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Marine Balances CrossFit, Job Duties

FORT EUSTIS, Va. - The sound of sneakers squeaking and basketballs bouncing on the court compete with the sound of music from the back of the gym. 

It is Wednesday, at 11:25 a.m., at the Anderson Field House here. In a corner past the basketball players, where the music is playing, people are stretching and waiting. 

Then, five minutes later, United States Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Juan Ospina comes into the middle of the mat, announcing what exercises are listed for their CrossFit workout of the day. The WOD: eight rounds of 10 overhead squats and 20 wall balls.

The scout sniper balances his duties as the lead Fort Eustis CrossFit instructor, Joint Task Force Civil Support’s physical training promotion coordinator and his regular responsibilities as the current operations noncommissioned officer in charge at JTF-CS.

“I provide weekly operations briefs to the commanding general and special staff at meetings,” said the Brooklyn, N.Y., native. “I also make sure the operations section is ready to rapidly deploy when called.”

JTF-CS anticipates, plans and prepares for chemical biological, radiological and nuclear Defense Support to Civil Authorities response operations. When directed, JTF-CS may deploy within 24 hours of notification in response to a natural or man-made disaster. 

When he can, Ospina leads CrossFit sessions three times a week here. He also coaches and motivates the participants. 

“I enjoy the variety of the workouts he leads. I enjoy his motivation, dedication and enthusiasm,” said Fred McKinnon, a civilian who works at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command and a regular member to Ospina’s workouts.

Ospina is an avid participant of CrossFit. He started the workouts six years ago while deployed to Iraq and received his instructor certification in July 2010 at Fort Eustis.

"When people come in here and do something they have never done before, stick to the program and start seeing changes both physically and mentally,” said Ospina. “That is what really motivates me.”

Ospina, who is retiring this summer from the Marine Corps, balances a successful military career, family life and staying physically fit with the support of his wife and son. 

“When I’m not working or leading a session at the Anderson Field House, I enjoy working out at home with my wife and son,” said the 39 year old. He has his own CrossFit gym at home.

“CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program predominantly used by first responders, military, law enforcement and professional athletes,” said Ospina. “It is becoming mainstream, and more folks are doing (CrossFit) for the ability to do things in everyday life. It breaks away from your traditional gym routine, and it’s always different and fun.”

The Williamsburg, Va., resident enjoys the diversity of CrossFit workouts and is satisfied at how this training has fit into his life.

“The reason I got involved in the beginning with CrossFit is because it breaks away from the traditional monotony of military-style physical training. We (the Marines) typically go for a run, do situps or pushups,” said Ospina. “I found with CrossFit, my recovery time is quicker. I was actually getting in better shape in less time, and it was easier on my body.”

As a CrossFit instructor, Ospina wanted to lead his unit’s physical conditioning program in this way. 

So he started the JTF-CS Physical Training program in August 2010 to help instill the benefits he has learned to his fellow coworkers. Back then, Ospina conducted CrossFit sessions twice a week. 

“Currently, the PT program is expanding,” Ospina said. “I envision this program encompassing other elements of fitness, like the TRX, a running group, CrossFit and Zumba.” 

Ospina stresses participating in physical activity is only one of many steps to living a healthy lifestyle. 

“Being fit in the military is part of the job,” said Ospina. “As a service member, we are supposed to look and act in a way that portrays a positive image to the American people.” 

Now, it is time to finish the WOD.

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Marine Corps Fitness