MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. --
Marine Corps Recruiting Command has delivered guidance to recruiters, officer selection officers and recruiting support personnel with an eye on improving the upper body strength of female poolees and officer candidates before the implementation of new Physical Fitness Test (PFT) standards in 2014.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2014, female Marines, recruits and officer candidates will no longer perform a flexed arm-hang during their PFT. Instead, they will be required to perform dead-hang pull-ups as male Marines and applicants do now.
MCRC released guidance in February that provides a physical fitness program and reporting guidelines for recruiters to train and monitor the progress of their pool.
“We are looking forward to gathering data to see how effective upper-body-strength-development training is for females in our pool,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey C. Smitherman, assistant chief of staff, G-3, Marine Corps Recruiting Command. “The sooner females in the pool start training, the sooner they can start to succeed.”
To give females a start in their upper-body-strength-development training, MCRC provided OSOs and recruiters the Female Poolee PFT Preparation Program, a three-day-a-week, six week training program.
“The canvassing recruiter plays the key role in all aspects of preparing the poolee for recruit training,” said Smitherman. “Recruiters play the role of mentor, leader and example of what a Marine should be for their pool.”
According to one recruiter who has started the program with her pool, the new training plan will go to great lengths in preparing female poolees for what is coming next.
“The Female Poolee PFT Preparation Program will set female poolees up for success,” said Staff Sgt. Geronima Cruz, canvassing recruiter, Recruiting Substation Duluth, Ga. “It will prepare them to meet and exceed the new physical fitness standards once they are in effect. By starting training now, we are being proactive versus reactive.”
While helping females prepare for the new PFT, upper-body-strength-development training will also aid them in completing recruit training or Officer Candidate School on schedule.
“Developing upper-body strength will give female recruits and officer candidates a boost in confidence and is critical to success during their initial training,” said Smitherman. “The stronger an individual is, whether they are improving their upper-body-strength, core strength or stamina, the more resilient they become to injuries or other setbacks.”
Workouts in the Female Poolee PFT Prep Program are specifically designed to be completed with limited resources. Keeping in mind that not every poolee or officer candidate has regular access to gym facilities, recruiters and OSOs are being issued flex bands to assist females doing pull-ups.
Flex bands are large, elastic rubber bands that are attached to a pull-up bar and the person mounting it. The bands, which are color coded to indicate the level of resistance provided, allow poolees and officer candidates to progressively decrease the level of assistance they receive until they reach the point of doing unassisted, dead-hang pull-ups.
“The Marine Corps is migrating toward a more uniform physical fitness standard and that is a good thing,” said Capt. Mark E. Weingram, OSO, Recruiting Station Frederick, Md. “My female applicants have embraced the challenge and are excited to get started with the new program.”
Rising to the challenge and displaying the discipline and commitment to stick to the program will be essential for female applicants moving forward.
“Recruiter involvement, like mentorship and physical training, is important for a poolee’s future success,” said Cruz. “Poolees, however, need to put forth their best effort to get ready for the new physical fitness standards. If they put in the effort they will see the results.”
To learn more about the Female Poolee PFT Preparation Program or get a copy for yourself, visit https://fitness.usmc.mil/FPFT/Pages/Poolee%20Program.aspxb.