The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


Cooper Institute Teaches Military Exercise Course

Roger Reynolds, director of contact relations at the Cooper institute, discusses proper form while running to a group of physical training leaders during a military exercise leader course Oct. 24.

by Airman 1st Class Robby Hedrick
75 Air Base Wing Public Affairs

10/27/2008 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The Cooper Institute, a non-profit research and education organization, came to Hill Air Force Base to teach a military exercise leader course to 50 physical training leaders, Health and Wellness Center employees, and others in charge of conditioning Airman, Oct. 21-24. 

The MEL course provides information designed to develop leadership and technical skills to those who lead group exercise programs in a safe and effective manner. The instruction offers group leaders a range of freedom with their exercises by having the ability to allow exercise to be performed indoors and outdoors, with and without equipment, in squadron training or in deployed environments. 

This course varied from the traditional PTL course by increasing the total amount of time participants are exposed to material and an array of qualified instructors from various degrees such as medical doctors, exercise physiologists and masters of science teaching the course with the most recent information available. 

"It's like a one-two punch. One being the military PTL course and two being Coopers," said Roger Reynolds, director of contact relations at Cooper Institute. "The military provides the physical base and Cooper brings in the academics."
In addition to training the fitness leaders, Cooper hopes to change the culture and influence the lifestyle of the Air Force. 

"We are trying to change the culture through leadership by giving the Air Force and Air Force community a better lifestyle and way of life," said Mr. Reynolds. "It's not just about a yearly fitness assessment but a lifestyle." 

The Cooper institute agreed that the Air Force already has a good system in place with great people. The institute brings evidence based material to already trained instructors that enables them to produce a better product. 

The course was designed around the needs of the Air Force and those needs were brought to a research group in Langley, Va. Through research Cooper determined the academics were there but the leadership aspect was lacking. 

"We bring Coopers credibility with the military experience and fuse them together to provide the best product," said. Mr. Reynolds. "By bringing a more academic approach and improving the teaching skills of those leading physical training sessions provides the best blend of both worlds." 

The inclusion of more leadership skills to those who lead others during training sessions promotes a stronger adherence to a fitness regimen. If there is a stronger adherence it is more likely that the fitness behavior will carry over to other aspects of people's lives. 

"Measure of success is adherence," said Mr. Reynolds. "The greatest influence to success is leadership." 

Although the Air Force uses the sports approach to fitness, that model only applies to a small portion of the military. The implementation of the Cooper program hopes to target the other group through educated and trained leaders to inspire fitness to carry over outside of mandatory PT sessions. This way individuals can sustain fitness levels whether they are deployed or at home. 

"Those motivated individuals can take physical activity beyond the gym and into their homes to influence their friends and families," said Mr. Reynolds. "We want to the extend the mantra from 'Fit to Fight' to 'Fit to Fight and Fit to Live.'"