Marines voice their opinions on how to improve their service’s physical fitness programs
By CARLOS M. VAZQUEZ II | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 30, 2019
The Marine Corps Force Fitness Division has been asking Marines and the civilians who work with them for ideas on how to improve the Corps’ physical fitness programs.
Earlier this month, the Marine Corps’ Fitness Operational Advisory Group released a survey looking for input on improving the Physical Fitness Test, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, the Force Fitness Instructor Program, Civilian Certified Athletic Trainers in the Operating Forces, Marine Corps Water Survival Training Program and military occupational specialty specific physical standards.
The survey, which ends Saturday and can be found at www.fitness.marines.mil, has approximately 28 questions, depending on which program the respondent chooses to address. Questions are tailored according to demographics, and documentation can be uploaded to support the survey-taker’s ideas.
“We believe the unfiltered input directly from individual Marines is of the utmost value,” Col. Stephen Armes, director of Marine Corps Force Fitness Division and Training and Education Command, told Stars and Stripes via email Thursday.
“We have already received hundreds of responses addressing multiple facets of the [physical fitness program]."
The group’s primary role is to approve recommended solutions to increase the overall fitness and readiness of Marines, Armes said.
Through the survey, Marines have an opportunity to give ideas about all areas of the physical fitness programs within the service and voice their opinions on topics such as enhancing education on performance nutrition, the use of new technology in workouts and how to better recover afterward.
“I think incorporating a deadlift event like how the Army is doing their test might be something interesting to try because in an actual combat operations scenario, you might have to be carrying something or someone heavy,” Cpl. Gaven Tippett, a motor transport operator with Combat Logistics Battalion 4 on Okinawa, told Stars and Stripes on Friday.
Individuals taking this year’s survey can submit more than one idea about the various programs, and those submissions will then be presented to the Marine Corps Combat Development Command’s commanding general for recommended upgrades to the programs.
“We officially solicit ideas for the [Fitness Operational Advisory Group] annually, but the Force Fitness Division takes into account feedback gathered throughout the year by way of site visits, road show briefs, daily phone calls fielded from the Corps … and inputs set to our organizational inbox,” Armes said.
A recent change has been implemented to the service’s Physical Fitness Test core exercise event as a result of research and feedback.
“One example is the inclusion of the plank as an alternative to the crunch on the Physical Fitness Test,” Armes said. “This was an output from the FOAG last year that led to Force Fitness Division conducting research of the plank. The research gathered led to the Commandant of the Marine Corps decision to include the plank as an alternative to the crunch for the 2020 PFT season.”
“I don’t think that the incorporation of planks is a bad idea,” Tippett said. “Because most people naturally roll over to the front of their bodies to lift themselves up from the ground, so it’s a good way to test and work out the core, compared to sit-ups.”
Once a recommendation has been decided upon for an improvement to the physical fitness programs, a change can take between six to 10 months, Armes said.
“Physical fitness affects every Marine, and as such, each individual Marine’s input is viewed equally,” he said. “The FOAG is only as good as the recommendations we receive. We greatly appreciate the support and the time taken to provide these inputs.”