Working as an Army physical training instructor
Corporal Mark Jones is a physical training instructor (PTI) with the Parachute regiment. He is responsible for making sure all the paratroopers in the regiment maintain their fitness levels at all times.
When did you join the Parachute regiment?
I went on an insight scheme for the Paras, which gave me a 24-hour look at life in the Regiment. I was pretty certain I wanted to join the Army. The Paras seemed to offer what I wanted so I enrolled straightaway.
What training did you do?
I was one of 54 entrants to the 26-week initial course. Not everyone got through. Obviously you need to be physically fit for that sort of training, but it's more important to be mentally tough. That's what gets you through. And the other people, of course, we rely on each other especially out in the field on exercise.
After that we did our parachute training. Those who pass get their red beret. That was the proudest moment of my life so far. It felt like a real achievement.
What happened after your initial training?
I joined my battalion as part of the rifle company. The training became more arduous and included live firing. We also did a lot of fitness and endurance training such as 20-mile marches carrying over 50kg of equipment plus our weapons. We have to train over all kinds of terrain – mountains, jungle and so on – we need to be ready to go anywhere.
Some of the training was overseas, including four to five months of jungle training in Belize. It was hard work but we were well rewarded and had a week off in Mexico at the end. After serving in the regiment I decided to train further to become a physical training instructor.
How did you become a PTI?
I had to be selected and pass the fitness test and then I had to wait for a place on the course. Now, I am responsible for taking PT lessons in the battalion. The Army sets fitness tests and each person has to pass.
How would you describe your day?
I start at 7.00 a.m. taking remedial PT with people who have failed a fitness test or who are recovering from injury. They have an individual fitness programme. In the morning I take lessons for different groups in the battalion and go through my own personal fitness routine. At the end of the morning, I clean the gym and tidy up the equipment. After lunch I may lead a weighted march and prepare personal fitness programmes for individuals.
Most days I finish at 4.30 p.m., but one day in four I am on duty at the gym until 9.00 p.m. This means I don't have to do any other Regimental duties like being on guard.
Where do you hope to go next?
I would like to work in an Army Training Regiment.
- Try to get a glimpse of military life before committing yourself.
Becoming a PT instructor
- There is no direct entry into the Army as a PT instructor. You can only apply to train after serving in a unit for a few months.
- If your application is successful, you will undertake a specialist course and qualify as a Regimental PT instructor.
- The qualities required are physical strength and endurance, co-ordination and teamwork, leadership and communication skills.
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