Tire flipping unites Marines in brotherhood, pain

29 Nov 2012 | Cpl. Timothy Lenzo

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GERONIMO, Afghanistan – In today’s society of workout trends from Pilates and Crossfit to Insanity and P90X, Marines with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, are trading DVD workouts for a more rugged approach.

Every other Sunday, Marines gather to flip two tires for more than a mile around the base. The exercise works their entire body and also brings Marines together who normally would not interact.

“We went out to enhance the base morale by flipping two gigantic tires,” said Sgt. Michael Sinicropi, maintenance management chief with the battalion. “When we first decided to flip tires, it sounded like a terrible idea. When the day came, everyone looked around like, ‘We are not really going to flip that tire?’ Then, true to the Marines, we flipped the tire.”

The first day there were only three Marines. They flipped the tire in plain view of the entire base. Sinicropi, from Deerfield Beach, Fla., did not realize it then, but he had just started a workout that would grow in participants during the next couple weeks.

“When we returned, the company commander and company gunnery sergeant were talking about us flipping the tire,” said Sinicropi. “The next day the whole base was talking about us.”

After the first week, the three Marines saw their numbers more than double as other Marines joined in the workout. During their latest outing, 20 Marines helped flip the tire. The oddity of the workout attracted many of the Marines. The intensity of the workout kept them coming back.

“It’s a very unique workout,” said Sinicropi. “Marines go for a while, for 15 or 20 minutes and they feel good. Fifteen flips and their back hurts. Then they get to the point where it’s like a cardio workout combined with pullups, pushups and everything else at the same time.”

The exercise is simple. Using their arms, legs and back, Marines flip a tire to move it forward.

“It’s a full body workout,” said Staff Sgt. Jaime Butler, administration chief with the battalion. “We flipped two tires around the entire base, for more than a mile. It’s really motivating to all the Marines.”

The Marines alternated between two tires, a large seven-ton truck tire, approximately five feet tall, and a smaller tire, more than three and a half feet in height. One individual flipped the smaller tire, but the larger tire took two Marines.

With sweat dripping down their faces, Marines screamed words of encouragement. The yelling drew even more attention than the loud thud of the heavy tires slamming against the gravel and mud road.

“The Marines keep pushing each other,” said Butler, from Warren, Mich. “If anyone absolutely can’t flip the tire someone will come help, but for the most part they want to see Marines do it themselves. That’s when the screaming comes in.”

Butler joined after the first week and has not missed one since. He recently joined the battalion and found the workout a great chance to meet and build camaraderie with the other Marines.

“It’s a good time for all the Marines and really impressive what something so small like flipping a tire can do for a group of Marines,” said Sinicropi. “No matter how big or strong a Marine is, they are all in the same amount of pain after flipping the tire more than 15 times. It’s going to hurt, and it’s going to hurt bad.”

The tire flipping will continue throughout the rest of the battalion’s deployment. Marines from the new private first class to the experienced gunny meet to flip these massive tires, boosting morale and sharing in the pain.