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New fitness training covers sleep, nutrition

Nov. 17, 2012 - 09:01AM   |   Last Updated: Nov. 17, 2012 - 09:01AM  |  
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Recruits train at Fort Jackson, S.C., and validate master fitness training principles with reduced injuries and enhanced performance. The Master Fitness Trainer program graduated its first pilot class, Sept. 21 at Fort Jackson.
Recruits train at Fort Jackson, S.C., and validate master fitness training principles with reduced injuries and enhanced performance. The Master Fitness Trainer program graduated its first pilot class, Sept. 21 at Fort Jackson. (David Vergun)
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Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler took to his Facebook page Nov. 14 to announce that, on Nov. 8, the Army officially ordered the re-establishment of the Master Fitness Trainer Course, with the goal of a trainer in every company by October 2014.

"Serving in the U.S. Army is no place for a couch potato," he wrote.

The course teaches trainers how to counsel soldiers on multiple dimensions of fitness to help them take care of themselves between regular medical checkups.

Thirty-one soldiers from the first MFT pilot class graduated at Fort Jackson, S.C., in late September. With this official go-ahead from the top, the program will continue until March, and instructors will use feedback from the pilot to finalize the curriculum. The next phase will see resident instruction at Fort Jackson while six Mobile Training Teams take the course to installations around the world for at least 18 months, according to Chandler.

The master trainers will help company commanders develop fitness programs tailored to their mission while saving money through injury prevention and overall fitness, in addition to addressing soldiers' specific health concerns.

Trainers' advice won't be limited to exercise programs. "I'm happy to see the course takes a holistic approach to fitness and provides information about nutrition, sleep cycles, rehabilitation and the underlying science of exercise," Chandler wrote.

The Army plans to certify 6,000 master trainers over the next three years, first assigning them to advise battalion commanders, then increasing their presence to the company level, according to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Capt. Donald Maye.

Enlisted soldiers from staff sergeant on up and officers O-1 through O-3 will have first priority to sign up. Maye said soldiers at these ranks are best suited to lead in smaller units. Second priority will go to E-5 drill sergeants and warrant officers through CW2.

Class sizes will vary, but 40 trainees is considered optimal while 50 is the maximum. In order to participate, soldiers must meet Army regulation height and weight requirements with a minimum 240 score on their latest PT test. Because of the course's intellectual demands, Maye also recommended applicants have a General Technical knowledge score above 110.

Complete enrollment and course information is available online through units.

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