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View Full Version : Doing S&C for the military


Emily Mattes
05-10-2009, 08:09 AM
Apologize if this is the wrong forum for this.

If you were interested in becoming a top-notch all-around strength and conditioning coach--with knowledge of Strongman, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and all of that--and then developing fitness and training programs for the US military, where would you start?

Would you join the military first? Get a degree and try to build your name (I don't know how one does this, really), then join the military so you can get a real-world idea of its needs? Spend some time training under as many different coaches as possible to absorb all that knowledge and then join the military? Given at the ripe old age of 24 I think I'm a little too old to try the "become a national-level athlete and build your coaching chops on that" route, I'm trying to figure out the best course of action in terms of balancing military service, school, and finding real-world experience.

Steven Low
05-10-2009, 04:23 PM
Best I think would be do it as you go. In the military and maybe volunteer working with the PT aspect (I wouldn't know how to do that though), and then keep absorbing everything training-wise on the side...

I would assume (and maybe it's incorrect) that the military would be more apt to listening to one of their own rather than an outside fitness person trying to get in and advise.

It's possible to become very proficient within a few years, but you have to spend time everyday going over material as well as critical thinking your way through programming and such.

Don Stevenson
05-10-2009, 04:40 PM
I'd start by purchasing a helmet and bashing my head against a wall for a few years to get a feel for what it's like dealing with the military.

The military is a big, slow moving beast with decades of tradition that needs to be overturned before they'll adopt new and innovative training programs.

I spend a lot of time writing fitness programs for military personnel but so far (and i've been at it for a few years) it's always individuals who want to improve their fitness or who want to attend SF selection. I've only once been contacted by a unit and that turned into a whole lot of nothing.

Not wanting to be discouraging but for all their emphasis on fitness I think you'll find working with the military a fairly hard slog!!

Allen Yeh
05-10-2009, 05:58 PM
I'd start by purchasing a helmet and bashing my head against a wall for a few years to get a feel for what it's like dealing with the military.

The military is a big, slow moving beast with decades of tradition that needs to be overturned before they'll adopt new and innovative training programs.



Ditto that.

Emily Mattes
05-10-2009, 06:35 PM
Yeah, I kind of figured that . . . I have been trying to figure out a way to best meld my interest in S&C and my desire to join the military, and I was thinking it would be awesome to be involved in training soldiers.

Problem is, right now I pretty much don't know crap about anything, so I want to figure out some kind of structure towards learning everything I can--like school first, or military first, or school/military, or traveling across the country training with coaches and then military and then school . . . Though I don't know if the military would pay for a degree in Kinesiology or whatever the most helpful education is for S&C coaches.

George Mounce
05-10-2009, 07:06 PM
I actually got scolded for mentioning to a person not really equipped at our base gym for trying to tell people about CrossFit, to hush.

The military is a dangerous place to do anything about fitness. Its centers are run by quacks.

Let the fat people fail, and those who really want to be in shape will find a way outside of what the military provides.

10-year military member saying this...

You can't save everyone, so save yourself first, then people who want to know what you are doing will gravitate towards you.

Oh but to your question Emily, you get paid more if you get the degree first. :p

Parth Shah
05-10-2009, 07:46 PM
Interesting thoughts here. This is probably off-topic, but I do find it interesting how guys like Mike Mahler and Mark Twight are getting contracts to train the military. They are certainly outsiders, but whichever military unit contacted them, they see the value in switching it up a bit. So I think the best thing is to be an expert in something. Stick to one thing and get really really good at it. Knowledge in other aspects of fitness is a good thing as well, obviously, but Mahler was probably contacted because the military wanted to know how to incorporate kettlebells into their fitness program. They wanted to try something new, so they sought out a coach to specialize. Just an idea.

Justin Chebahtah
05-12-2009, 08:39 AM
. . . Though I don't know if the military would pay for a degree in Kinesiology or whatever the most helpful education is for S&C coaches.

Yes they will. You have a couple of options. They hinge on whether or not you wish to be an officer or enlisted and in which order you wish to obtain your education (before, after, or during military service).


You can enlist for varying amounts of time then use your GI Bill upon fulfilling your obligation.
You can attend one of the service academies (west point, annapolis, virginia military institute, etc.)
You can join one of the reserve components such as the national guard and goto school concurrently. However, don't be surprised once you are activated and deployed before you are done with school (this happens, we're at war).
You can join the (Reserve Officer Training Corps) ROTC and use either their scholarship or be in the "simultaneous membership program (SMP)". In SMP you belong to a national guard unit and drill/train with them but as a contracted cadet (you're not deployable with this option). Once you finish your degree you can decided whether or not you wish to commission into the active duty side or stay with the national guard or reserves.

Also depends what branch you want to go into (Army, Marines, Navy, etc.) All branches except the Coast Guard have an ROTC program. I'm not sure how the coast guard works with GI Bill and stuff, I don't know an awful lot about those guys.

Believe it or not, there are even more options than the one's I've listed above. Kinda depends on your goals (not to sound like Steven Low or anything).

FYI, Kinesiology was a pretty popular major among my peers in ROTC.

Since you belong to this site I will make the assumption that you are capable of critical thinking and will investigate these options further. Of course, if you have any questions feel free to PM me or whatever as I am reasonably educated in these matters. If I can't answer one of your questions, I know somebody who can.

Andrew Meador
12-25-2009, 02:57 PM
Just avoid it, honestly. Bad environment if you're looking to have a cultural impact - it's too slow-moving. And they would be more likely to listen to an outsider on fitness than a current or former service member. Don't know why, really. I guess you'd just have to be in the service to understand.

Chris Goodrich
12-30-2009, 02:18 PM
There are very few full time S&C positions in the military. The service academies have them for their sports teams, the Army (and I'm assuming the other services as well) operates a small physical fitness school which develops doctrine and does train-the-trainer type stuff, and there are some positions in SOCOM like Caviston's at NSW. Mostly, however, physical training is a leadership responsibility, and it is an integral but limited part of everyone's job. Most physical training is focused on developing and ,maintaining a very basic level of health and fitness, and does not compare to even serious high school level athletics in terms of S&C. Be realistic about your goals and what you hope to achieve.
That being said, you might look into physical therapy programs through the military. I had a friend who completed a 2-year ROTC scholarship program while getting a Masters in Physical Therapy and as soon as he was commissioned the Army sent him to get another advanced degree in PT. PT is obviously different than S&C, but they are pretty closely related and going that route would give you a marketable degree and a lot of hands on experience if you decide to serve your commitment and then pursue a career in the civilian S&C world. If you do decide to stick it out in the military and attempt to impact training the PT degree and experience would give you a lot of credibility in handling the inevitable medical/safety concerns.
Just some food for thought. Good luck.

Mike Haytack
01-24-2010, 04:00 PM
Yeah, I kind of figured that . . . I have been trying to figure out a way to best meld my interest in S&C and my desire to join the military, and I was thinking it would be awesome to be involved in training soldiers.

Emily-i'm in the AF and work at Biggs Army Airfield (AKA Ft. Bliss TX)--Bliss has a world class SnC/GPP facility, Ironworks Gym. It's the first of it's kind to be placed on a major Army installation. There are more to come all over the world. I can put you in contact with the folks who are responsible for starting it and running it--just PM me.

Yes it is true conditioning is decentralized to the lowest level. I've been in for 16yrs and can tell you more an more leaders are seeing the benefits of basic SnC training(Barbells/Plates/Sprints/Sleds/Tires).

Keep charging, let me know if I can help.

Mike