Photo Information

Marines and sailors run on the flight deck of the USS Carter Hall (LSD 50) while at sea May 9,2013. The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) is currently deployed as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group to the 5th Fleet area of responsibility. The 26th MEU operates continuously across the globe, providing the president and unified combatant commanders with a forward-deployed, sea-based quick reaction force. The MEU is a Marine Air-Ground Task Force capable of conducting amphibious operations, crisis response, and limited contingency operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Michael S. Lockett

Physical training: Keeping Marines in shape on ship

24 May 2013 | Cpl. Michael S. Lockett 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Ship life is a triumph of design by efficiency. Each minute of the day is designed to help contribute to the smooth running of the vessel. That means the day to day routine aboard a naval vessel, especially for the Marines it conveys from one shore to the next, can be precisely that: routine. Many Marines need something else in their day-to-day with a bit of variety -- a bit of zest -- to keep things interesting. 

“PT (physical training) helps reduce stress, increases your body’s ability to fight off sickness, and helps build camaraderie and teamwork if used as a training aid for Marines,” said 1st Sgt. Derrick Cordova, Company K first sergeant, Battalion Landing Team 3/2, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, from Richlands, N.C. Working out is one of the avenues available to shipboard Marines to relax, in their own way, working out on weights, machines and treadmills so they’re lean and ready if their particular set of skills becomes needed.

“You feel better about yourself. Your mind works more quickly. You don’t get sick as much,” said Sgt. Andrew Roberson, squad leader with Co. K and a Blue Springs, Miss., native. Exercise helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses, its immune system, against infection from illness and disease. This is especially important in the confined spaces of the ship, where a viral outbreak can cripple the combat effectiveness of the entire vessel in a relatively short period of time. “Having a strong immune system from PT helps combat that,” said Roberson.

“When you get into a routine where you work out, it helps make the time go by quicker, breaking up the day, so it doesn’t seem like you’re sitting in a steel box for days, weeks, and months,” said Cordova. Each time a Marine works out, they have to change, work out, clean up, shower, and get dressed, moving their schedule along by a few hours. The process of daily PT helps establish a day-to-day schedule that makes the hours go by quicker.

The ship itself is set up surprisingly well for working out. Equipped like many ships with a full, if rather compact, gym in the belly of the ship with weights, machines, and treadmills, the USS Carter Hall has much more to offer. There’s an improvised high intensity training gym set up in an empty storage area with more weights and kettlebells, a room with heavy and speed punching bags, a weather deck with pull-up bars and mats, and the whole flight deck, available for running and other exercise. 

“We have everything from dumbbells to Crossfit. Hit the punching bags. Do dead lifts. Roll around on the mats doing MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program). Run on the treadmill. We have everything a regular gym has,” said Roberson.