GREAT LAKES, IL -- In line with the Navy’s new culture of fitness, which aims to heighten standards and promote healthier choices, more than 600 students in the Apprentice Technical Training (ATT) course at the Center for Surface Combat Systems (CSCS) Learning Site, Great Lakes, IL, started a new physical training (PT) program.

The program, which was launched at Recruit Training Command (RTC) more than a year ago, focuses on strength and conditioning. Students no longer have to worry about being in step or doing pushups in unison because the focus is on the individual not the group, taking into account varying endurance and fitness levels across the board.

“It’s a different style and it’s a different mentality,” said Chief Fire Controlman Robert Gomez, ATT staff leading chief petty officer. "They're not in step, they’re not calling cadence; it’s based on their individual efforts."

Chief Hull Maintenance Technician David Robison, RTC PT director, who was involved in the implementation of the program, said, “Starting at RTC, what we’re trying to do is build a standardized fitness program that will carry over to the schoolhouses as part of the new culture of fitness.”

Electronics Technician 1st Class Daniel McConnaughay, an ATT instructor who also leads the new PT program, said the previous PT regimen was more general and did not follow a set plan. “We didn’t have a set schedule of how PT was going to be done, whereas now the program is standardized,” he said. “It’s been working at RTC, so we expect it will work here.”

Students attest to the benefits. Seaman Apprentice Erynn Morris said the new PT program has helped her improve her run time by two and a half minutes.

“It helps with all parts of our physical fitness assessment (PFA)," she said. "I couldn’t do one pushup when I arrived at boot camp, and now I can do 40.”

Unlike the old PT program, ATT students participate in the training for one hour, five days a week, as opposed to three days a week, alternating between strength and conditioning, and endurance workouts. The new program is also intended to minimize the risk of injury through lower impact exercises that build strength and resilience. The program runs for six days a week at RTC.

“One day they’re going to have an aerobic conditioning day, the next day it’s going to be strength and conditioning, and it alternates between those two,” said Machinist's Mate 1st Class Mike Nisbet, RTC PT liaison, who is a certified fitness trainer and helped in qualifying 30 ATT staff members and eight Training Support Center staff members in leading the new PT program. “The aerobic activities might be a sustained run for a set period of time or what we call speed and sprinting drills, and then we have the lower impact exercises that focus on strength.”

Seaman Apprentice Kyle Marthiljohni, also a student at ATT, said the program helped him improve his run time and get in shape by dropping close to 20 pounds. Marthiljohni, who started boot camp Feb. 21, said he struggled to complete the PFA run when he first attempted it at RTC and now can accomplish the one-and-a-half-mile distance in 11 minutes and 30 seconds.

“That’s pretty impressive to me because I’ve never been a runner,” he said.