If you take part in PT lessons, and think that you could do it better, then give it a go! If you have a desire to help train your colleagues, get involved in the physical P&RT side of Army life, or improve your chances of promotion, then give the PTI course a thought!
While the PTI course is physically demanding, it is by no means ridiculously hard. A base level of fitness is required, which is slightly higher than that needed to pass your MATT 2 (or whatever it’s being called this year). The current standards required for the PTI course are:
Press-ups: 50. While this may sound fairly simple, bear in mind that every potential PTI will be tested on the first day (or first few days) of the course, and each candidate has a PT Corps, or potential PT Corps student, assessing their repetitions. You must perform each repetition in a textbook fashion, including having your arms directly underneath your shoulders, a 90 degree bend in the arm, and keeping your head up. If you do not carry out the exercises correctly, they will not count, and you will have wasted valuable energy. This is probably one of the toughest in-tests on course, and the one in which a large number fail.
Sit-ups: 60. Again, a fairly easy number to reach, however each repetition must be performed perfectly, which your hands crossed across your chest, fingers in the clavicles. If you ‘bounce’, or remove your hands from your chest, again, the exercises will not count. Remember to keep breathing as you carry out the exercises, which may sound bone, but a lot of people forget!
Run: 9 mins 30 secs. If you’ve been put forward for the PTI course, it’s probably because you meet, are likely to be able to meet, or exceed the standards required. You shouldn’t have too much of a problem attaining this time, if you do have problems then speak to one of your unit PTIs who will be able to offer assistance and/or extra training. Remember to pace yourself, as you would with any PFT, don’t try and race the front-runners (unless you ARE the front-runner!), as, inevitably, you will be competing with some horrendously fit people. For example, I came close to the back of my in-test run, with a time of 8.39.
Combat Fitness Test (CFT): 8 miles, 2 hours, 25 kg (squadded) Again, a lot of people found this difficult on our course because it was a lot harder to pace yourself. As with all the tests, it will be carried out by the directing staff (DS), and while there are a lot of rumours flying around that it’s a shorter time, or a longer distance, it will be a proper CFT. The night before, make sure you take on plenty of fluid, and keep hydrating up until the event itself. I recommend taking a Camelback, as this is an invaluable piece of equipment for any CFT. Make sure you stay with the main pack, and don’t drop back, or you will be failed, and have to re-do the test.
Military Swim Test (MST): For the majority of people, this shouldn’t present too much of a problem, however there are a few people who find it difficult, whether their problem be physiological (not built for swimming), psychological (afraid of swimming), or lack of ability (can’t swim). Try and get some pool-time before you attempt your course. The test consists of (off the top of my head), 200m of lane swimming, 2 minutes treading water and an unassisted exit from the pool.
To the best of my knowledge, if you fail any of these tests, you will have another attempt before you are RTU’d. However, if you fail to reach MATT 2 standard (i.e. less than 44 press-ups, or less than 50 sit-ups), you will be RTU’d on the first day.
Before the Course:
Before you attend the course, there are a few things which I highly recommend you do.
Make sure you have a good-fitting, and comfortable pair of boots and trainers. I cannot stress this enough, suffering blisters will severely hamper your efforts on the course. While injury in itself is not a barrier to passing the course, if you fail to pass any of the mandatory tests, or fail to take part in a set number of lessons you face the risk of being RTU’d.
Have a good look at your webbing and/or Bergen. They need to fit comfortably and not rub. If this means speaking to the more experienced members of your Troop/Squadron/Company/Regiment, then it’s a good excuse to learn a bit of green skills as well. If you’re really keen (or sad, like I was), prepare gravel weights (gravel in plastic bags, wrapped up with tape), which can be inserted into webbing pouches to make up required weight. I recommend 4 x 5 kilo weights, as you will need this weight for your RMTs.
Pick up/borrow a cheap laptop. You might be required to run one of the weekly section/flag competitions, for this you will need to make a scoreboard, which is MUCH easier on Powerpoint, or something similar. Spending 5 pounds or so at your local reprographic shop will give you a scoreboard that looks professional. Scoreboards are an integral part of the competition, and you can fail your entire lesson on them, so put the time in to make them stand out. The DS may impose a ‘no-IT’ rule on your, in which case taking a case full of plastic numbers/ribbons may be in your interest.
In a similar vein, pre-made exercise cards can also be useful. Most gyms tend to have these lying around, so copy them, laminate them and take them with you.
Importantly, try and source a few sets of issue PT kit. I’m not sure about the rules this year, but we were allowed to bring our own trainers. You will also need a pair of plain white trainers, whether or not you buy some pure white ones, get some issued, or get some mostly white ones and tippex them, you will need these for inspections/your lessons. Don’t forget extra tippex!
On the Course:
So, you’ve arrived at Aldershot/Sennelager, and you start tomorrow. Make sure you get plenty of sleep throughout the course, you will be doing around 6-8 sessions of physical training a day, and your body needs as much time to recover as possible. That’s not to say don’t go out and have a few beers in Cheeks, however, it is in YOUR interest not to kick the arrse out of it.
Likewise training, though the more ‘body beautiful’ amongst you may need your daily dose of weight-training, you might find it beneficial to lay off the training until the end of the course, your body will already be under a great deal of strain with the amount of exercise you’ll be doing.
If you do find you pick up an injury, or think you are developing one, bring it to the attention of the DS immediately. Carrying on with an injury can make it worse, potentially putting you out of action permanently. As long as your injury is not too severe, you will be put on the sick (there is no stigma attached to this at the PT school), and allowed to observe lessons, but not take part. Use the time to recover, and get yourself back to fighting fitness.
When you start to take lessons, play the game. Talking during warm-ups/cooldowns, or messing around during the lesson will reflect badly on your colleague who is acting as the IC for that lesson. If you cause them to fail their lesson, they might do the same during yours!
Revise! A&P is not an easy subject, nor is PT theory, so make sure you crack the books. Whether this is with a group of your course-mates in your room, or by yourself, it all helps. Failing your tests can lead to you being RTU’d up till the last week, something which nobody wants.
When it comes to planning your lessons, try and steer away from ‘stick 12 mats out, arms/abs/legs’. As well as being unoriginal, people will get bored during the lesson. When planning a lesson, think of what YOU would find fun, and try and build it around that. Even if it’s something like playing cheesy music, wearing fancy dress, or giving your lesson a theme (for example a James Bond or Indiana Jones lesson).
Ensure you iron your kit. While this may sound like a given, you’d be surprised at the amount of people who turn up with unironed PT kit. Unironed kit will be seen as a lack of discipline, and a lack of discipline requires extra training, which results in … pain.
Don’t try and beast your course-mates, this will only lead to a vicious cycle. Trust me.
Finally, enjoy the course. It’s 10 weeks of slight hardship and pain, but you will look back on it when you’re wearing your red-belt and find that you enjoyed it. Being a PTI is about setting an example, being approachable, not some fearsome monster in a vest. You are there to ensure that your peers receive the best training possible, there will be times when you, as the newly qualified Pte/LCpl/Cpl have to decide on the training programme for your entire Squadron/Company. You will be the man/woman out at the front of runs, encouraging people who don’t usually enjoy physical training to have fun. Remember that you should be what they look up to, able to carry out training in any weather, under any circumstances, and still be the best.