MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marines completed the first Force Fitness Instructors program held at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, March 17, 2017.
The eight-week program involved an hour of physical training a day for five days a week.
Workout days were divided between focusing on lower body strength and endurance, upper body strength and endurance, speed and agility, a mandatory recovery day and a challenge day on Fridays to test progress.
“It’s pretty much everything you would get if you went to a personal trainer,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Charles London, MCAS Iwakuni’s first official FFI.
Marines reported improvements on their flexibility, nutrition standards, endurance and physical-training habits.
“[These Marines] should definitely be proud of the accomplishments they have made and everything they have overcome to get to this point,” said U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. James Waddington, MCAS Iwakuni’s second Marine to become an FFI. “I know that they are going to continue to strive and work hard to get better.”
London said the biggest changes he noticed were in confidence and mental fitness.
“They show up down on themselves, but after a couple of weeks they seem to glow when you see them,” said London. “There’s nothing like seeing a marine go from ‘I can’t,’ to ‘When are you going to let me try?’”
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Mikael Merrick, a program participant, said London and Waddington should receive a lot of gratitude from the Marines for their help.
“They did a really good job,” said Merrick. “I appreciate everything they have done and all the long hours that they put in to improve Marines.”
Another program participant, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Brittney Nelson Cedillo, said that working out fell by the wayside as she found herself caught up in the day-to-day activities of life in the fleet, and credited the program with helping her enjoy working out again.
“The best thing is being able to come together with other Marines and really enjoy working out,” said Nelson Cedillo. “You kind of lose sight of that while you are doing your mission.”
After their final workouts, the Marines gathered around London one last time.
London handed them their certificates for completing the program and asked for their opinions of the program and how it could be improved. Overall, the Marines said they were optimistic about the future of the program.
“What the Marine Corps had in the past hasn’t been close to as good as the program I just went through with Staff Sgt. London,” said Merrick. “If we are able to keep this program going and keep Marines involved in it, I can see that it’s going to be a big help for Marines in the future.