NAVAL SUPPORT FACILITY INDIAN HEAD, Md. --
Surrounded by the gentle glow of the overhead lights, he watched as they unknowingly staggered into the gym. His eyes glimmered as if he were hiding a tiny red tail beneath his green shorts. Grabbing his stop watch, he smiled devilishly and growled through his clenched teeth: “Let us begin.”
While combat conditioning is not considered heavenly physical training by many, it is a new program Marines are implementing to better prepare for the front lines of combat.
“Much like combat, there is no comfort zone with this program ever,” said Sgt. Jeff Sullivan, battalion combat conditioning instructor, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Combat conditioning aims to improve the physical appearance and combat readiness of all Marines. Participants can expect to reap the benefits of this program through a better physical fitness test score, increased energy, and improved physical appearance. Cpl. Bryan Ferry, field wireman, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, said the program has helped him to progress his career in the Marine Corps.
“My run time is better, I have more energy, and I look better in uniform,” Ferry said. “My command has noticed a big difference in my appearance, since I have been participating in the combat conditioning program here.”
A typical workout consists of various exercises done repetitively over a consistent amount of time. However, with combat conditioning, physical training is made convenient for anyone in just about any place.
“Anyone can use this program, because it’s geared toward various lifestyles. Whether you’re an infantryman in the Marine Corps or a stay-at-home mother, this program can accommodate anyone’s exercise needs,” said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class, Chris Dare, hospital corpsman, Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “That’s the beauty of this program. It’s so functional.”
What attracts most people to this program are the components combat conditioning incorporates into a typical workout, as it is inclusive.
“To me, it’s the perfect program. Every normal pt session should incorporate agility, speed, power, endurance, and strength. This program incorporates all of those into one workout,” Sullivan explained. “Combat conditioning is a different animal. It doesn’t matter how in shape you think you are; you will get broken off with this program.”
Designing combat conditioning workouts takes imagination, since workouts are supposed to constantly push Marines past their limits every conditioning session, said Sullivan.
“Combat conditioning sessions can last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour, when Marines implement sand bags on runs with back packs and stop for short periods of calisthenics,” Sullivan explained.
While combat conditioning gives Marines an effective physical training session, according to Sullivan, it also prepares them for the front lines of battle; a place most Marines have already seen.
“In combat, a Marine may be running two miles or less, but it’s going to be at a fast pace,” Sullivan explained. “The Marine will probably have to low crawl, jump through windows, dig fighting holes, and a lot of other things that require dexterity and strength. Combat conditioning is geared toward giving Marines the strength, stamina, and speed for everything the Marine might face in combat.”
For Ferry, combat conditioning is a way to give back to the Marine Corps.
“I’ll be able to perform better, carry more gear, and get the mission done faster and more proficiently,” Ferry said.
Among other physically exhausting tasks, Marines and sailors with the unit are tasked with being emergency responders, which can quickly consume a Marine or Sailor’s energy. For CBIRF, combat conditioning is particularly effective, due to the unit’s extensive mission, said Sullivan.
“This program is perfect for CBIRF Marines and sailors, because when they’re in their personal protective equipment with gas masks on their faces, dragging casualties, their air supply is limited,” Sullivan said. “Strength, endurance, stamina, all of those areas combat conditioning focuses on in one workout, when CBIRF Marines and sailors are in a contaminated area dragging casualties.”
Grinning from ear to ear, he grabbed his stop watch and crawled his way to the front of the gym. Sweat saturated his cherry red face, as he huffed: “Good workout”.