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Mobile Army team shows Fort Drum soldiers how to lead fitness training

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FORT DRUM — It’s back to basics for several soldiers as the Army has sent a mobile team of Army and civilian instructors to show them how to lead the fitness routines of their own units.

“We’re giving them the why behind these exercises,” said Capt. Evan L. Abramson, one of the instructors on post Wednesday.

The four-week Master Fitness Trainers course runs through a wide range of exercises that correspond to the Army’s standardized physical readiness training, along with a series of classroom sessions where soldiers learn about things such as nutrition, exercise science and Army regulations. As the weeks progress, soldiers slowly begin to take over the exercises.

Instructors see the course as a way to quickly pass along exercise information from higher leadership to lower level units.

“As soon as it meets in the middle it’s going to have a huge impact,” said Cory D. Schierberl, the lead civilian instructor for the team on post Wednesday.

He said the goal is to increase performance and reduce injuries occurring from overworking certain muscles.

The program was ended in 2001, but was brought back this year after a pilot program the previous year. The placement of mobile teams, featuring one Army and four civilian trainers, is seen as a way to save time and money by avoiding the cost of transporting and lodging classes of soldiers at Fort Jackson, S.C., where the course primarily is taught.

“We bring the course to the soldiers,” Capt. Abramson said. Mr. Schierberl said at the moment there were six other mobile teams at installations across the country teaching the course.

During a brief period for the Times to view the program Wednesday, soldiers worked on shuttle runs and a series of short runs at the outdoor track and field of the post’s Magrath Sports Complex. Though the teams can support the training of 50 soldiers, the class seen Wednesday had about 25, because of ongoing training exercises that pulled soldiers elsewhere.

During a shuttle run, Mr. Schierberl stressed for soldiers to work on their form as they moved from one cone and back.

“That was not the proper turn ... do it,” he called out to a soldier who didn’t bend his knee fully and touch the ground before turning around.

Each of the soldiers in the group was suggested for the program by his or her unit’s commander, and had scored a 240 on a physical fitness test.

The current course, the second of three to be taught locally, is in its second week.

Capt. Abramson said the standardized exercises would be most applicable to the soldiers’ work.

“We’re training them to be better soldiers, not better body builders or better crossfitters,” he said.

The course is not connected to the Mountain Action Warrior or the functional fitness programs that have gained momentum and substantial funding on post. In about the past year, the post has spent about $10 million to create and renovate its fitness offerings, including a new functional fitness center and smaller training areas at the battalion level.

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