AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Operating in a combat zone, the Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, are using the tools available to keep themselves physically and mentally ready.
The Marines and sailors in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, have a variety of gym facilities at their disposal to assist them in maintaining their high levels of physical conditioning for combat.
Each base operated by the battalion has its own facility, with the largest and best equipped gym located at Camp Hurricane Point.
Although most of the equipment is strength based weights, the facilities make the task of self improvement a little easier for the service members.
“Having this equipment makes staying in shape easier,” said Sgt. James H. Simpson, a 32-year-old squad leader for Company B. “You don’t have to improvise if you have a gym.”
The facilities are a popular site for service members during their off hours from work.
Marines and sailors crowd the gyms all through the day and into the night.
“The gym is the best thing we have here on camp,” said Pfc. David D. Maklary, a 21-year-old water purification specialist with Headquarters and Service Company.
In addition to helping maintain physical conditioning, the facilities provide service members with an outlet for stress relief and a boost in morale.
Hard physical work outs help to ease the hardship of deployments for many in the battalion and self improvement promotes confidence in the individual service members, said Simpson, a native of Cleveland, Miss.
“I might go crazy out here without a gym,” said Simpson. “Working out is a great way to blow off some steam.”
Although many service members use the facilities to seek self improvement and stress reduction, necessity is the major motivation for most work in the gyms.
Being in peak physical condition is vital to service members operating in Ramadi, who spend long hours standing guard posts, walking patrols and conducting various other physical tasks.
“Marines and sailors place an importance on their physical conditioning because it is their duty to do so,” said 2nd Lt. Brian C. Schexnayder, 23-year-old adjutant for the battalion.
Although the Marines and sailors of the battalion use the facilities to meet their requirements, they do not have to rely on the gyms to maintain their physical readiness, said Schexnayder, a native of Lutcher, Louisiana.
Without the gyms, the adaptable service members could augment their physical conditioning through alternate methods.
In their initial training, Marines and sailors learn basic, body-weight driven exercises to shape and condition the body.
“All of the basic exercises we learned in boot camp can be done with gyms,” said Simpson. “We have the ingenuity to get it done; we just don’t have to use it.”