Okinawa Marine maintains physical readiness in the COVID-19 environment

Okinawa Marine maintains physical readiness in the COVID-19 environment

by Staff Sgt. Lucas Vega
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

Cpl. Avery Luengo with G-6, Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCIPAC – Marine Corps Base Camp Smedley D. Butler, eats more than 3000 calories a day.

He also drinks a gallon of water every day.

The excess calories and water, support his active lifestyle as a Marine in conjunction with his strict 5-day-a-week bodybuilding and CrossFit routine.

“I don’t have to get [physically] ready, if I stay ready,” said Luengo, a passionate fitness enthusiast who has been stationed on Okinawa for more than two years. “There’s no finish line, this is a constant game. There are goals as Marines that are bigger than the obstacles that get in our way.”

In addition to Luengo’s intense training regiment, meticulous diet and his daily duties as a communications Marine, his discipline is being challenged more than ever. He now has a few more rules to follow in order to remain at his physical peak.

When Luengo arrives at the gym for his first of two daily workouts, he checks-in with a gym employee who notes his information for contact-tracing purposes. The gym employee verifies his possession of a towel and facial covering. Luengo then confirms his hands are washed. Finally, he also agrees to wipe down his gym equipment before and after use.

This new normal is now the price of admission to use Gunner’s Gym on Camp Foster.

“Marines are required to maintain physical fitness standards, operational readiness and body composition at all times,” stated Luengo. “Even during a global pandemic, this is still something we have to get done as Marines.”

Luengo, along with every other gym-goer who patronizes fitness centers across Marine Corps camps on Okinawa, are also mandated to follow the same rules in order to be granted access to these facilities.

“Marines have appreciated our efforts to reopen fitness centers on Okinawa in a disciplined and measured manner that ensures appropriate mitigating actions are in place to ensure their safety—and we appreciate their cooperation and compliance as we’ve phased-in activities,” said Bob Johnston, Semper Fit Chief for Marine Corps Community Services Okinawa. “We’ll continue to adhere to this ‘new normal’ for working out in a COVID-19 environment for as long as it takes to develop a vaccine or to defeat the virus in some other way. Until then, we’ll continue to adapt and overcome in supporting Marines safely at our fitness centers island-wide.”

Marine Corps Installation Pacific leadership has implemented a variety of guidelines on Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among status of forces agreement members and host-nation neighbors within the local community.

Some of these mitigation measures include the basic wearing of facial coverings, practicing social distancing and washing one’s hands for 20 seconds. More elaborate measures included prohibiting Marine Forces Japan and III Marine Expeditionary service members, dependents, SOFA status civilians and contractors from patronizing bars, clubs and even prohibited close-contact sports like wrestling.

For a short period of time, Luengo was barred from using the off-base CrossFit facility where he is currently a member.

“I don’t think these rules are a lot to ask for,” said Luengo, who recently applied for the Marine Security Guard program. “It’s a little uncomfortable, but we do things that are uncomfortable all the time. It’s not a big deal to do extra things that are for everyone’s safety.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that the COVID-19 virus spreads easily and sustainably throughout the community. More specifically, there is an increased risk of transmission in confined spaces like fitness studios.

Marine Corps Community Services operates all fitness centers across Marine Corps camps' on Okinawa. MCCS has implemented mitigation measures in order to keep gyms operational. Enhanced cleaning, sanitizing, social distancing and mandated facial coverings by gym-goers are among the main guidelines in place to protect the force.

MCCS also said that implementing and maintaining mitigating actions to keep our Marines and other gym-goers safe is absolutely essential to minimize the community spread of COVID-19 on Marine Corps installations. They also mentioned that it is important for the safety and well-being of our Marines, Sailors and families, and our host-country neighbors on Okinawa.

“The gym is still providing the services and rules are there to protect us,” said Luengo.”

“We are all in this together and we all have to do our part.”

For more information about COVID-19 visit or e-mail:

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