FORT HOOD — Precision, progression and integration are the three principles of the Army’s latest course aimed to standardize its morning exercise program.

The master fitness trainer course is for noncommissioned officers tasked with conducting or planning their unit’s daily hour of physical training, so they can bring back knowledge and better incorporate the Army’s new physical readiness training program into morning routines.

Fort Hood is one of six installations where the four-week master fitness trainer course is underway, with an end goal of having a master trainer in every company or battalion.

“It eliminates the guesswork,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy Martinez, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. “Old (physical training) didn’t have the same structure necessary to keep everyone online. You had to make things up as you saw fit. Now it’s a doctrine and it’s scheduled out.”

Martinez is one of 35 NCOs from across post in Fort Hood’s second offering of the master fitness trainer course.

“They’ll take this knowledge back to their units and as a (master trainer) they’ll be the link between the commander and the physical fitness field, and the link between the medical field and the command unit,” said Mark Smith, lead instructor for the course at Fort Hood. As a contractor from Anautics Inc., he is part of one of six training teams out of Fort Jackson, S.C.

The medical role of a master trainer is to work with a unit’s physical therapist or physician’s assistant to help profiled soldiers continue to exercise and gain strength despite injury.

“Those soldiers can stay in the unit and stay exercising,” Smith said. “The current (physical training) doesn’t allow for modifications of exercises to maintain physical readiness.”

‘Be the voice for the soldier’

Chief Warrant Officer-2 David Williams, of the 1st Cavalry Division, took the first course offered at Fort Hood and said his new training allows him to serve as a resident expert on the physical readiness training system. Since graduating May 9, he said he’s already done a couple of nutrition evaluations for fellow soldiers, trying to encourage healthier eating habits to meet their goals, especially those trying to meet Army weight standards.

“People have got to get out of the mindset of ‘All he is going to do is judge me.’ We’re not there to pass judgment,” Williams said. “One of the duties is to be the voice for the soldier.”

During the course, each afternoon is four hours of classroom work — studying nutrition, exercise science, anatomy, exercise physiology, kinesiology, physical readiness training execution and philosophy, Army regulations and doctrine regarding physical training, policy, regulations and philosophy of the program — and every morning is four hours of executing the exercise drills.

Because soldiers must have a certain score on their Army Physical Fitness Test to attend the course, instructors can work through each level of a drill’s modifications.

“Right off the bat you learn that doing things precise and in order is necessary,” Martinez said.

Drills promote teamwork

During climbing drills, soldiers in the course first do a series of exercises with their own body weight, then with body armor. Smith said soldiers can add or remove plates as they chose to increase their weight. Throughout, soldiers spot each other and correct form, to ensure precise execution of each exercise.

“It’s designed for functionality,” Smith said. “The movement is designed to mimic what soldiers do in combat. It’s working on all planes of motion.”

Staff Sgt. John Powell, of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said he’s already learned things in the course he plans to bring back to his unit.

“I’m going to introduce drills we haven’t been doing previously, and work on the precision piece,” he said. “I would recommend the course for everybody.”

Williams agreed.

“I encourage as many leaders who can get into the course to go take it,” he said.

Smith and his team will offer the course through September and then head to Fort Benning, Ga., to continue certifying master fitness trainers.

Contact Rose L. Thayer at or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.

Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here.

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