The Corps is working on a new phone fitness app that will aid Marines in programing fitness routines to tracking injuries across a unit, and the Marines want the app to complement wearable tech like the popular Fitbit fitness trackers.

The new application will help the Corps’ nearly 600 Force Fitness Instructors, or FFIs, create balanced fitness regimens that could support the force’s goal of reducing injuries and tracking overall fitness of a unit or individual Marine.

A Marine will be able to access the app through his phone and see what he is “going to be doing 30 days from now, next week, or tomorrow,” Col. Stephen Armes, the director of the Force Fitness Division, told Marine Corps Times in an interview.

And Marines will be able to self-report injuries on the app. The FFIs can then take those reports to build an injury database. The data will help the Corps track fitness injury rates.

The new app will also help curtail poorly planned fitness routines that can lead to injuries. A Marine programing the application must build a balanced workout plan that includes a mixture of mobility, strength, endurance, muscular, and flexibility, according to Armes.

The phone app will warn the programmer if a fitness regimen is not properly balanced.

The Corps is still working with the Office of Naval Research, and Marines can expect the app sometime later this year.

“We want to make sure all the bugs are out of the system,” Armes said.

The next phase of the program will be integrating wearable tech like the Fitbit watches that track performance and health stats, according to Armes.

A Marine using the integrated tech can look at the phone app and see “you ran an 18-minute PFT, your heart rate was this, and here are your training zones,” Armes said, describing how the tools could benefit a Marine’s overall fitness.

To promote competition, the Corps considered using data pulled from the app and the wearable tech to build leaderboards to highlight the fastest runners on a particular PFT route, Armes cited as one example.

But the fallout after a heatmap from the popular GPS tracking Strava app indicated the locations and layouts of secret U.S. installations and small outpost across the globe has since forced the Corps to drop that plan.

Strava's Global Heatmap tracks activity of its app users via GPS. (Strava)
Strava's Global Heatmap tracks activity of its app users via GPS. (Strava)

“We are not going to do that,” Armes said.

In early August, the Defense Department officially banned the use of GPS tracking fitness apps or other geolocation features on devices in operational areas or deployed locations.

The new app will also allow units to share fitness plans.