CAMP FOSTER, Japan — Marines with III Marine Expeditionary Force and employees with Marine Corps Community Services’ semper fit program participated in an aquatic training event sponsored by Headquarters Marine Corps at Camp Foster Sept. 13-14.
The training is part of a Marine Corps initiative to increase the readiness and health of Marines and sailors – specifically those who have sustained injuries and are getting back in fighting shape.
“One of the main reasons for creating this program was to get Marines back to full duty,” said Kari L. Hemund, the aquatic specialist for HQMC. “There was a gap between (medical services provided) and getting to full duty. Service members on light and limited duty had very few opportunities to exercise … this program is designed to help.”
A normal physical training session usually involves high-impact activities or activities that are stressful to the body.
“Marines normally (run) for PT,” said Mary O. Wykle, the program designer for the aquatic fitness initiative with HQMC. “They are getting stress fractures, shin splints and lower-back and knee problems. With this program, we are trying to get some of that training into the pool.”
The program’s leaders hope that by getting Marines into the pool and decreasing stress on Marines’ bodies, the readiness of the Marine Corps will increase.
“In the first (half) of 2011, there were approximately 5,000 Marines injured in noncombat (activities),” said Hemund. “This cost the Marine Corps $9 million. The Marine Corps cannot afford to have 5,000 (injured) Marines. With the downsizing, we are trying to lower the numbers of injured Marines and the cost.”
The program was designed as an all-encompassing training routine to lower the number of injuries.
“The core part of the training is interval running in the deep end of a pool,” said Wykle. “There is also strength, endurance, balance and agility training that can be conducted in either the shallow end or the deep end of the pool. The shallow end is normally used for upper-body workouts.”
Each exercise is designed to maximize the benefit for Marines.
“We have done tests that prove that heart rates are either the same or higher than when Marines are doing exercises on land,” said Wykle. “We have equipment to help the Marines work as hard as they would on land. This is all in order to get Marines back to full fitness.”
The initiative empowers units with the knowledge needed to modify their physical training programs to allow for more pool workouts.
“This was an opportunity to get some aquatic fitness training,” said Gunnery Sgt. Wesley C. Carter, a participant in the training and operations chief for Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF.
“This provides a different way to train the Marines with (lower physical) impact. We can add this to the current program, so Marines aren’t just doing laps in the pool.”
The workout regimens allow customization to the level of difficulty to match participants and maximize benefits, allowing Marines to stay healthy.
“The exercises are challenging based on the individual and their fitness level,” said Carter. “As long as you know your fitness level, you can improve with these exercises.”