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Arnold School of Public Health


S.C. National Guard conducts pilot fitness program with University of South Carolina Department of Exercise Science

July 2, 2015

The below story was written by Capt. Brian Hare and is republished here from the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System.

The South Carolina National Guard's Health Promotion Office conducted a pilot fitness program in partnership with students and instructors from the University of South Carolina Department of Exercise Science and K.O.R.E. Wellness in Columbia, South Carolina, May 19 - June 19, 2015. The five-week program was established to assist South Carolina National Guard service members with making improvements to their health and physical readiness.

During the program, South Carolina National Guard service member participants attended three weekly training sessions, two of which were held at the K.O.R.E. Wellness facility and the third at the USC athletic track.

USC Exercise Science students, under the guidance of a professional personal trainer, conducted all of the sessions.

Participants were administered a Functional Movement Screening and a standard diagnostic Army Physical Fitness Test at the beginning and end of the program. Before and after testing also included weight and body composition measurements and heart rate and blood pressure readings.

Some of the positive results of the program included an overall increase in the APFT scores for the participants and a decrease in areas such as body weight, body mass index, and diastolic blood pressure.

Darryl Hammond, health promotion officer with the South Carolina National Guard, explained how the pilot program was established.

“Through conversations with USC on programs they had in place, we were able to utilize facilities at K.O.R.E. Wellness in conjunction with students from the USC Exercise Science program. This resulted in us having a pilot program which turned out to be very good process,” said Hammond. “The end result was 14 service members who improved their APFT scores across the board.”

From the perspective of the USC students, the pilot program offered them a chance to get practical experience outside the classroom, according to Dr. Stephen Chen, clinical assistant professor with the University of South Carolina Department of Exercise Science.

“That’s really the main emphasis in exercise science right now, to get those students out in the community to get practical experience and this has been fantastic for them,” said Chen. “We have a group of 14 students and they’ve all done a really good job of mentoring, training and cheering on the service members.”

"The program gave us a chance to work in a professional setting,” said Brandon Mukhalian, one of the USC students that participated in the program. “I enjoyed getting to work with all of the service members, getting to know them and seeing them push themselves throughout the program.” 

“I thought it was one of the best programs I’ve ever been in,” said Pvt. Patrick Austin Stroud, a full-time Soldier with the South Carolina Army National Guard. “I improved in push ups, sit ups, and my run. I knocked two minutes off my run and improved my push ups and sit ups by 10.”

The South Carolina National Guard is planning to continue the program with USC with an eight-week session in the fall.