• From the Field with Austen Collie
    Austen Collie, MS, CSCS, TSAC-F, works for Anautics, a contractor to the U.S. Army. Collie is the lead Army Master Fitness Trainer instructor in his mobile training team. Collie trains Army soldiers on how to properly perform Army Physical Readiness Training as mandated in the FM 7-22 as well exercise science classes such as Skeletal Anatomy, Exercise Physiology, and kinesiology.
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  • From the Field BannerFrom the Field | Austen CollieAusten Collie, MS, CSCS, TSAC-F Austen Collie received his Bachelor’s degree from Texas Tech University in Exercise Science (December 2009) and a Master’s degree in Sport Science and Nutrition from the University of Texas (May 2012). At both schools, he was able to obtain invaluable experience in the training of a myriad of Division 1 NCAA men’s and women’s collegiate teams. In 2012, Collie worked as an intern at the National Strength and Conditioning Association working with both collegiate and tactical athletes. 
     
    Following the end of his internship at the NSCA, he was hired by the Army contracting company, Anautics. He currently trains Army soldiers on how to properly perform Army Physical Readiness Training as mandated in the FM 7-22 as well exercise science classes such as Skeletal Anatomy, Exercise Physiology, and kinesiology. Collie is the lead Army Master Fitness Trainer instructor in his mobile training team. He has also obtained a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) and Tactical Strength and Conditioning-Facilitator (TSAC-F) through the NSCA and is Functional Movement Systems (FMS) certified as well. 
     
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    1. What tactical population do you currently work with?
    Military (U.S. Army)

    2. How did you get started in the TSAC (Tactical Strength and Conditioning) field?  
    I was largely unaware of the tactical strength and conditioning field prior to an internship with the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) in Colorado Springs, CO. Working under Head Tactical Strength and Conditioning Coach and Manager Jason Dudley, I was fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work with a wide range of tactical athletes from different agencies including: 10th Special Forces Group (SFG), 19th SFG, Army, Air Force, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), and police officers.  
     
    My prior experience in the strength and conditioning field was only at the collegiate level (Texas Tech University and the University of Texas). I personally have found working with tactical athletes to be very rewarding because I enjoy helping and working with those who do so much for our country. Towards the end of my internship with the NSCA, Jason Dudley recommended I apply for an Army contract position with a company called Anautics. I have been working for Anautics since January of 2013, conducting the training and execution of the Master Fitness Trainer Course  

    3. What resources do you utilize for continuing education? Are there any resources your recommend staying away from? 
    I utilize the NSCA website, more specifically the online publications (NSCA’s TSAC Report and the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research). I also use Google Scholar and PubMed. The Coaches Conferences and workshops are also highly beneficial when scheduling permits. Resources I avoid include any online or written material without valid references listed. The field of strength and conditioning is not based on feelings or opinions, but rather, science. However, I always try to remain objective about any material I am reading. 

    4. If you where hiring someone in your field, what would you look for?   
    In order of importance: Experience working with tactical populations, education, and nationally recognized certifications such as the Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® (CSCS®) and the Tactical Strength and Conditioning-Facilitator (TSAC-F). Most importantly, a genuine interest in helping the specific tactical population (this is not a normal “8 to 5 job,” you have to be passionate about this field or you won’t have the motivation and capability to put in the time necessary to be successful).
     
    5. Please describe the regular duties included in your position?  
    Train and certify soldiers how to properly perform Army Physical Readiness Training (APFT) in accordance with the FM 7-22. Each course is 20 days in length requiring soldiers to successfully pass three written examinations as well as hands on physical performance assessments in order to obtain the Master Fitness Trainer Certification.  
     
    I also teach soldiers the importance of APFT through exercise science classes such as skeletal and muscle anatomy, exercise physiology, and kinesiology. Additionally, I serve as an administrator of the APFT and the Army Body Composition Program (ABCP). The entrance requirement into the Master Fitness Trainer Course is a score of 80% in all three categories of the APFT, as well as meeting the body composition standards as outlined in Army Regulation 600-9.
     
    6. What are the two most important things you have learned; that you wish you knew when you were starting your career?    
    I wish I would have been able to gain experience working with tactical athletes sooner than I did. I really enjoy and am passionate about working with this specific population. Also, that you have to accept the fact that you will not be an expert in every aspect of training. You can always learn more, which is one of the main reasons I am drawn towards this profession.

    7. What recommendations would you give someone who is looking to start a career in TSAC?      
    Find someone who currently works in the field to gain direct experience working with tactical athletes. The importance of gaining experience working with tactical populations cannot be understated. Obtain a college degree in an exercise science related field and acquire the appropriate certifications. Having a collegiate education and nationally recognized certifications allows you to set yourself apart from the average person. Lastly, as with most jobs in the field of strength and conditioning, the job requires much more work than a normal “8 to 5 job.” Therefore, you must be willing to put in the necessary hours.
     
    8. What do you believe are the top three physical requirements for this population that must be addressed in a proper TSAC program? 
    Power, strength, and endurance. Soldiers do not have the luxury that many collegiate and professional athletes have in being able to solely focus on any one of these aspects. However, while all three of these components need to be addressed in training, a greater emphasis should be placed on the component that is most specific to the soldier’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
     
    9. What steps do you go through when writing a program for the population you work with?     
    My job is unique in that I am teaching Army doctrine (FM 7-22, Army Physical Readiness Training); however, I do teach soldiers how to properly write programs that are in accordance with FM 7-22. We teach soldiers how to write programs that incorporate strength, mobility, and endurance activities with an emphasis towards Physical Readiness Training that is specific to the individual soldiers and unit’s Mission Essential Task List or tailored to soldiers that must be reconditioned due to injury. 

    10. What are some critical factors in getting tactical athletes to buy into a strength and conditioning program? 
    The “why” of the specific training program you are teaching and implementing. If you cannot answer the question “why am I doing this exercise/program” you will lose credibility quickly. Setting a positive example by demonstrating proficiency in everything you are teaching. From a teaching perspective, you cannot always participate in the training you are teaching; however, when appropriate, I feel that it is very important in earning the respect of the tactical athletes are you working with by demonstrating to them that, as an instructor, you are capable of doing everything you are asking them to do.  
     
    Listening to and learning from the tactical athlete population you are working with as much as possible. Because I have never been in their shoes, I try to learn as much as possible from those I am teaching to gain the insight and understanding necessary to become a more effective instructor. Staying humble and remaining patient while earning the respect of the tactical athletes you are training. Many of the soldiers I teach are often initially skeptical of the course. You have to demonstrate patience and a genuine interest in all the tactical athletes you are training. 
  • Disclaimer: The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) encourages the exchange of diverse opinions. The ideas, comments, and materials presented herein do not necessarily reflect the NSCA’s official position on an issue. The NSCA assumes no responsibility for any statements made by authors, whether as fact, opinion, or otherwise. 
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