Marine HITTs ground running toward better future
By Cpl. Gabriela Garcia-Herrera, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- A puff of powder follows the sound of a loud clap as U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 3 Enrique Laguna wraps his fingers around the cold bar placed at his ankles.
With a swift motion, he brings the bar over his head, and with another motion he drops it, making a loud clang on the black squares which make up the floor of the High Intensity Tactical Training Center at Ironworks Gym on Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
During working hours, Laguna provides communication services, as the MCAS Iwakuni telephone systems officer, to station residents and service members, but you can also find him in the HITT Center before and after work and even during lunch.
“It initially started as a hobby,” said Laguna. “I started working out at the HITT Center by myself. Marines saw what I was doing and joined. After that, I began teaching and helping people with their fitness and nutrition. I prepare Marines for challenges that the Marine Corps puts in front of them, physical and mental.”
Laguna starts his day honing special skills. At 5:30 a.m. he’s usually teaching proper form for weightlifting. He strengthens his in endurance in a high intensity workout during lunch, and he finishes his day with weightlifting and stretching.
“In different stages of my life fitness has meant different things,” said Laguna. “When I was a younger Marine, fitness was about image. As I got older it became about doing well to get ahead in my career, and now it’s about increased work capacity. It’s about bettering myself and living a healthy lifestyle.”
Laguna came from a family that valued service to others. As a child he would listen to his father tell stories of his desire to serve his country in the line of duty. It instilled a sense of pride in him therefore, becoming a Marine was not only a privilege but an honor.
In 2005, Laguna went through a series of surgeries limiting his duties as a Marine. He weighed over 215 pounds, depreciating the sense of honor his father had taught him.
“I was placed on the (Body Composition Program), and it gave me a wake-up call,” said Laguna. “It hit me hard, and from that moment on I told myself I was going to get past it no matter how hard it was.”
Laguna said the biggest obstacle was overcoming the negative environment brought upon him by BCP and dealing with the reputation it had among other Marines.
“The challenges in that instance were trying to stay positive and to not let them get to me or make me feel like I couldn’t get out of BCP,” said Laguna. “I overcame it by putting in the extra work. I controlled what I could.”
Despite challenges in the past, Laguna’s passion for fitness continues to grow. He said he faces new difficulties every day, and his wife helps him overcome them.
“Motivation is like coffee,” said Laguna. “You drink it in the morning, but by the afternoon the caffeine is out of your system. Marines should find someone who inspires them. For me, that’s my wife. She showed me that running wasn’t the only way to get fit. Find someone who inspires you because inspiration will last a lifetime.”