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1st Marine Division


1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
From personal trainer to Marine; Marine passes on knowledge

By Cpl. Shawn Cummins | | November 2, 2008

All Marines are taught a skill at the beginning of their military careers that will help support the Marine Corps.  Some Marines, though, bring their own skills.

Cpl. Arron M. Stephens, a former personal trainer, has been helping some Marines from Task Force 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5 get into better shape while the battalion is deployed to Iraq.

“I think it’s really important (he helps some Marines) because of the fact that (physical training) is not really driven by a set schedule,” said Staff Sgt. Paul M. Hernandez, administrative chief, Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Bn., 7th Marines. “With everyone’s different shifts, Marines getting together and helping each other out is the best way to make sure everyone is physically fit.”

Stephens has been a certified personal trainer with the International Sport and Science Association for six years now.  Since joining the military, his love for training has been renewed by working with the Marines.

“The enthusiasm is really high, and it helps me in the gym.  In the civilian world, people don’t have the drive that Marines have,” said Stephens, 27, an administrative clerk with H&S Co., from Truckee, Calif.   “Part of the reason I stopped personal training is because it’s hard to convince people to live a healthy lifestyle. They want to do it to lose weight or get on a yearly kick, but the cool thing about the Marine Corps is they kind of make it a lifestyle.”

The Marines that he works with have picked his brain for weightlifting and nutrition advice and have spent time in the gym with him to learn how they can get in better shape.  Stephens tells Marines to skip the sweets, but not meals, so they can keep their metabolism moving throughout the day.

“I came out (to Iraq) planning to get in (better) shape. I didn’t know how to go about it, so I talked to (Stephens) about his personal training skills, and I’ve been going along with him to the gym since we got here,” said Cpl. Chad R. Hochstatter, 23, an administrative clerk with H&S Co., from Mendota, Ill.  “He got me in a good routine, and I’ve lost some weight and packed on some muscle.”

During a deployment, it is often up to the individual Marines to maintain their physical fitness levels on their own time.  Marines often work together to stay motivated and make each other accountable for staying in shape, and Stephens’ training puts him in a unique position to help out.

“I think it’s beneficial that we have someone of his caliber to assist Marines with building bodyweight or trying to cut weight,” said Hernandez, 28, who is from Indio, Calif.

“He also helps them with the proper techniques so no one gets hurt while they’re working out.”

Working out provides more than just a way to get in shape, but a way to forget about the daily stresses of being deployed.

“Being a Marine is obviously a stressful job, it’s a stressful environment no matter where you’re at, and exercise is to me the number one stress reliever in my day,” Stephens said. “The gym is definitely where I feel the most relieved; it’s where I get most of my stress out.  After you work out you just feel a lot better.  It’s one of the high points of my day.”

Stephens’ help has become a valuable asset to those that work with him.  Marines are using his knowledge and motivation to get into shape and become better Marines.

“Usually if you train by yourself, you can’t tell if you’re doing a good job, but with (Stephens) helping, he’ll tell me if I’m doing an exercise right and he’ll tell me ‘good job’ once I punch out a lot of reps,” said Hochstatter. “I’ve put on muscle and I’m losing weight.  I’d say it helps out tremendously.  I think he’s doing a great job coming out here and training people.”