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Sgt. Maj. Julio E. Meza, Command Sergeant Major for RS Nashville, performs a thruster during his morning cardio workout. Meza explained how the best way to maintain your weight is to maintain a routine physical fitness program and watch your caloric intake.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Roger Nelson

Recruiters adjust fitness routine, eating habits to maintain Marine Corps standards

11 May 2012 | Staff Sgt. Roger Nelson 6th Marine Corps District

Whether you are patrolling in the brutal mountains of Afghanistan or recruiting on the mean streets of Antioch, Tenn., one thing all Marines must maintain is their level of physical fitness.

Just like their Marine brothers around the globe, a recruiter’s day begins at the crack of dawn.  Instead of patrols orders, recruiters are conducting in-briefs with their SNCOIC’s about the day’s plan and their daily prospects.  Similarly though, the recruiter’s day does not end until most people are at home getting ready to hit the rack.

This difficult work schedule could be a tedious task for a Marine trying to find time to maintain the high standards of physical readiness the Marine Corps demands of them.

For Staff Sgt. Brandon C. Dinkins, a recruiter assigned to Marine Corps Recruiting Station Nashville, Permanent Contact Station Antioch, the day starts with an early morning workout before tackling the daily mental and physical strains of recruiting duty.

“I’d say I try to get some form of [physical training] in at least 6 times a week, whether it’s an early morning, late evening run or just a quick work out at the gym,” said Dinkins, a Shreveport, La., native.  “My work out routine has changed greatly since coming out on recruiting duty.  The biggest thing would be getting introduced to the world of Crossfit and circuit training, and stepping away from the normal formation runs and daily-seven’s.”

Crossfit and circuit training is becoming very popular throughout the Marine Corps as a strength and conditioning brand that combines weightlifting, sprinting, gymnastics and power-lifting to name a few of the workout disciplines.

Other than finding time to maintain high fitness standards, another issue recruiters face is the time and location of where their next meal may come from, explained Sgt. Maj. Julio E. Meza, sergeant major of RS Nashville.

“Marines need to be mindful of the fast food trap they may be faced with while on recruiting duty.   It’s an easy solution to get fast food between interviews and high school visits” added Meza.  “I personally started counting calories and trying to fully understand nutrition.”

Dinkins, a purple-heart recipient, went on to explain how the contacts made during recruiting duty have played a part in his diet and fitness abilities.

“Being out here allowed me to make a great deal of contacts, and I’ve come across nutritionists and personal trainers, who have helped keep me on a solid diet plan, but most of all maintain that discipline,” he added.  “Especially since it would be so easy to just stop and pick up fast food because it’s more convenient and involves less preparation and time.”

Sergeant Adam J. Foutz, the supply clerk for RS Nashville, explained how it’s very easy to let your fitness and diet slip, but isn’t just about the strains of the duty.

“I really think it doesn’t just apply to recruiting duty, but any duty station,” he added.  “It starts with self; how driven are you?  It appears that those who have more time for PT also seem to be putting forth the effort to make the mission.

Apart from that, a duty station is what you make it.  If you want to let yourself ‘go’ you’ll find an excuse to do so.  If you want to stay physically active, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it happen.  The duty station may have some wear-and-tear, but ultimately, the outcome is based upon the individual’s decision.”

Aside from maintaining Marine Corps standards, recruiters are always in the eye of the public, building rapport and gaining positive exposure.  In areas assigned to the 6th Marine Corps District as in all areas located away from a major base, a recruiter is often the only contact with the Corps the average civilian will have, and they will establish an opinion of the Marines as a whole based on the professionalism they see in their local Marine Corps recruiter.

“I whole heartily think poolees base their opinion of the Marine Corps on the recruiter,” Dinkins explained.  “It’s really important to train with the poolees and develop them.  As recruiters we have to lead from the front and participate with them.  They’re looking for inspiration and to be like us, the last thing they want to see is an out of shape Marine.  Then what do they have to look forward to?”

In this way, physical fitness is not only a professional requirement among recruiters, but a mission requirement as well.

“It all comes down to one’s willingness to stay fit or to let themselves go.  It is easy to blame it on recruiting duty.  Everyone who comes out on recruiting has some means to a gym, or a road to go out and run on, but better yet there is always a pull up bar at the office.  If it’s just taking 10-20 minutes a day and knocking out a few sets of pull ups and pushups— that will make the difference,” said 26-year old Dinkins.  “Even though it’s a non-deployable unit, you will not always be considered non-deployable, and we as Marines have a high standard to uphold.”

For more information on the Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test and Body Composition Program, reference Marine Corps Order P6100.12.

6th Marine Corps District