FORT JACKSON, SC (WIS) - The United States Army trains it soldiers like professional athletes. The mission is to improve the readiness of our Nation's Army.
Captain Matthew Dixon leads an elite training program for hundreds of select soldiers based out of Fort Jackson, at the U.S. Army Fitness school.
He serves as the Master Fitness Instructor under the Master Fitness Trainer Course.
"It is making a difference," said Captain Dixon. "Ultimately, the level of readiness we're going to be able to create is going to be amazing."
With the course, they are training as professional athletes.
"Before, it might not have had a specific goal for each specific day," Captain Dixon said. "Now, we literally have a goal. Today's soldier is one of the most elite trained individuals, and they have access to their Master Fitness Instructor at the company level."
Dixon's path to personal fitness and leadership started as a child growing up in Anchorage, Alaska.
"When I was younger my father was in the military," Captain Dixon said. "My stepfather was in the Marine Corps. They had some health issues. I basically didn't want to end up like that."
At 18 years old, Dixon went through one of the toughest moments in his young life.
"My father had heart disease and passed away," Dixon said. "So, from that, I got interested in different ways to train and try to stay healthy, as well as playing athletics growing up."
Dixon's life course put him on a path to becoming a personal trainer.
"I found an overall passion for physical fitness." Dixon added, "to include the nutritional aspects to actual performance based training."
Dixon studied exercise science at Oregon State University. After graduating in the early 2000s, he worked as a personal trainer. In 2006, he moved to New York City to help train Olympians, pro athletes, and first responders.
Working in the Big Apple inspired a big dream of enlisting in the Army.
"When I was living in New York City I was training a lot of first responders," Captain Dixon said. "9/11 had hit home, and because of that I decided to enlist in the Army."
He enlisted in 2009 and after serving multiple tours overseas, Dixon worked his way up through the ranks. And in 2016, Dixon was tabbed to become the lead instructor for the Master Fitness Trainer course for the U.S. Army.
The program is based at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC. Dixon, now 36, teaches select soldiers scientifically-based training techniques.
The lessons help those soldiers to better prepare their units to become more physically fit and ready to serve. The program also helps train first responders in the area.
It's been 18 years since Dixon lost his father. Dixon knows his father would be proud of the man and leader in the military he's become.
"I've been able to give back to the country he loved, my grandparents loved, and I love," Dixon said. "I think if he were here, he would be proud that I was his son."