Here at the International Training Center we prepare foreign military personnel to attend follow on training in many U.S. military schools. We run prep classes for many different schools. Everything from Aviation to BUDS, EOD, dive school, Marine TBS, and lots of different technical schools. As you could guess the physical training we do varies widely, depending on what the follow on school is. However, the biggest hurdle we face with preparing these people isn’t running or pull-ups, it’s getting their heads in the game.
If you’ve never trained any international military people, let me sum it all up for you in a simple sentence; They’re not in the American military. This doesn’t mean they aren’t smart and/or courageous. Nor does it mean they are all overweight and out of shape. I’ve known (a few) that were some very tough bastards, who could out fight, and PT the average U.S. military member into the ground. What I’m talking about here is getting the majority of them to understand why we (as the American military), think that being overweight and out of shape is a bad thing.
For us it’s simple to understand; A high level of physical fitness is absolutely required to prepare our people for combat, and a trim physically fit leader sets the right example to his people. Trying to explain this obvious concept to some other militaries can be unbelievably frustrating sometimes. Some get it, many don’t. I recently had a Lt. (I won’t mention his country) tell me that he wasn’t worried that he couldn’t do a single pull-up, because he would soon be promoted to Capt, and nobody expects a Capt to PT? Really? I asked him wouldn’t you feel like a wimp that you can’t do a pull-up, ESPECIALLY as a officer? He looked at me like I was crazy?
I bring this all up to illustrate a simple point. Without any shame in the game it’s hard to motivate people to get in shape. The same thing goes for the civilian world. As our country has become more overweight and sickly (check the growing rates of diabetes, and obesity), there is also a new requirement to be more politically correct and nice about how we speak about this. When I came in the Marine Corps in 1981, overweight people were referred to by everyone as: “Fat Bodies”. I guess that was insulting, and frankly meant to be so to get people off their ass, and get in shape. Try calling somebody that today and watch what happens?
Of course it’s not because they eat fast food like they’re possessed, and shine a chair with their butt 24/7 playing video games. It’s due to stress, hormones, gluten, carbs, or maybe even a bad childhood? Give me a break please, I know better. People need to wake up, as we are headed for a crisis in this county, both physically and financially with the worsening health of our population (note the chart below). However we’re supposed to all feel better about being overweight and just accept it. Otherwise your being a judgmental dick? Well I for one think a little shame could go a long way. Just the Master Gunny in me I guess, but to me a fat body is still a fat body, and if you can’t do a single pull-up, you shouldn’t be in a leadership position. Sorry.
Be safe always, good when you can.