By Jim Dresbach, Pentagram Staff WriterApril 22, 2013
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HAL, Va. - HITT is an acronym for high intensity tactical training, and the Marine side of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall has become one of 35 HITT centers worldwide which will embrace a comprehensive pre-deployment, deployment and post deployment physical fitness regimen.
The Henderson Hall HITT training center was officially opened April 15 following a ribbon-cutting at the Cpl. Terry L. Smith Gymnasium. During ceremony remarks, Col. Ira M. Cheatham, Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall commanding officer, thanked Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) Henderson Hall and all who assisted in the formation of the center.
The colonel then personally endorsed and challenged all HQ Battalion Marines to tackle the HITT training program.
"[HITT] will wear you out," Cheatham said. "I did a couple sample exercises, and I thought I was in pretty good shape, but I'll tell you, when you're doing [HITT], it shows you're not in the greatest shape, and you can always be working on ... total body fitness.
"Everybody is going to want to come over here and use this," the colonel continued. "We are going to make sure they have an opportunity to do that. We are going to make sure they do it the right way. What we want to do in the Marine Corps is to get stronger [and] not get more broken. In order to get stronger, we have to have the right equipment."
In many Marines' eyes, the right equipment is now in place. The center, which is located in the boxing area of the gym complex, was assembled in March and the collection of bars reaches a height of 12 feet and is 14 feet long and six feet wide. Six various exercises, ranging from lunges, jumps and workouts with ropes and medicine balls, are centered on or near the vicinity of "the rack." Following the ribbon-cutting, a HITT demonstration outlined the parameters and objectives of the training center.
"We developed the right program for combat readiness - high intensity tactical training," said Ryan Massimo, Marine Corps Semper Fit combat fitness specialist and HITT program manager, during the fitness center run-through. "This is designed for combat readiness.
There are three phases to the entire program: a pre-deployment phase, the deployment phase and post-deployment. This is to keep us at peak physical condition if we should deploy."
Work-out Marines will challenge HITT at the multi-station exercise center where exercises are repeated during 30-second intervals and Marines will rotate from station to station. Three different types of programs - warrior HITT, which works on explosive power; combat HITT, which works on functional strength and endurance, and athlete HITT, which will concentrate on basic strength and linear speed-will be utilized. One other objective of the HITT set-up is to minimize workout injuries.
One of the grand opening demonstrators, Henderson Hall Marine 1st Sgt. Christopher Lillie, considers himself "a seven or eight" on the fitness spectrum. He noted that HITT still hit home.
"This has humbled me, it breaks me," Lillie said. "You could be a number 10 [on the fitness scale] and this program will wear you out. [Those] six stations at 30 seconds at each station-it feels like I just spent two hours in the gym or that I just finished a three-mile run. This will become part of my regular workout routine."
Former Marine, current Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight fighter and HITT enthusiast Brian Stann was a special guest for the opening, and told the crowd he prefers a HITT workout compared to weightlifting. Stann, a Silver Star recipient, suffered joint trauma from excessive weight use, and noted gym injuries can and have drained the health out of a unit's roster.
"This HITT training center will help your Marines prepare for their deployments," the UFC fighter said. "They will be in peak physical condition. They will be at their best physically, and we all know [that] transfers mentally. When you are in better (physical) shape, it takes you much longer to become mentally exhausted."
Certified HITT instructor Marine Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Jackson mentioned that programs and workouts are currently being scheduled.
"There will be two sessions a day - one in the morning from zero six thirty to zero seven thirty and then [midday] from 11:30 to 12:30 and the class will run Monday, Wednesday and Friday," he said. "There will be combat, athlete and warrior HITT programs."
While the HITT exercise stations and programs were universally endorsed from Cheatham to the Marine demonstrators, Jackson's recommendation may have been the most telling for those preparing to deploy. "This program really got me ready for Afghanistan," the gunnery sergeant matter-of-factly said.