Physical training was a required portion of the V-12 curriculum. Training was led by a cadre of U.S. Navy personnel specifically tasked with conditioning Sailors for wartime duty. These instructors conducted training sessions consisting of calisthenics and tumbling, and prepared Sailors for a required swim test.
Construction of the obstacle course began in April 1943. The course met required specifications and allowed four Sailors to run at the same time. Upon completion, the obstacle course became part of the Sailors' physical training requirements. U.S. Navy personnel who inspected lauded the obstacle course lauded it as the best in the region. On September 28, 1944, Cadet Wayne Jones of Seattle, Washington, broke the standing obstacle course record with a time of three minutes and four seconds, earning him the Navy Athletic Achievement medal.
The obstacle course was also used as a motivational tool. Sailors who received demerits during an inspection were sometimes order to run an extra lap or two on the course.