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Master Fitness Training Course held here

Soldiers in the Master Fitness Training Course at Fort McCoy in July learned that the Army physical fitness program is going back to the basics to develop soldiers who are ready to meet any physical challenge sent their way.
Soldiers do stretching exercises to increase flexibility during the Master Fitness Training Course.
Soldiers do stretching exercises to increase flexibility during the Master Fitness Training Course. (Photo by Rob Schuette)

Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy, an instructor at the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School at Fort Benning, Ga., said the current physical fitness training standards focus on running and endurance. That is being done at the expense of strength, flexibility and other training needed to successfully execute the physical missions of the Army.

"One of the biggest concerns we're running into is a lack of precision and mental discipline among the soldiers," Murphy said. "We're going back to the basics of calisthenics and dumbbell (weight) training."

Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy (standing) helps a student learn weight-lifting techniques.
Master Sgt. Kevin Murphy (standing) helps a student learn weight-lifting techniques.  (Photo by Rob Schuette)

The lack of weight training has led to weaker soldiers who get injured, Murphy said. The Master Fitness course, which was hosted by the NCO Academy at Fort McCoy, concentrated on having the soldiers develop the strength techniques they would need to lift equipment on the battlefield. The Army Reserve Readiness Training Center at Fort McCoy also supported the class with the use of a classroom.

An increased emphasis is being placed on flexibility and mobility. Murphy said personnel are getting injured while moving side-to-side, bending over or climbing things, such as a rope or over a fence.

"They can hurt themselves doing these things because they never do them," Murphy said. "These are skills they would need during a deployment, for example."

Sgt. Steven Keivel, an Active Guard/Reserve soldier at the Army Reserve Readiness Training Center at McCoy, said he took the course because it was challenging and because he could use it to assist soldiers in physical fitness training.

"The intensity we needed to accomplish the grass drills and gorilla drills was my favorite part of the course," Keivel said. "It was a hard day, but it was satisfying."

Soldiers taking the course learned the value of stretching and warming up. Keivel said the course also taught strength and endurance, as well as the value of proper nutrition.

Murphy said the course added new elements, such as the obstacle course, the dumbbell weight lifting, medicine balls and a decompression and mobilization section.

The decompression and mobilization section showed soldiers how gravity molds their body tissue and how to use different exercises to ensure all parts of their bodies are used and in shape, he said. The other new training helped develop all-around physical fitness.

Staff Sgt. Curtis House, a reservist with the 2291st Army Hospital of Oklahoma City, Okla., said a lot of soldiers don't have a good idea of how to keep in shape.

"We were exposed to a lot of changes and improvements in the Army's physical training (PT) program," House said. "We learned a lot of ways and methods to help people who are struggling with PT."

Staff Sgt. Megan Friend, who is the training NCO at the Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Military Police Company, said the program will help her provide assistance to her commanding officer to develop a PT program.

"It will be challenging to improve the unit's physical fitness level and to help provide guidance of how to get them to be physically fit," Friend said. "We also could see where the Army is going in the future, and what types of things we can do to enhance the PT program."

Friend, an active-duty soldier, also said it was informative to attend the course with members of the Guard and Reserve and learn about their PT programs.

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