CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- Civil Affairs Group Marines go out into the local communities to find ways to assist Iraqis, but sometimes they help out their fellow service members.
Representatives from the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Gym recently presented three 5th CAG Marines with letters of appreciation for turning an idea during their daily workouts to a project to motivate others get fit.
“We found the gym here had a lot to offer, but they needed better equipment and needed to encourage more Marines, sailors and soldiers to come,” said Maj. Fredrick Mickle, an Elk Grove, Calif., resident and a reserve Marine.
Mickle, 43, was one of the Marines, who worked on making over the gym. He flexed his knowledge from running an Athletes Foot store, which specializes in assisting athletes with finding the right footwear, to help shape the concept of renaming the gym and coming up with fitness contests.
“We sat down and helped them develop a marketing plan,” Mickle said. “Instead of calling it the “MWR,” we thought to give the gym a name.”
Mickle, Sgt. Jack Williams of Orange, Calif., and Cpl. Zachary Hosford of Towson, Md., came up with a new name – the “Fallujah Body Shop.”
“It started out as joking around,” said Hosford, 24, who was inspired by Mickle and Williams to increase his weightlifting regime.
The three Marines brainstormed ideas to earn t-shirts and then came up with a contest. If a person could lift a certain amount of weight, they would get a t-shirt, said Hosford.
“Well, I collect t-shirts and I have one from every gym that I have worked out in,” said Williams, 43, who began weightlifting in high school. “From California, Florida and Okinawa, I have a gym shirt. And when I found out that they did not have one here. I wanted to help create one.”
And so Williams, Mickle and Hosford designed a t-shirt.
The Fallujah Body Shop lifting competition requires that you lift 300 pounds to earn a t-shirt. There is also a shirt for those who can lift 400 pounds.
“I feel that the impact will be huge,” said Williams. “Every month a 300 or 400 bench press competition – it builds gym spirit and bragging rights that anyone can achieve as long as you work at it”.
Williams began weightlifting competitively in the Marine Corps and even trained for the Armed Forces Classic Body Building Competition in 1989.
“So far Hosford, Williams and I have shirts,” said Mickle, who said he has t-shirts for both the 300 and 400 pound lifts.
Mickle is 5 feet 11 inches tall and currently weighs 210 pounds and has always included weights in his workouts. When he ran track at the Citadel, he weighed 165 pounds.
“I was lean muscle and not bulk,” Mickle said. “Over time, things change. Weights have always been a part of my health and fitness.”
This is something that Mickle shares with Hosford and Williams.
Hosford was always physically active. He played lacrosse for 17 years and was even involved in one national championship in college.
“I think I always had a good foundation for lifting,” Hosford said. “Sgt. Williams and Maj. Mickle have made a huge difference in my working out and when I go home I will continue to maintain it.”