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Commentary | April 25, 2013

Physical fitness is an individual, unit responsibility

By Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight USARAK command sergeant major

Maintaining Army physical training standards is both an individual and a unit responsibility

We put PT on the training calendar five days a week, in accordance with the U.S. Army Alaska commanding general's guidance - but it only succeeds when leaders execute a strong plan and Soldiers understand their responsibility to stay fit.

PT is important to me, and it's important to the command we do it five days a week.
It's our responsibility as noncommissioned officers to train Soldiers in physical fitness, so we've got to be fit ourselves. Young leaders, I encourage you to stay in shape, get out of the barracks, do something productive that's healthy and physical.

If noncommissioned officers don't want other people taking charge of their Soldiers' physical fitness, they must have a good plan and go forth with it.

Platoon leaders need to make sure they have a good plan. Platoon sergeants and squad leaders need to execute it.

You need to do an assessment - I suggest taking a monthly diagnostic PT test to assess yourself on whether the PT you're doing is making a difference. See where you are and adjust your plan accordingly.

Look at the training calendar and make sure you're putting the right PT on it. We've got to conduct some good, hard PT that is going to make a difference for us.

Yes, PT has to be challenging; but it should also be fun and it's got to be interesting. Doing the same thing every day sometimes gets old. It's good to shake it up with something different from time to time. If the plan you've got is working, keep it. But throw something in there once in a while to add some variety.

Make sure your plan progresses so you're not burning people out. Don't do so much PT on Monday that on Tuesday they can't get up and do PT.

Most importantly, you've got to stick with it. As a first sergeant, I prided myself on the fact that only four times in a two-year period did we skip PT to do something else while in garrison - no "zonks," no layouts, no maintenance.

If you have extra maintenance or layouts that can't be done during the business day, then you go into the evening, but you don't skip PT. If you have to move something on the calendar, it shouldn't be PT.

PT and nutrition
You can't say "PT" without thinking about nutrition. A good dietary plan needs to be at the heart of your individual fitness.

The formula is pretty simple: Don't take in any more calories than you can burn in a day.
My philosophy is: you want me to eat that burger? That's a five-mile run. You want me to eat that pie? That's five more miles.

If you tie miles to your excessive eating habits, you'll quickly slow down on the overeating.

As a Soldier it's important you get a balanced diet you can live with for life. If you start with good eating habits now, you're going to be a lot better off. When you add PT you're going to be whole lot more fit.

You don't go on a diet just to lose weight. You go on a diet to stay healthy. The diet isn't something you're just going to do for a week or two weeks. When you restructure your diet, you determine the way you're going to eat every day for the rest of your

And remember, we have outstanding facilities in USARAK - four fitness facilities on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and two on Fort Wainwright, not to mention all the outdoor activities Alaska is famous for. There are plenty of fitness opportunities out there - you've just got to use them.

Arctic Warriors! Arctic Tough!