CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- -- The sun has barely peeked over the horizon but the Marine noncommissioned officers in the Force Fitness Instructor course at Camp Hansen are already on the move. They’ve gathered at the running track to do their daily morning workout. After receiving a quick brief on the circuit workout, the NCOs lead their groups of Marines to their first exercises. The frogs and cicadas singing in the distance are quickly drowned out by shouts of motivation.
A little over half of the sun has made it over the horizon, but the temperature is already rising quickly. It’s hot and humid, typical for the tropical island of Okinawa, Japan. The NCOs taking the six week FFI course are barely fazed by the heat as they continue to motivate the Marines in their groups to push themselves.
Soon, sweat mixes with the dew on the grass as the Marines finish the first round of the workout. Sgt. Justin D. Boetger, a food service specialist with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, puts down the weights he was curling.
Boetger said the course will help out each Marine be a valuable asset when they return to their units.
“The course is going to bring a lot of extra stuff that the Marines’ units could use to produce better quality, physically-trained Marines,” Boetger said, a native of Bakersfield, California.
FFI was first introduced in the Marine Corps as a secondary military occupation in 2016 to improve the physical fitness and mission readiness of Marines. In the FFI course, Marines receive classes on fitness, the anatomy of the body and High Intensity Tactical Training, a training technique which consist of intense bursts of exercise followed by short recovery periods. The Force Fitness program is still relatively new, nearing its two year mark.
Boetger said he’s seen great improvements in himself since the course started.
“Mentally, I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” said Boetger. “Physically, I’ve learned to tune the techniques of each individual workout to really make my body work more efficiently. You need to learn proper technique, not only to prevent injury, but also to enhance your performance.”
Staff Sgt. Anatoly Ray, the lead instructor of the FFI course, briskly walks around the running track with his clipboard and evaluates each Marine leading a group. As the morning’s workout ends, Ray gathers the Marines to give them a quick pep talk before letting them go to carry on the plan of the day. During his talk, he explained what is expected of them in this course and encouraged them to always push to be better than they were the day before.
“The idea is to make them more lethal and resilient leaving the course,” Ray said, a native of West Jefferson, North Carolina. “What we’re doing here is training Marines to be able to go back to their units and administer [physical training] more effectively. We’re trying to teach them a more rounded plain of fitness, so we’re basically making a 360-degree stronger and more lethal warfighter.”