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A Force Fitness Instructor (FFI) student executes box jumps as part of the physical training portion of the course at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, October 5, 2016. The FFI course is made up of physical training, classroom instruction and practical application to provide the students with a holistic approach to fitness. Upon completion, the Marines will serve as unit FFIs, capable of designing individual and unit-level holistic fitness programs.

Photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell

Fitness course shapes new perspective on training

28 Oct 2016 | Sgt. Terry Brady The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

The Marine Corps’ first Force Fitness Instructor (FFI) Course concluded Nov. 4 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

Marine Administration 460/16 was released in September outlining the guidance and end state of the FFI program, which was implemented to improve overall unit fitness and health. Fifty students from across the Marine Corps were selected to participate in the initial five-week course, beginning Oct. 3.

“The FFI course is the Commandant’s answer to fitness for the Marine Corps,” said Gunnery Sgt. Dimyas Perdue, the chief instructor of the FFI Course. “It is designed to help Marines understand fitness in a better way.”

Daily operations during the course include physical training in the morning, followed by classes and practical application for the rest of the day.  Students study and avidly practice various fitness practices that test strength, endurance and agility, according to Arron Prowett, the strength and conditioning specialist for the course.

“They will do performance tests, and then we’ll briefly give them a class on not only the framework, but also how to administer, record and score it,” said Prowett. “We test lower body strength, lower body power, agility and anaerobic conditioning to see where they’re at and give insight on how fit or athletic a Marine is.”

The students learn about the seven foundational movements of fitness, which are pull, push, hinge, plank, lunge, squat and rotate. These movements are practiced throughout the course to improve the students’ capabilities and show how it can be practiced, according to Gregg. The course is also designed to augment other existing training programs in the Marine Corps.

“The program is very scalable and inclusive,” said Gregg. “We are not trying to get in the way of what the Marine Corps has all ready done. We wanted something that can leverage all of the resources that we have and apply them for the maximum potential they have for each Marine.”

An FFI is educated on different elements of overall health and fitness for Marines, and that includes nutrition. The course is working to break that mentality that any mix of diet and exercise is beneficial, according to Perdue. The instructors emphasize heavily that “nutrition is key”. They teach how nutrients work in the body, and how it can help Marines better train.

The students also learn the fundamentals of injury prevention measures.

“The course prepares them to take a group of Marines and make them as healthy and injury free as possible while increasing performance,” said Sgt. Adam Gregg, a FFI trainer. “There are a lot of preventive steps that can be done that are not being done.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to send these future FFIs back to the small-unit level to have the most impact.

“It doesn’t matter what [military occupational specialty] you are,” said Perdue. “Your unit is going to have a standardized approach to fitness and an FFI will be able to tailor the unit’s training program. This will change the overall perception of how we conduct fitness.”

Marines that are interested in the program should check to see if they meet the prerequisites according to MARADMIN 460/16 and conduct adequate research before applying to attend the course, Perdue added.

“Students should come with an open mind and soak up the information so they can bring it back to their unit,” said Perdue. “Prepare as if you were going to give your first class for fitness. Start looking at the information for physical fitness, but more importantly, live it.”

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