Forced by budget cuts to eliminate exercise physiologists whose job was to train airmen who lead group workouts, the Air Force is taking a new training tack: video.
A new 11-minute video is now mandatory for unit physical training leaders who lead group PT.
With the Air Force getting rid of its exercise physiologists, the service has made a video to help train airmen who lead group workouts, said Col. John Oh, of the Air Force Medical Support Agency.
In June, the Air Force announced that budget cuts had forced the service to eliminate exercise physiologists, whose role has been to train airmen who lead group PT – known as unit physical training leaders.
"It's a very challenging environment that we're dealing with in terms of our overall budget," Col. John Oh, of the Air Force Medical Support Agency, told Air Force Times on Thursday, referring to the June decision to eliminate the jobs of exercise physiologists..
Now the roughly 11-minute video is mandatory for unit physical training leaders,Oh said. Airmen need to use their Common Access Cards to access the video through the Advanced Distance Learning System
"I think we have to have realistic expectations," Oh said. "Obviously in 11 minutes, we are not going to turn our PTLs that lead group PT into black belt fitness instructors. It's not designed for that. It's really just to illustrate: Hey, here are some of the principles of safe and effective physical activity … these are some of the things you should do that can help mitigate any potential harm or injury."
The video is not publicly available. Airmen need to use their Common Access Cards to access the video through the Advanced Distance Learning System.
The video is not the only training that physical training leaders get before conducting group PT, Oh explained. Before they can lead group PT, they must complete basic physical training leader training, in which they learn how to administer the physical fitness test and get certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
After they learn the basics, they either volunteer or are selected to lead group PT, he said.
"While they may not be coming in with a lot of background in fitness … the commander is not going to appoint someone who is not already fit," Oh said. "So they're usually already scoring excellent on their fitness test. They're usually someone who is pretty motivated as well."
In the video, two instructors show the proper order to do exercises and they demonstrate the exercises themselves, but there is no narration about what the proper form is while doing the exercises that can be open to interpretation, such as pushups.
That is in part because there is no one right way to do a pushup, said Deena Ellin, chief of health promotion for Air Force Space Command and the Air Force Surgeon General's fitness consultant.
"Where the hands are placed and how far you come down … there's no standardized [method] for that – If you're going to do a wide pushup or a narrow grip or a diamond," Ellin said. "So there are different varieties of pushups."
The Air Force goes into detail about how to do the exercises safely in a training manual that accompanies the video, Ellin said.
"Our population is – as we would expect – at a little bit higher fitness level," she said. "They have unit PT; they've been training; so we expect, I guess, a certain base level of expertise for them already. The exercises we've picked are very basic. We researched them. They incorporate upper, core and lower body [exercises]. For our population, we deem them to be very safe to conduct."