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Enlistees with Recruiting Substation Reading execute the pull-up portion of the Initial Strength Test during the monthly RSS pool function on Feb. 11, 2017 in Wyomissing, Pa. Those waiting to attend recruit training are placed in a program designed to push them physically, spiritually and mentally in order to better prepare them for recruit training. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Matthew Myers/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Matthew Myers

Forged through Fitness: Preparing men and women for the title Marine

6 Mar 2017 | Sgt Matthew Myers 1st Marine Corps District

This session of training is but one of the many that these young men and women will endure as they harden mind and body, forging flesh into iron, as they prepare themselves for their journey to the title of Marine.
For many, this process begins when they swear in to become Marines. Those waiting to attend recruit training are called poolees. All poolees enter into the Delayed Entry Program, or DEP, a program that pushes them physically, spiritually and mentally so they are better prepared for the 13 weeks of recruit training.
“The thing is, when you enter into the DEP, you will be challenged in multiple ways,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Fernando San Luis Jr., a career recruiter. “We focus a lot on the physical aspect because it takes time for many new poolees to build up to the standards they need to meet.”
Poolees typically meet every Saturday with their recruiter for a workout designed to improve their overall fitness with additional focus on pull-ups, crunches and run time.
“The minimum for a male to go to recruit training is two pull-ups, 44 crunches in two minutes and a 13:30 mile and a half run. For females it’s one pull-up, 44 crunches in two minutes and a 15 minute run time,” said San Luis, from San Fernando City, Philippines. “Those are just the minimum standards though. As a Marine, you don’t rest on the minimum.”
The workouts are designed to push poolees past their comfort zones in order to help them make dramatic improvements, according to San Luis.
The average poolee takes around three to four months to work up to these standards, said San Luis, who has 17 years of experience in training poolees. They can expect to participate in a wide range of physical training regiments including weight-lifting, cross-fit style workouts, track and field, calisthenics and plyometric exercises.
“I’ve been training with the Marines since last May,” said Gene Fertig, a senior at North Schuylkill High School and Marine poolee. “It’s one of the most motivating things I’ve ever done – you put in the work here every month, and you are guaranteed to see improvements.”

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