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Cpl. Henry S. Good, a special intelligence communicator, Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 1, hangs upside down during a daily exercise routine at an outdoor gym Aug. 14. The gym was pieced together by Marines working out of Camp Fallujah and provides its users with a way to work out between busy schedules. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann)

Photo by Cpl. Chris T. Mann

Staying fit for combat

14 Aug 2008 | Cpl. Chris T. Mann

What better place to prepare for the Marine Corps’ new combat fitness test requirements than in a combat zone?

According to Marine Corps Order 6100.13, which was recently signed by the Commandant of the Marine Corps, every Marine must be physically fit regardless of age, grade, or duty assignment. The order outlines the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Program and emphasizes the requirement for all Marines to adopt a healthy lifestyle and a lifelong commitment to fitness.

Marines deployed with Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 1, are frequently seen spending time exercising in between hectic schedules in a makeshift gym set up just outside their offices at Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

 The hasty, out-door gym covered only by camouflage netting gives these Marines the chance to get their blood pumping between work shifts and daily routines, and helps them stay in keen physical condition.

With the possibilities of engaging in combat situations at a moment’s notice in the Anbar Province, and the new Combat Fitness Test recently implemented Corps-wide, Marines must remain vigilant both in and out of combat zones.

 “It is very important for Marines to stay fit and relieve stress, and the fact that we have a facility set up right outside our work space helps us maintain fitness,” said Capt Stephen B. Jackson, officer in charge, intelligence section, Regimental Combat Team 1. “You see guys come out to the gym during their breaks; often times these Marines don’t have time for much else.”

 The outdoor gym is set up so Marines can target each muscle group as they find the time during the day.  

 The gym has several sets of pull-up bars, a weight bench, a full set of free-weights, a bench press and other work-out equipment that one would normally find in most small gyms. The only difference is this gym is not enclosed with walls and sits atop Iraqi dirt.

But the lack of walls or a floor, or even an air-conditioner, does not keep Marines from regularly using the facility to stay in shape and test their fitness levels.

 “The first chance we get, we head outside to the gym to lift weights,” said Cpl. Mathew D. Hinojos, a 20-year-old intelligence specialist from Albuquerque, N.M. “I like to come in early in the morning and test my endurance levels at the gym; sometimes we have competitions between Marines in our shop.”

The outdoor setup may not be first class, but the determination of some Marines to stay in shape has kept this gym open for business.

Marines simply head outdoors, remove their blouses and covers, and jump right into a bench press or a set of pull-ups in their camouflage utilities. After completing a few sets in the gym they throw their blouses back on and it’s back to work.

For Marines, deployed to combat environments doesn’t mean physical fitness goes out the window. Many Marines at Camp Fallujah have found ways to work around busy schedules and have taken their fitness to the next level.