Move it! Get in shape with the Marine Corps’ Daily 7

A cadet jogging at military school

Move it! Get in shape with the Marine Corps’ Daily 7

Finding Motivation

Almost every one of my friends from college made the same exact New Year’s resolution: to lose weight. I remember seeing long lines of students waiting outside the campus recreation center. That gymnasium must have collected two hundred memberships the first day it re-opened in January. By February, however, the equipment seemed only to collect dust.

When it comes to fitness, people end up biting off more than they can chew—and in this case, literally. Where did the motivation go? My friend Johnathan said he really couldn’t afford the workout fees, while my friend Amanda simply lost enthusiasm early on. I myself didn’t resolve to exercise this year, but I wanted to support them and help them achieve their goal.

Other than physical appearance and long-term wellness, there are other really good reasons to slim down, especially if you’re a college student like myself or a recent college grad trying to break into a career. Studies show that exercise helps you perform better in school and at work. All the online articles that I read basically said that exercise has positive effects on the body AND mind! Working out keeps you mentally sharp and gives you more energy. I also read a few interesting articles that show a positive correlation between physical fitness and career success (more $$$!!!).

I ended up motivating my friends and myself, so I set out to find a local fitness guru for some words of advice. What I found was a Marine.

Exercise the Military School Way

SgtMaj Ford Kinsley, commandant of cadets for Marine Military Academy (MMA), knows all about fitness. He works with teenage boys and takes them from sedentary and out-of-shape to active, lean and strong. So, how exactly is it done? SgtMaj Kinsley explained.

Step 1: Exercise first thing in the morning. Wake up an hour earlier.

cadet doing a push-up at military schoolThe cadets at MMA wake up at 5:55 a.m. each school day. According to SgtMaj Kinsley, the early morning rise gives them plenty of time to exercise, eat and get ready for the school day. (They even have time to clean their rooms!)

“Try waking up an hour earlier so you have time to exercise,” he said. “Some people aren’t natural morning people, but you can actually change that over time. If you wake up earlier and exercise, you’ll actually be more alert when you get to school or work and you’ll have more energy throughout the day.”

If morning workouts just don’t pan out, then do evening workouts. Though every day is better, even just few solid days out of the week can actually make a big difference.

Step 2: Just do it! Form the habit.

“You don’t need to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. You just need to do it,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. “The idea is to move your body and get your heart rate up and your blood pressure going.”

At MMA, the cadets do PT (physical training) for 40 minutes three days a week. They do what is known as the Marine Corps’ Daily 7.

SgtMaj Kinsley broke it down for me:

Side straddle hops or jumping jacks: From a standing position, jump and land with your legs apart. As you jump out, raise your arms and bend them above your head. Jump back with your legs together and your arms back at your side. Repeat.

Push ups: Facing down, put your hands on the floor in a wide position and straighten your legs. With your heels together, push up with your arms. Repeat.

Mountain climbers: Facing down, put your hands on the floor shoulder-length apart with your legs bent and heels together. Jump one leg forward and the other back. Do the same thing with the alternate leg. Repeat.

Bends and thrusts or squat thrusts: From a standing position, squat down and put your hands on the floor shoulder-length apart. Kick both of your legs out and land them with the heels together. Kick your legs back to the squatting position and stand up. Repeat.

Leg lifts: Lie down with a flat back and lift both legs with the heels together as high as possible. Repeat.

Flutter kicks: Lie down with a flat back and lift one leg six inches high and do the same with the alternate leg. Repeat.

Crunches: Lie down on the floor with a flat back. Bend the legs and keep them shoulder-length apart. Cross your arms. Without moving your legs, lift your upper body up and stop before the elbows touch the knees. Recline back down. Repeat.

A cadet doing a crunch at military school Not everyone can start off doing 50 repetitions of the Marine Corps’ Daily 7, but the important thing to take away is to perform the exercises correctly and to the best of your ability. Then just build up.

“Most of our new cadets cannot keep up with our other cadets when they first start, but they just do their best and they catch up fairly quickly,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. “The hardest part about working out really isn’t the exercises. It’s the habit. Exercise should be a habit, part of your daily schedule.”

Yes! I finally learned the secret to staying slim and trim: Make exercise a lifestyle! Exercise isn’t something that should only be done once or twice a week — or for only a few weeks after the gluttonous holidays! For it to work its magic, exercise needs to be done consistently.

Step 3: Do activities that require activity.

Exercise can be more than running or pull ups. It can be sports or any activity that requires actual activity.

“In the afternoon, our cadets all have to participate in an activity after school, such as baseball, weightlifting or band,” SgtMaj Kinsley said. “Activities allow them to have fun and get some exercise.”

Cutting down on sedentary activities, such as movies or video games, will help anyone get more exercise. In fact, the cadets at MMA are not allowed to engage in these type of “activities” at all during the week.

What a concept! Spend less time on the computer and t.v. and do something that actually makes you stand up!

Most of the cadets get used to the active lifestyle, according to SgtMaj Kinsley. In fact, many of them choose to spend part of their weekend doing community service. Though many cadets enjoy going to the movies, they also enjoy other activities that require a little bit more physical effort, such as bowling and roller skating.

Though SgtMaj Kinsley and I didn’t talk about diet, I gathered enough advice from this Marine to help me and my friends begin our fitness journey. I realized that fitness is just like any other goal you want to achieve in life. If it’s important to you, you just have to make the time, put in the effort and stick with it … or as my Marine friend would say, “You just have to walk the walk.”

dbanda copyDanielle Banda is a communications major at the University of Texas at Brownsville.

Marine Military Academy is an all boys private college preparatory boarding school. For more information about MMA visit our website: