The Corps plans to hire a slew of athletic trainers, and come October Marines will likely notice a new healthier food menu and layout at their respective chow halls.
It’s all part of an effort by the Corps to reduce injuries across the force and cater to combat athletes in similar fashion to division one collegiate players.
The new chow facilities or “athletic kitchens” will boast healthier options with fresh fruit and vegetables up front. There will be a cold bar option with yogurt, granola and fresh fruit in the morning and a salad bar for lunch and dinner.
“As you go through the line it’s going to be the green stuff,” Col. Stephen Armes, the director of the Force Fitness Division told Marine Corps Times in an interview. “All the healthy stuff is going to be up front.”
The new chow halls are going to resemble college athletic dining facilities with fresh greens and an assortment of healthy proteins, according to Armes.
But unhealthy food is not disappearing, the Corps just plans to make it harder for you to choose that option.
“Sometimes you just need a cheeseburger, there’s nothing wrong with that,” Armes said. But, a Marine is “going to have to fight to get down to that cheeseburger.”
The Corps is also on the verge of hiring new athletic trainers separate from the nearly 600 Force Fitness Instructors already fielded across the Marines.
The new trainers will be civilian contractors with five years of division one collegiate or professional level experience, according to Armes.
The Corps is hiring the first 10 trainers in six weeks, with 33 slated for fiscal year 2019 and a total of about 130 by FY 22.
The goal according to Armes, is to get more than one athletic trainer to every regiment and group in the Corps.
The new trainers will help track and reduce injuries across the force. Marines will be able to consult with the trainers on a number of fitness issues to include injuries. If a Marine’s back is tight he can go to the trainer to get help, Armes explained.
“The idea is to compliment Navy medicine” but not replace it, Armes added.
The Corps has already succesfully experimented with athletic trainers at the recruit depots and the School of Infantry dating back to 2003.
But there were none in the operational forces, according to Armes.
While the Corps hires new trainers and revamps its dining facilities the Marines are also experimenting with new performance nutrition packs at Officer Candidates School aboard Quantico, Virginia.
The new nutrition packs are high in carbohydrates and include food like fruit and granola.
The idea is to use the food packs to supplement the void between evening chow and morning breakfast and replace lost glycogen, which fuels muscle production.
The new nutrition packs are at the recruit depots now as well, and Marines at recruit training are also getting supplemental cliff bars.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.