By MCC Jesse Sherwin, MC2 Christopher Carson, CM3 Keith Roman and BUCN Zavier Favila, NMCB 3
Seabees from NMCB 3, Det. Morocco, run up a sand dune during a physical training (PT) session, Tan Tan, Morocco. Deployed to more than eight countries throughout Europe and Africa, the battalion incorporated different terrains, climates and facilities into their PT routines, resulting in a combined weight loss of 1,000-plus pounds from February to August. Photo by CE3 Rebecca Wydeen
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 3’s focus on a culture of fitness has resulted in a combined weight loss of more than 1,000 pounds while on deployment to countries throughout Europe and Africa from February to August 2012.
In March 2012, the 21st Century Sailor and Marine Initiative was rolled out by the Secretary of the Navy, and one of the pillars of the program was to transform the culture of physical fitness testing into a culture of fitness. To complete this goal each detachment site conducted physical training (PT) six times per week as part of the normal work routine.
Since NMCB 3 was deployed to more than eight countries throughout Europe and Africa, each location featured different terrains, climates and facilities available for PT. This made holding PT six days a week challenging for the entire battalion.
At the main deployment site in Rota, Spain, all Seabees held PT together every Monday and Friday at 5:30 a.m. Mondays focused on strengthening exercises and short runs that built speed; Fridays focused on long endurance runs.
On June 8 – a Friday PT session – the CO challenged the ‘Bees in Spain to a voluntary 10-mile run. More than 75 participated.
“We offered the rest of Friday off to anyone who participated in the run,” said Cmdr. Scott Raymond, commanding officer, NMCB 3. “I was pleased when more than 90% lined up to participate. I was even more pleased to see many of the participants finish the run, go shower and then come in to work regardless of having the day off. This is an outstanding indicator of the character of these Seabees in NMCB 3.”
“We have been having four-, five- and even six-mile runs during command PT every week,” said Construction Mechanic 2nd Class Shawn Conley, command fitness leader. “Because we routinely train harder than the physical readiness test (PRT), the 10-mile run was actually easy for us.”
Throughout the rest of the week each company in Spain still holds PT at 5:30 a.m., each day but it’s modified based on company goals. Headquarters Company, consisting of the fleet support rates, would conduct yoga on Wednesdays while allowing their Sailors to focus on fitness goals, such as weight loss or strength building, on Thursdays. Delta Company, responsible for vertical construction projects, uses the other days of the week to conduct small unit PT that consists of calisthenics and short runs. Meanwhile, Alfa Company, responsible for horizontal construction and equipment maintenance, focused on long distance running.
The variety of fitness is not limited to the main group of Seabees in Spain. In Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti, the Seabees hold PT as a large group every Monday and the rest of the week they break up into smaller groups to conduct cross fit, circuit training or sometimes just a focus on core or upper body strengthening.
“We try to incorporate high-intensity interval training, which helps enhance metabolic conditioning in a shorter timeframe,” said Navy Counselor 2nd Class Norman Patton, assistant command fitness leader. “The goal was to change the way our Seabees looked at fitness, and to give the knowledge on how to attain a successful fitness program on their own.”
“I have lost 40 lbs since I have been deployed to Djibouti,” said Utilitiesman Constructionman Michael Arnold. “I feel that the support from shipmates along with self determination to increase my physical shape and personal health were the main contributors in my successful weight loss.”
In Tan Tan, Morocco, 26 of NMCB 3’s Seabees held PT at 5:30 p.m., every day. Frequently it consisted of 3.5-mile cross country runs across the desert dunes and hard dirt. Seabees in Morocco alternated their training by following the Navy Operational Fitness and Fueling Series (NOFS) workouts using resistance bands, and sometimes beach runs and games of ultimate frisbee. Once a week they challenged their Moroccan army counterparts to a game of soccer.
“The weekly soccer matches with our Moroccan counterparts are great cardio workouts and provide interaction that we would not have otherwise. Win-win in my book,” said Builder 3rd Class Romas Andrijauskas.
In Sigonella, Sicily, Seabees have some group PT sessions conducted by MWR fitness trainers or they have gym days where they can focus on weight lifting or cardio.
”The variety of workouts they are doing and the opportunity to built their own fitness routine really helped – also making right choices when it comes to meals,” said Master Chief Utilitiesman Barry Bender, NMCB 3 senior enlisted leader in Djibouti. “Good leadership was key to our success. We made sure that the troops who needed a little motivation or a little push had the help they needed, whether it was with fitness or nutrition.”