The Marine Corps launched the first phase of a force fitness web application designed to help Marines schedule and monitor workouts to ensure a balanced fitness plan is followed and to help prevent injuries.
The program, launched Nov. 5 from the force fitness division, has a workout of the day program, with videos that Marines can follow for a quick daily exercise, and a planner for units to map out physical training, Col. Stephen Armes, the director of the Force Fitness Division, told Marine Corps Times in a Wednesday interview.
Future versions will be able to upload biometric data and information on individual workouts Marines do, similar to other workout apps on the market, he said.
The main feature for the current version of the app gives the Corps’ force fitness instructors, known as FFIs, access to a planner where they can create their unit’s training schedule and share it with all the Marines who use the program, Armes said.
The feature allows Marines whose units have a FFI to see what they will be doing for morning physical training up to a month out, the director said.
The release will help simplify the job of the FFIs who previously used several different methods to create the workout plans and pass it down to the unit, he said.
There are "a lot of different apps out there for fitness, none of them really had everything that we need on there, so we basically created our own,” Armes said.
“The force fitness instructors were doing their programs and their programs are pretty in depth,” he added. “They were doing all this on whatever program they could find, sometimes it was spreadsheets, all this has been digitized now for the FFI.”
The app also has a wheel that shows the different types of workouts the FFIs are planning and acts as a stopgap that will warn them if they are creating a dangerously imbalanced plan.
He said the “checks and balances” built into the program is what separates ForceFit from civilian fitness apps.
“On the civilian side they don’t have those stopgaps, you can load in there I want you to do 1,000 jumping jacks every day and there is nothing that stops the system from telling you, hey this isn’t right," Armes said.
“Our system throws those red flags up saying, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’”
The planning elements ― partnered with a feature that has Marines self-report how they feel after each workout ― gives FFIs and leaders more information than ever on the fitness level and health of their units, Armes said.
“The unit commander, unit leadership, FFI can start tracking what are the trends we’re seeing, because Marines self report, ‘I’m feeling fatigued today, I got this injury, something feels off,’”and use those trends to prevent injuries and improve fitness, Armes said.
While the app currently relies on self-reporting for these trends, Armes said that future versions will be able to track biometric data, which can be synced from wearable technology like smart watches. That will give FFIs even more data to check on the fitness and health of the Marines.
“I have an athlete now and I put in workouts ... if the heart rate is elevated during that workout, I know somethings not right, they’re either sick, they’re overworked and I can start dialing that back," Armes said.
After the biometric update, Armes said, the Corps already has planned several more updates that will bring in more elements to help track and improve the Marine Corps’ fitness level.
The program can be accessed at https://fitforce.aptima.com/mobile/login.