Military Review English Edition September-October 2014 - Page 22

Empower master fitness trainers. The Army should empower master fitness trainers with the same level of education, responsibility, autonomy, and professional reward as drill sergeants and recruiters. The master fitness trainer program holds much untapped potential. Structured properly, used consistently, and empowered with adequate resources, it could help streamline and improve U.S. Army PRT. It should not supplant current NCO and officer responsibilities for planning and administering PRT programs. Rather, it should empower leaders and soldiers with information, coaching skills, and injury prevention techniques. As evidenced by the popularity of extreme conditioning programs (which could include CrossFit) and the explosion of functional fitness-type equipment (such as bumper plates, lifting platforms, kettlebells, medicine balls, and large pull-up cages) in military gyms, many soldiers already perform a variety of functional movements at high intensity; the master fitness trainer program could help ensure they do so safely. Drill sergeant and recruiting positions are benchmarks in an NCO’s career progression. They are considered a stepping stone for promotion, so those positions are highly desirable. Commanders must recommend an NCO for drill sergeant or recruiting school by name; without the commander’s recommendation, the NCO cannot compete for the position. Master fitness trainer positions should be elevated to similar status. The master fitness trainer course is four weeks long; it should be expanded to at least 12 weeks to adequately prepare NCOs for their future positions. At a minimum, basics of exercise physiology, sports psychology, and biomechanics should be covered. Master fitness trainers should receive training from USA Weightlifting (Olympic) coaches, strength and conditioning specialists certified through the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and other strength, conditioning, and coaching professionals on the fundamentals of functional movements. Examples of movements to study include the squat, dead lift, and press; their variations and progressions; and lifts of increasing complexity such as the clean, jerk, and snatch. Master fitness trainers should learn to teach a variety of plyometric, kettlebell, barbell, and gymnastic techniques. They should learn how to improve a soldier’s running or swimming form and learn how to scale ba