they need some type of mechanism to teach and to show other soldiers, ‘These are some things you can do to help your physical fitness,’” said Berry, who lives in St. Louis. “We’re not here to be doctors or dieticians; we’re here to help average Soldiers do better on their Army Physical Fitness Test and be more combat effective.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction, especially since the Army got rid of the Master Fitness Trainer Program. The Missouri National Guard has stepped up to fill that void.”