Now that I'm two weeks away from my first anniversary in the Air Force, I thought I might take the time to describe to you some of my experiences. It's easier to do it in little chunks, than it is to try to tell you everything at one. So, today I bring you...
PT...the 10th circle of hell!
Ok, maybe I'm kidding, although it is a shock to the system when you first get there! Wake-ups at BMT were officially at 0445, when reveille played. Typically, trainees were up long before that, getting their hair done (there was no time to do it later), putting on sneakers, and strapping on our running belts if it was a running day. We live in fear in the mornings, that it would be the day that we got an early inspection, what they call a "Non-Duty" (probably "non-duty hours"). If the clock reached 0430 and there wasn't a key coming into our dorm, unannounced, we were safe. MTIs have morning meetings at 0430, so they were tied up by then. If an MTI came in for a non-duty and you were up and walking around, let alone with your hair done and ready to go, there'd be hell to pay.
I typically slept in full PT gear - socks, spandex, shorts, shirt, ID holder around my neck, and usually with extra 341s in my pocket already (more on them later). In the morning, all I'd have to do was throw my hair up into a bun, put my money list in my pocket, put on my shoes, and grab my flashlight and running belt. Meanwhile, if you were ready to go, you should've been making your bed already, since time would be limited after PT.
MTIs couldn't tell us to come down for PT too early, or else they'd catch hell from their supervisors about not giving us the required amount of sleep (that was a joke, to say the least - we didn't get much sleep). At 0448, our MTI would be on the intercom telling us, "Let's go, let's go, let's go - get down there!" [Lots more after the jump!]
As the Dorm Chief, I'd be the last person to leave, as it was my responsibility to see that everyone got out. The guideon bearer would be the first person out, and the group of us would yell "FIRST TRAINEE OUT," with the appropriate echo as they left. Once they got out of the foyer, it was "GUIDEON IN THE STAIRWELL," always echoing.
Trainees would hustle downstairs and stand at the dots, prepared to be called to attention and have the flight sized. Our MTI would be right there as we came down the stairwell, yelling at us to hurry up. I wouldn't typically size us in the morning, since we were always in a rush to get to the PT pad first. Needless to say, this was not a leisurely wakeup. You were always moving with a "sense of urgency."
|Ah, the PT pad! [Source]|
Now, before you poo-poo my thoughts here since this is only Air Force BMT and not the Army or the Marine Corps, I challenge you to give it a go if you're not a service member yourself. Demanding physical training on little sleep in a stressful environment is never fun. Working out is a lot easier when you're not being yelled at or demeaned during the process.
Here's a quick rundown of each day. I still do the warm-up and cool down for the running days when I'm running on my own.
Warm Up - Dynamic Stretches
- Arm Rotations
- Torso Twists
- Knee Lifts
- Knee to Chest
- Leg Over
- Knee Over
- Timed Run - 15 minutes at a 2:15 min/lap pace.
- Self-Paced Run - 10 minutes. It says "self-paced," but you still have MTIs yelling at you to hustle.
- Brisk Walk - 1 min, and don't you dare put your hands on your hips!
- Interval Sprints - 6 30-second sprints, alternated with 30 seconds of brisk walking. War cry time!
Cool Down - Static Stretches
- Upper Back
- Side Bend
Strength days were painful. Running I can handle, strength, not so much! They start you out with a minimal number of reps (always in 2-3 sets), which keep building week by week, until you graduate.
- Push-ups - Eventually, you were able to get away with the modified push-ups on your knees, but don't get used to that, since they're not allowed in PT tests.
- Arm Rotations
- Partial Squats
- Knee Lifts
- Squat Thrusts - Holy Moses...
- Arm Rotations
- Cross-Knee Crunches
- Pyramid Push-ups - Shoot me now, these are the worst!
- Leg Lefts
- Knee Overs
Tests are done on the Mondays of weeks 1, 4, and 7. Week 7 is the biggie, since it's your final PT test. Failing your PT test during week 4 can get you recycled (held back, sent to another flight to repeat training), I've seen it happen.
All throughout those exercises, you're sounding off. We would count off beats through squadron chants - "3 - 2 - 4 - KNIGHTS!" "Check out these Knights!" "Ready for Battle!" "One sir! Two sir! Three sir!" Don't even think about hesitating to jump up or jump down when you're supposed to be standing or lying down. The more you look like you're trying and you're motivated, the less the MTIs will bother you. If you're a high profile trainee - a leader or a known troublemaker - they're going to find you. Luckily, they taper off a bit as you advance in the weeks of training. We tried to get away with as much as we could when they weren't looking. During week 1, they swarm around you and sluggishness from one exercise to the next makes everyone hold their positions until the MTI in charge of calling the exercises thinks they're ready/motivated to move on.
Did I mention that you shouldn't dare try to make casual conversation during these workouts? Keep your mouth shut, unless you're sounding off. Ignore the attempts of others to chit chat, lest the MTIs will hear you and be all over your ass.
Ok, on that pleasant note, I'm done describing most of my PT experience! It's possible for you to be put on a waiver, if you're ill or injured. We had our fair share of people who seemed like they were on waivers the entire time. NOT a good idea, trust me. Suck it up and do it. I was sick during my 6th week of training, but I didn't bother to go into the clinic until after my 7th week PT eval. I didn't want anything to jeopardize getting out of there on time. It worked in my favor - I got to enjoy some leisurely runs at my own pace on run days in those last weeks of training.
Hope you've enjoyed reading all of this nonsense! If you've got any questions, don't hesitate, especially if you're considering enlistment. It was well worth the effort - a boot camp workout at its purest form! I came out of BMT looking great!