Exercise physiologist wants to enhance PTL program

  • Published
  • By Steve Hoffmann
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
Al Ciampa is Keesler's new exercise physiologist and is trained to prescribe exercise regimens based on fitness assessments. Some have medical conditions -- cardiac patients, pulmonary patients, diabetics -- that require obvious and specific prescriptions.

But when it comes to physical training requirements for active duty military, the prescriptions are more subtle. Often they are designed to tweak certain muscular-skeletal conditions such as inflexibility, muscle imbalances, etc. It takes a trained eye to spot the problem and time for the prescriptions to work.

But since Ciampa is one man with only two eyes, he can't be everywhere to spot every problem with anyone engaged in PT. That's the job of the PT leader. Ciampa has a plan to revise the PTL training program in such a way that the PTL will be able to see what Ciampa sees and be able to make proper corrections.

"As it is now, the PTL training program is a oneday course that's very selfeducative," said Ciampa. "If the PTL's don't get out and get in front of groups, do the research or go to the websites I show them, it's not going to sink in."

Ciampa's solution is to implement a 7-9 week course that trains the trainer. In this course, PTL's will be able to see basic bio-mechanical corrections take effect in themselves and in the other members of the class. Ciampa's strategy is that by PTL's being exposed to the repetitiveness of seeing these corrections and spotting and correcting others, they'll be better equipped to lead an exercise program having experienced the effect of these correction in themselves and others.

"The basis of the course is basic human movement and being exposed to what's proper and learning how to spot proper and correct proper," said Ciampa. "It takes six to eight weeks for the muscles to adapt to these corrections. A one-day class doesn't allow a PTL to see corrections take effect. You can't even see what's wrong in one day."

At the end of the course, a potential PTL will be tested on their ability to spot and make good corrections on people who haven't been exposed to the course.

"I want to see the good corrections. If they can't make the good corrections after 9 weeks, then they're not going to graduate," said Ciampa.

"They'll still be PTL certified but there are going to be master PTL's who come out of this who will be able to provide oversight."

Ciampa also wants to incorporate some components of extreme fitness into the PT workouts.

"There's been some reluctance in the Air Force to do this because of increased chance for injury," said Ciampa. "But most of these injuries are from bad posture and inflexibility but can be mitigated through proper instruction and coaching."

Ciampa has been involved in sports and coaching since he was 15 years old. He's been active in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting. Before coming to Keesler, Ciampa was involved in the fitness assessment program at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

Before that he ran a fitness and personal training business in Washington State and had contracts with the Army and Air Force. He also served in the Army where he was first exposed to the "train the trainer" philosophy.

"I've seen what doesn't work," said Ciampa. "But more importantly, I've seen what a course like this can do for student at the end of it."