Physical fitness is essential to life in the Corps. However, finding the motivation to train can a be challenge while balancing personal and military obligations. The best way to get out of a slum is to find some motivation so exercising doesn’t feel like work.
Relying on outside influences can provide the extra inspiration needed to maximize the time spent working out.
Music can prove to be an invaluable tool when preparing for an exercise session, said Gretchen Benz, an athletic trainer at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md. The sound of a favorite song can elevate someone’s mood, making it easier to ignore the fatigue of a rigorous work out.
“The right music can get you focused and excited to get in the gym,” she said.
Finding the motivation to get into the gym isn’t always as simple as getting up to run. Cpl. Omar Askew, a legal services specialist with Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., needed additional motivation when he weighed 300 pounds and was told he was at risk for a heart attack. Music kept him focused on his goal to lose weight and get off the Body Composition Program, a program for Marines who are outside height and weight standards.
“I believe music has an effect on you. It’s like adrenaline, the sound of music beats the rhythm into you,” said Askew, who now weighs 190 pounds and fights on the Combat Center’s mixed martial arts team, Fight Club 29.
The sound of footsteps and shouting Marines can also encourage individuals to push their limits. For this reason, formation runs are a staple of many unit exercise programs.
Running cadences can build esprit de corps, bringing total strangers together to act as a cohesive unit, said Sgt. David Fiocco, a drill instructor with 3rd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
“It sounds good and makes you look good,” said the Cleveland native.
Running cadences also set a pace based on the tempo, usually faster then what an individual would do on his own, said Benz.
“It’s been shown that runners will mimic the tempo of what they are listening to, whether they mean to or not,” she said.
Formation runs are often the first exposure recruits get to the camaraderie amongst Marines. Fiocco said he believes that this helps recruits long after they graduate recruit training.
“Marines change when they go off to [Marine Combat Training] and the operating forces,” he said. “But when they’re struggling on a run and they hear that cadence, they can revert to that feeling they had at [recruit training] when they were able to overcome tough challenges, and push through the run.”
Whether shouting the story of the Marine Corps through cadence or trotting to the beat of “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, there are plenty of ways to get motivated. It’s up to you to dig deep and find the strength to go the extra mile.
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