WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 10, 2013) – The Master Fitness Trainer courses are still being conducted Army-wide despite the partial government shutdown and reduction in temporary duty travel funds.
“The MFT (Master Fitness Trainer) training has not stopped,” emphasized Maj. David Feltwell, a lead MFT instructor and physical therapist at the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School, Fort Jackson, S.C. “We have six contractor teams in place and they are running those classes remotely with a total of 265 students in them.”
Since the training teams travel to the installations, it means the majority of the Soldiers don’t need to go on temporary duty, known as TDY, and this has been a real plus, Feltwell said.
The funding issue has had somewhat of an impact on the periphery of the program, he continued. Active-duty team leaders of the six mobile training teams, as they are called, returned to the MFT’s headquarters at Fort Jackson, where they are having a team leader summit.
Also “a few students had to return to their home stations, but since the vast majority of students are all residents at the (six) locations, they were not impacted by the TDY cancellations.”
Funding for the contractors was already in place before the government shutdown, so that was not impacted, said Frank Palkoska, division chief for the Army’s Physical Fitness School at Fort Jackson.
The full roll-out of the MFT began in April of this year, and the mobile training teams have already visited 16 installations, where about 1,050 master fitness trainers in total have graduated. Another 265 will graduate this month.
The pilot course for the new MFT course began Aug. 27, 2012. Before then, the last time the Army had an MFT program was in 2001.
Besides training the active component, MFT instructors conducted a course for Army Reserve Soldiers at Fort Knox, Ky., and one for the National Guard at Camp Mabry, Texas. Another permanent Guard MFT facility is planned for Yakima, Wash.
Within a few months, MFT classes are planned first in Korea, followed by Europe, Hawaii and Alaska.
Classes are four weeks long and include in-depth classroom and hands-on training in exercise physiology, anatomy, injury prevention, exercise science and Army regulations and doctrine regarding physical training policy and philosophy.
The MFT is an additional skill identifier, meaning Soldiers with the MFT certificate also assist commanders in designing and teaching physical readiness programming for their units, Feltwell said.
They also advise Soldiers on an individual and group basis. They are able to incorporate other performance-related programming like nutrition and sleep. Experts from Army Ready and Resilient Campaign programs like Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness and Performance Triad have linked their instruction into the MFT classes.
The ultimate goal, according to the Army chief of staff’s directive, is to embed an MFT Soldier down to the company level, Feltwell said.
He added that the training has been well received by the students and by their commanders, who appreciate the impact MFT has on unit morale and readiness.
The free Physical Readiness Training or PRT app has been downloaded 30,000 times, and viewed 4 million times, according to Feltwell. MFT has its own Facebook and YouTube sites as well.