FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 18, 2012) -- Following the active Army component, the Missouri National Guard is pushing its Soldiers to be more all-around physically fit as opposed to simply being able to pass the Army Physical Fitness Test.
"The Army found that after 10 years of war, Soldiers are getting broken," said. Capt. Ken Huenink, Missouri Guard state fitness coordinator. "The injury rate for backs and knees was through the roof."
The Guard's most recent Unit Fitness Coordinator Course focuses on this type of training to help get this new information back to its units.
"A lot of it is about functional fitness," Huenink said. "It's a more well-rounded approach. The whole mindset is changing."
Once trained, a unit fitness coordinator acts as a subject-matter expert for their commander in health, fitness and nutrition for Guardsmen.
"The coordinator does programming and planning for unit fitness, is a technical expert on the Physical Readiness Training Program, which is the Army's official fitness program, and provides individual counseling for Soldiers for health, fitness, nutrition and weight control," said Huenink, who lives in Jefferson City.
Guardsmen learn how to be a coordinator through a one-week class.
"Once completed, they'll be certified," Huenink said. "Most of our fitness is done individually, so what they'll do is go back to their units and teach this stuff. Then those Soldiers can take it home."
Huenink and staff from the 140th Regiment Missouri Regional Training Institute recently conducted a Unit Fitness Coordinator Course, their second of the fiscal year, for 16 Guardsmen.
The coordinator program began in the Guard in early 2009.
"Before, it was more traditional Army physical training and now we're doing more of the unconventional physical training," Huenink said. "Last March, the Army published the Physical Readiness Training Program manual, which had a lot of updates that we've incorporated in our instruction."
The training strays away from traditional exercises that require specific equipment and revolves around using what is available to Guardsmen in their garage, armories, motor pool or on their bases while deployed.
"That's why it works great for Soldiers," Huenink said. "When I was deployed to Afghanistan last year, we threw together our own gym based on our own principles. It also works for Guard Soldiers when they're at home. A lot of them don't have access to a gym, so they can build a home gym in their garage."
Items used include old tractor tires, sledgehammers, medicine balls, fitness balls and sand bags. The course also includes instruction on nutrition and calorie counting.
1st Lt. Adam Von Allmen, rear detachment commander for the 1137th Military Police Company, in Kennett, said he took the course to find ways to help his unit improve its fitness level.
"I want to use this course as a tool to help my Soldiers out," said Von Allmen, who lives in West Plains, Mo. "I've learned some interesting facts about nutrition that I previously did not have a full understanding of. I've also learned several different exercise techniques that I can bring back to my unit without having to have formalized equipment."
Huenink said there are five additional Unit Fitness Coordinator Courses scheduled for fiscal year 2012 with open slots available.
"The goal for Missouri is to have two unit fitness coordinators in each company across the state," Huenink said. "That's a pretty good dispersion with the average company having 120 Soldiers."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, visit www.moguard.com.