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This article provides an overview of the United States Air Force (USAF) Physical Training Leader (PTL) course.
2.0 What is a Physical Training Leader?
A Physical Training Leader (PTL) is a unit member trained to lead a unit’s physical training programme that is approved by the unit commander and the fitness programme manager.
3.0 What is the Role of a PTL?
Depending on their level, the role of a PTL is to:
- Deliver physical training to members of the unit; and
- Oversea and administer unit fitness assessments.
4.0 Brief History
In 2004, the positions and training of PTL’s was codified in the then USAF Fitness Programme (AFI 10-248, dated 01 January 2004).
In 2010, the PTL course was revamped to incorporate the then new “Total Fit as a fundamental piece…” (GR&F, 2010, p.34). At the Ramstein Air Base, Germany, the “Group PTL course” was taught by “physical therapists” via a “five-session training course.” (GR&F, 2010, p.34).
PTL’s were assisted by civilian nutritionists and exercise physiologists but, due to budget constraints, these were phased out in 2013 and 2015 respectively (Johnson, 2017).
From 01 July 2010, a new Fitness Assessment Cell (FAC), located in USAF bases, became responsible for testing all active-duty personnel (GR&F, 2010). The FAC is composed of civilian contractors and FAC augmentees (i.e. PTL-B qualified military personnel).
Exercise physiologists had trained PTL’s to lead group workouts. As a consequence, from 01 April 2015, PTL-A training could be completed via online video (Joint Base Andrew Health Promotion, 2015).
5.0 What is the Purpose of the PTL Course?
The PTL course trains selected non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) and commissioned officers in all aspects of the USAF’s total force physical training system so they can lead unit physical training and fitness assessments.
6.0 What are the PTL Levels?
Originally there was just one level of PTL, but since 2013 there has been two levels:
- Physical Training Leader – Basic (PTL-B) are trained to conduct fitness assessments only.
- Physical Training Leader – Advanced (PTL-A) are trained to deliver unit physical training and fitness assessments.
7.0 Where is the PTL Course Delivered?
Depending on their level, the PTL course is delivered by the local Health and Wellness Centre located at each USAF base and/or via online learning.
8.0 Fitness Programme Manager
The Fitness Programme Manager (FPM) overseas administration of a USAF base’s fitness programme, and also trains local PTL’s.
FPM’s provide guidance and approval of group physical training programmes to ensure safety and effectiveness of programmes for unit/squadron commanders, as well as serving as a fitness consultant to unit commanders, first sergeants and supervisors.
FPM’s report to the Fitness and Sports Manager, formerly Fitness Centre Director.
9.0 Unit Fitness Programme Manager
The Unit Fitness Programme Manager (UFPM) is a unit member who:
- Administers the fitness screening questionnaire (FSQ);
- Ensures fitness assessment results are entered into the air force fitness management system II (AFFMS II);
- Is responsible to the commander for the unit fitness programme; and
- Acts as a liaison between the unit commander and the FPM for matters related to the fitness programme.
This is an additional duty and not a primary air force specialty code (AFSC), i.e. not a primary job. Personnel in the role of UFPM should be available for a minimum of one year and must be PTL-B qualified.
Eligibility for the PTL course includes:
- Being appointed by the unit/squadron commander, whether as a volunteer or directed.
- Having completed basic life support which includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training and automated external defibrillator (AED) training.
11.0 USAF Personnel Centre Service Directorate
The USAF Personnel Centre Service Directorate (AFPC/SV) develops and distributes Physical Training Leader-Basic (PTL-B) and Unit Fitness Program Manager (UFPM) training materials in consultation with the USAF Medical Operations Agency (AFMOA).
- Personnel must be PTL-B qualified prior to administering fitness assessments.
- Conduct refresher training as directed.
- Maintain a satisfactory on the fitness assessment.
- A score below 75.0 will see the individual removed as a certified PTL-B.
- Personnel must be PTL-B qualified and have completed certification from the online PTL-A training course.
- “A new 11-minute video is now mandatory for unit physical training leaders who lead group PT.” (Schogol, 2015). There is also a training manual to accompany the video.
- Online training is accessed through the Advanced Distance Learning System (ADLS) via a common access card (CAC). Conduct refresher training as directed.
- Maintain a satisfactory on the fitness assessment.
- A score below 75.0 will see the individual removed as a certified PTL-A.
14.0 Fitness Centre Orientation
All PTL’s are required to attend a thorough fitness centre orientation prior to delivering physical training, and includes group exercise class setup, equipment use, and safety procedures.
PTL’s must attend annual recertification, including BLS and fitness assessment procedures.
16.0 Length of PTL Duty
Personnel appointed as a PTL should be available to accomplish PTL duties for a minimum of one year.
17.0 Air Force Specialty Code
Being a PTL is classed as an additional duty and is not a primary air force specialty code (AFSC), i.e. not a primary job.
18.0 Useful Publications
- Air Force Instructions (AFI):
- AFI 40-501: Air Force Fitness Programme (superseded by AF 10-248) (obsolete).
- AFI 10-248: Fitness Programme (01 January 2004) (obsolete).
- AFI 10-248: Fitness Programme (25 September 2009) (superseded by AFI 36-2905) (obsolete).
- AFI 36-2905: Fitness Programme (21 October 2013) (obsolete).
- AFI 36-2905: Fitness Programme, Incorporating Change 1 (27 August 2015).
- AFI 34-266: The Air Force Fitness and Sport Programme (24 September 2007) (obsolete).
- AFI 34-266: Air Force Fitness and Sports Programmes.
- AFI 40-101: Health Promotion (17 December 2009).
- AFI 40-104: Nutrition Education (obsolete).
- AFI 40-104: Health Promotion Nutrition (04 October 2011).
- Air Force Guidance Memorandum (AFGM):
- AFGM for AFI 36-2905: Fitness Programme (02 August 2013).
- Air Force (AF) Forms:
- AF Form 4446: Air Force Fitness Assessment Scorecard.
- AF Form 108: Physical Fitness Education and Intervention Processing.
GR&F (Government Recreation and Fitness). (2010) Ramstein HAWC Plays Major Role in New Air Forces Fitness Culture. Government Recreation & Fitness. March 2010, pp.30-35. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.ebmpubs.com/grf_pdfs/grf0310_ramsteinhawc.pdf. [Accessed: 12 December, 2018].
Johnson, S. (2017) The Air Force Fitness Program: Promoting Fit-for-Duty and Life, or Fit-to-Test Culture? Master’s Thesis. Air War College, USAF Air University.
Joint Base Andrews Health Promotion. (2015) PTL-A Training. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/120094328077726/posts/effective-1-april-2015-ptl-a-training-may-be-completed-via-on-line-videophysical/850380138382471/. [Accessed: 12 December, 2018].
Schogol, J. (2015) Now On Video: How To Lead Unit PT. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2015/03/07/now-on-video-how-to-lead-unit-pt/. [Accessed: 12 December, 2018].