USS KEARSARGE, At Sea -- At 8 p.m. aboard USS Kearsarge sounds of screaming and stomping carry throughout the spaces. There's no reason to worry, however. It isn't an enemy assault. It is simply an aerobic exercise regime in which exercises projected on a video screen are performed in rapid succession, increasing speed every repetition with nothing but 30 seconds rest between sets. Participants sweat, shout, and “hate life” -- but more and more show up for class each night. It's just one of many opportunities Marines of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit seize to push themselves in their physical training aboard ship.
While physical training is still an essential part of the military lifestyle, living aboard a ship can offer limited options to keep a routine fresh and creative. With limited space, time and equipment in the gym, physical training can quickly become routine and mundane for some.
"There's other people here," said Sgt. Deanna Parker, Motor Transport Dispatch Chief for Combat Logistics Battalion 26, a regular attendee of the cardio class. "So it's easier to be disciplined because other people are doing the same thing you're doing, and you have that video motivation rather than just running in front of a treadmill staring at nothing. It does things that I would normally not do on my own, different exercises that I've never seen before. It's fun to do something that is new even if it's hard. It's new and different so you're willing to try it."
At his fifth night of cardio class, Sgt. William Schultz, engineer squad leader with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion attached to Battalion Landing Team 3/8, said, "I feel like I don't want to come back the next day but I always do. ... You feel like you've accomplished something once it's all said and done."
Even if scheduled classes don't pique their interests, Marines aboard USS Kearsarge find ways to supplement their physical training with a little ingenuity. If it's there, Marines will find a way to exercise in, on, around, or with it. Ramps aboard ship made for transportation of troops and equipment become calf-busting hills with Marines and sailors running up and down them at all hours of the day. Flak jackets become weight vests, casualty litters become dumbbells, and changing the barrel of an M249 Bravo machinegun is a good way to catch a breath between sets.
If a Marine or sailor wants exercise with more of a beat to it, on Friday nights they descend several flights of stairs to find themselves in the middle of salsa night, where nimble-footed instructors teach young and old how to Salsa, Meringue, and Bachata. Though it seems like a non-traditional way to exercise in the military, participants say they find it adds a little fun to their routine while still maintaining their physical fitness.
Corporal Polina Anderson, linguist and intelligence analyst for 2nd Radio Battalion with the Command Element of 26th MEU, keeps her workout routine fresh by reading different workout books and incorporating what she learns into her fitness schedule. She attends not only the cardio class but salsa night as well.
"I love it," She said, "It's dancing, what's not to love? You dance for two hours straight. Yeah, you get exercise."
Keeping physically fit is an important part of a military career and being a leader of Marines. Aboard USS Kearsarge Marines and sailors merge creativity and enthusiasm to push their physical fitness to even higher peaks.
How does Anderson feel after a session? "Dead," she said with a laugh.