COMBAT OUTPOST REILLY, Afghanistan — There’s nothing like a combat zone gymnasium to make you feel like a doughy, wimpy scrub.
At least that’s the experience I had after checking out the gym here today. I’m a gym rat myself and a veteran of Washington, D.C.’s summer softball leagues, but with the air temperature soaring well above 100 degrees, I was surprised to see Lance Cpl. Joseph Roncolato and Cpl. Mikah Rust, both assigned to Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, pumping iron as though they were in the air-conditioning at their neighborhood Gold’s Gym.
The gym is a sight to behold. A combination of boards, pipes, pulleys, chains, duct tape and sand bags, it allows Marines to work out pretty much every major muscle group. There’s enough room for about 10 people to exercise at one time, far better than the gyms I saw at Camp Hanson and Combat Outpost Yazzie.
Bench press? The Marines at Reilly have built a flat bench and an incline bench out of wood, and use a heavy pipe wrapped in chains as a barbell.
Tricep extensions? The Marines built a pulley system that can be adjusted by adding or subtracting sand bags.
Bicep curls? There are a variety of ammo cans packed with dirt and a mysterious set of 40-pound dumbbells, which Roncolato and Rust guessed someone received in the mail.
In short, it’s a pretty nice setup – especially when you consider Reilly doesn’t have running water or an indoor chow hall.
As for the temperature, well, it looks like the Marines aren’t fans of working out in the heat, either.
“It could be cooler, but we’re used to it, I guess,” said Rust, his drenched T-shirt stuck to his skin.
“We actually had that conversation not that long ago,” Roncolato said. “Why are we out here working out at noon?”