Kinesiology professor shares plan for army physical fitness schedule


In August, Katie Heinrich, assistant professor of kinesiology and K-State’s principal investigator, received a $2.52 million grant to conduct research on how the U.S. Army conducts physical fitness training.

Walker Poston, principal investigator at the National Defense Research Institute out of Leawood, Kansas, said he will be working with Heinrich on the study.

Their goal is to test different methods of fitness that will make the military better with a program that keeps soldiers interested, according to Poston.

“That’s always the problem with an exercise program,” Poston said. “Everybody will try a fitness program, but how many stick with it?”

To conduct the study, Heinrich said the investigative team will measure a variety of health outcomes and facilitate surveys to see if the participants enjoyed the training.

On Friday, Heinrich said the team will meet and start finalizing the protocols of the study and the recruitment of participants.

“We’ll pilot test the program with a small group of soldiers,” Heinrich said. “Then we’ll roll out the full program, where we recruit people for nine months at a time.”

Heinrich said the team has a budget they’ve developed around the grant. It includes funding for supplies, equipment and publication costs. The budget also includes funding for the team conducting the study, which will include the investigators, a field coordinator, graduate research assistants and undergraduate students to work on the program.

“We have funding to pay undergraduates to help us, which is really exciting,” Heinrich said.

Craig Harms, head of the kinesiology department, said he likes the team Heinrich assembled.

“She has put together a a very nice team, not just out at K-State but also out in Kansas City and also out at Fort Leavenworth,” Harms said.

Heinrich said the full study will begin with baseline testing on the participants, who will complete six months of the program and retesting. Finally, the participants will be allowed to workout however they want for the following three months.

After that, the participants will be tested at the nine-month mark to determine the longevity of the effects, Heinrich said. It will be at least 2015 before the full program is unveiled.

This study will only take place at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, according to Heinrich. There are two primary reasons for this: a CrossFit gym already exists on Fort Leavenworth and the Army’s Command General Staff College – where many high-ranking military officers from various service branches pursue graduate degrees – is also there.

“Those individuals are going to go out and be the leaders in the military, so they’ll have a really big voice and be able to help us,” Heinrich said. “If this type of training program proves to be very successful, we’ll have a lot of support in the upper ranks for it, and there’s a lot to be said for that.”

However, Heinrich said lower ranking military members will also be recruited for the study, which will run from 2015-19 – just not necessarily in the same volumes.

“We will also still recruit from enlisted troops as well that are on-post at Fort Leavenworth, but working with the (Command General Staff College) is the real reason why we’re working with Fort Leavenworth,” Heinrich said. “Nothing against Fort Riley, it’s just worked out better there.”

Heinrich said she is excited for the study because she is very passionate about high-intensity physical fitness, as she has seen amazing results from consistent effort. She also said she sees this as an opportunity to help make a difference in the military.

“The ability to make an impact among our national security forces, the army and the people from the sister services that end up being part of the program, it’s really exciting to be able to potentially make a really big difference,” Heinrich said. “If this goes well and we get really good data, that the army could adopt this training program army-wide.”

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.