Thursday, December 18, 2008

Soldiers lead physical training for the first time

They resemble the quintessential female athletes of this generation. Their bodies are well-proportioned, seemingly transported from Hellenistic Greek times. Their robust, trim, chiseled frames inspire both awe and admiration. Leading the unit in an Army Physical Training session, no problem, right?

“I was kind of scared,” said Pfc. Laura L. Johnson.

“I felt overwhelmed,” said Spc. Ashley M. Anderson.

Anderson and Johnson both came from athletic backgrounds prior to joining the Army. Anderson was a varsity athlete in three sports in high school and played volleyball in college. Johnson is a former kickboxing champion accustomed to grappling and weight-training. Both have recently been selected for leading Army PT for the first time.

Johnson counted on the support and guidance of Staff Sgt. Peter A. Ford for her first leadership PT session.

“Sgt. Ford helped prepare me”, Johnson said. “We went through the manuals together online to make sure the session was done correctly.”

For Johnson, there is no substitute for being in front of this formation. In the 211th, she is the most junior soldier deploying with the unit. She said there is plenty of anxiety leading a formation, but it is even more amplified when everyone outranks you.

Anderson was assisted by Staff Sgt. Mark C. Burrell for her first leadership PT session. He had her read a one-hundred page physical fitness manual in order to prepare. She said that once she realized the expectations, she was comfortable with the task.

“I wanted to make sure I got all the commands right,” Anderson said. “I wanted to run a well-organized session and prove to the rest of the group that I could lead PT.”

Interestingly, both Anderson and Johnson did something special for their first time leadership PT sessions. They were innovators, trying to keep the unit involved and enthusiastic through a muscle-strength fitness training regiment.

Johnson used circle training to take the group through grass drills and guerilla drills. Both drills focus on mobility and flexibility and take Soldiers through a series of exercises. Later, she incorporated relays into the session. It was a success. According to Ford, there were many in the unit who felt proud of Johnson, yet were too tired to express their true feelings.

Anderson carefully planned a workout session using station circuit training where Soldiers exercised for two minutes and then moved on to the next station. She explained each exercise and labeled them on the field so that Soldiers would know what to do. According to Burrell, her session went extraordinarily well. Soldiers felt the pain of working different muscle groups and none of them suffered any ant bites.

Anderson and Johnson have expressed confidence in knowing the commands for all the warm-up exercises, stretches and calisthenics and are eagerly anticipating their next PT assignment. They said that they are feeling like established veterans when it comes to leading PT.

According to Burrell and Ford, both Anderson and Johnson have done a solid job in their PT leadership roles.

Anderson and Johnson are used to sculpting their bodies like fine-tuned machines. As leaders of PT, they are helping Soldiers see how a well-oiled machine operates. This development in their lives is a big change from their past athletic achievements.

“It’s organized exercise and there’s no real competition,” Anderson said.

“I’m used to doing training barefoot,” Johnson said.

The 211th has a PT test Saturday December 20th. Best of luck to all who are participating and don’t forget to thank Anderson and Johnson for the motivation.

1 comment:

1SG Martinez said...

Great job SPC Alperin. Your transisitons have improved and the story is much more fluid than your last story. Good improvement. Keep it up.