By Cpl. Ashley Phillips, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC --
The Marine Corps prides itself on being the world’s finest fighting force. To maintain this title, units and indiviudal Marines can utilize Force Fitness instructors and various Semper Fit programs to uphold the Corps’ physical fitness standards.
FFI is a secondary military occupational specialty created in 2016. It’s an integral asset in each unit to maintain mission readiness. Sgt. Jared Skelley, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron’s FFI, is dedicated and passionate about improving the health and wellness of the Marines he trains.
“Working with Sgt. Skelley has taught me so much,” said Lance Cpl. Amber Hull. “He has changed so many of my ideas and perceptions. He finds ways to motivate and coach you on an individual level. I’ve learned a lot of fitness and nutrition skills from him and am living a healthier lifestyle.”
Previously, Hull was in the body composition program, but with hard work and Skelley’s coaching, she was able to progress and maintain the health and fitness standards that are expected of all Marines. Another factor that helped Hull was diet and nutrition, Kathy Williams, the Semper Fit health promotion coordinator, meets with Marines to teach and improve different facets of health, such as nutrition, portion control and tobacco cessation.
“Every Marine should know that I am here to work with them to create a healthy lifestyle,” Williams said. “Health is more than just exercise and diet. We are looking at the whole Marine – mind, body, and spirit. Another great resource for Marines to find information is from the bulletin boards at the fitness center. They will let you know about the fitness classes and upcoming events.”
According to Skelley, nutrition and diet make up 80 percent of the work and the other 20 percent is made up of physical training. He works closely with Semper Fit by helping teach classes and coordinating with the other instructors.
“I tell Marines all the time to go to the gym and see what great classes are going on,” Skelley said. “All of the Marines on BCP go see Kathy and learn about Semper Fit nutrition. There are a lot of resources that Marines don’t know about or use. We all work together to provide the best training and information we can.”
The FFIs aren’t just for Marines in BCP and Remedial Conditioning Program, FFIs are trained to coach Marines to become tactical athletes, help prevent injuries and increase overall unit readiness. Skelley has led several unit-wide physical training classes with over a hundred Marines. FFIs are the subject matter experts when it comes to physical training. Skelley says he focuses on speed, agility, power, endurance and injury prevention.
“Marines should feel confident approaching a FFI, regardless of fitness level,” Skelley said. “A good portion of our training is about coaching and creating programs. We are taught to assess Marine’s limits and push them beyond those with a progressive program. It’s all about that individual’s mentality. If they give their all with a program I provide, they will improve exponentially.”
According to Skelley, the FFIs go through about 250 hours of class time with half of which is covering coaching, coaching assessment, and peer assessment. There are a total of 16 tests, covering everything from nutrition and anatomy, to programming and personal training.
“The program is great for the Marine Corps,” Skelley said. “It focuses on the planes of motion and functional fitness. This prepares them for attacks or rapid movements. A lot of times injuries happen on the battlefield because of a surprise and the Marine isn’t moving how they should be when they are working out. I give them workouts with these types of motions and utilizing all the planes of motion, strengthening their core and preparing them.”
The FFIs, health promotion coordinator, Semper Fit trainers and desk staff at the fitness center are knowledgeable and ready to help Marines become mission ready. For more information on Semper Fit programs, visit www.mccs-sc.com. To find a FFI, contact your unit leadership. According to Skelley, the training sections should be able to give you information about how to contact your unit FFI.
“I love doing this, most of the time I use my personal time to train Marines,” Skelley said. “You have to want it for yourself. It’s your body, it’s your health, it’s your longevity and you have to be willing to put in the work and use the resources that are here. My favorite part of being a FFI is the day-to-day victories of a Marine getting off of RCP or BCP, of a Marine coming up to me and saying ‘because of what you taught me, I’m reaching my goals’. Those are the little victories every day that keep me