BUFFALO, N.Y. --
The Marine Corps is one of the toughest fighting forces today and prides itself on being able to fight in any place against any enemy and in any of the elements. For Scott Kesler, a 22-year old Reserve Marine who grew up in the small town of Conneaut Lake, Pennsylvania, fitness has become a way of life for him and many others who have joined the ranks.
“Fitness has always been a passion for me, I love crazy workouts and doing CrossFit. At the gym I’m a personal trainer,” Kesler said. “There I have learned a lot from trainers and the importance of dieting, I just enjoy it.”
As rifleman with Company C, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division in Buffalo, New York, a high level of fitness is a job requirement.
Though the Marine Corps fitness culture appealed to Kesler, the most significant reason he decided to become a Marine was his grandfather.
“My grandfather was my main motivation because I actually grew up without a father and he was the father figure in my life,” said Kesler. “He taught me everything I knew growing up, he passed away three and a half years ago but he is still always with me.”
Kesler added that most important thing he learned from his grandfather was that a hard work ethic beats talent any day.
“He was the hardest-working man I knew and a strong family man, so I hope to continue in those same footsteps and carry out his legacy and make him proud.”
Although his grandfather was not a Marine, he motivated Kesler, who joined to make him proud. Before passing, Kesler’s grandfather saw him graduate boot camp and move on to the School of Infantry.
Through SOI and his current unit, Kesler has learned a great deal about what it means to be physically fit as a Marine. Recently, Kesler’s unit traveled to Ontario, Canada, to conduct cold-weather mountain warfare training with the Canadian Armed Forces. They learned survival techniques, how to operate in the arctic environment, conducted reconnaissance patrols and raids across rough terrain, and took away valuable lessons from their Canadian counterparts.
“The Marine Corps definitely has a big fitness aspect to it especially for what we did this weekend in Burwash, Ontario. The night raid we went on was a great display of our physical capabilities,” Kesler explained.
Being physically capable is a huge factor for Marines; it is something Kesler thinks is an essential part of being able to complete any mission they are tasked with.
“Marines have to be physically fit on the battlefield. Your fitness level should never be a factor or problem when in combat,” Kesler said. “When you're in a life or death situation, you must be able to protect yourself and the Marines around you or the ones who are under you. I always tell the Marines who are in my fire team this, ‘You should be fully capable of saving someone in a stressful and life or death environment, it doesn't matter how tired you may feel, you have to perform at all times, regardless of the situation.’”
Though Kesler trains to be physically fit as both a Marine and a personal trainer, the fitness requirements between the two vary.
Some of it definitely crosses over but it differs because much of the fitness requirement is long humps in the Marine Corps,” Kesler said. “What I do as far as fitness outside of the Corps focuses more on weight training, but it all helps.”
Kesler added that he also offers advice from what he has learned as a personal trainer in the civilian world to his fellow Marines.
“I try to provide advice especially when something like a physical fitness test is coming up and they want to get more pull ups, I always help out the guys the best I can.”
Kesler believes fitness is important for not only Marines but everyone in general. For him, it is a way of life and something he has been able to balance between the Corps and civilian world. He has worked hard to find that balance between being a Marine, personal trainer, and student. His long term goals are to pursue his passion and receive a degree from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, as a health and education teacher.