CAMP LEATHERNECK, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — The Combat Logistics Battalion 4 motor pool hums with activity throughout the day, its frenetic bustle slowing only slightly as the sun sets, and a night-crew replaces their daytime counterparts.
At any given time, vehicles undergo maintenance, supplies are loaded and unloaded, and convoys are organized for combat logistics patrols throughout Helmand province that can last days or even weeks.
Supporting Regimental Combat Team 6 operations is a 24/7 job for the Marines and sailors of CLB-4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) and can leave them with little time for anything else. However, the service members of CLB-4 are not using the high operating tempo of the deployment as an excuse to slack off in the gym.
“We are held to the Marine Corps’ standards regardless of the environment we are in or what is being thrown at us,” said Sgt. William G. Drake, security team leader, Bravo Company, CLB-4, who is on his third deployment. “If you are not working out, you are going to lose your edge, and it is going to affect the mission.”
When looking to exercise, Marines and sailors of CLB-4 choose between a centrally located gym on Camp Leatherneck or a smaller facility that is conveniently located in the CLB-4 motor pool.
The main Camp Leatherneck gym includes a full range of weight lifting equipment as well as an outdoor soccer field and volleyball court.
The smaller, CLB-4 motor pool gym features a selection of free weights and lifting benches along with a pair of grappling mats for Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training.
The limited facilities and physical fitness equipment force Marines and sailors to change up their training in order to get a full exercise routine, said Gunnery Sgt. Michael Rubio, unit movement control center chief, CLB-4.
“Ignorance limits your ability to work out,” said Rubio. “If you are knowledgeable about working out and have good workout partners, you can exercise every muscle group in the body with what we have on hand [at the motor pool gym].”
Service members face different fitness challenges when they are away from the gyms of Camp Leatherneck on combat logistics patrols.
“Working out on convoys is very important,” said Drake. “I’ve seen Marines bring out pieces of plywood to lay down on the ground to do push-ups or crunches on. I’ve seen Marines hang bars between two vehicles for pull-ups. You just have to be creative and use what is on-hand.”
Establishing and maintaining a workout routine in a forward deployed environment is not the only obstacle Marines and sailors face. Poor nutrition can be another hindrance to service members while in Afghanistan.
“One of the main challenges out here is eating right,” Rubio said. “We don’t always get to choose what we eat like we would back [on Okinawa].
“During a busy day, there is a temptation to stay [in the motor pool] and eat what is around instead of walking to the chow hall,” added Rubio.
An effective physical fitness routine is not only important for maintaining combat readiness, it also plays an important role in upholding a sense of structure and boosting morale for the Marines and sailors, Drake said.
“Working out is a big stress reliever,” said Drake. “It helps the Marines unwind, release pent up energy and build camaraderie.”
According to Rubio, the benefits of working out make it an important mission readiness tool that the Marines and sailors of CLB-4 have embraced.
“The motivation and the attitude of the Marines regarding working out has been infectious so far,” said Rubio. “There is always someone who wants to go hit the gym, and they will motivate their friends to come with them.”
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This work, CLB-4 maintains physical edge, by Cpl Mark Stroud, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.