CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan --
Stress. We all deal with it. From the jobs we work to relationship problems, some stress is a part of life. Excess stress, however, can be harmful to your health and decreases productivity. One Washington, D.C., native finds an escape from the stresses of deployment in physical fitness.
Gunnery Sgt. Michael L. Woods, an information security technician with the Communication and Information Systems section, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), helps bring unit cohesion and balance to the work environment by helping his Marines stay physically and mentally fit.
Being deployed for an entire year can be quite a challenge in a combat zone for Woods and his Marines, working seven days a week to ensure communication networks remain operational and secure. Daily work requirements combined with family concerns back home can cause pressure to build and create a stressful atmosphere.
Woods works to counter these stressors by giving his Marines a break from their daily tasks to visit the “house of pain.”
“Sure it takes a lot of energy and sweat, but strangely enough, the house of pain actually refreshes me,” said Woods. “And I know Marines always love a challenge, so when they tag along to go lift weights, they get away from work and have fun at the same time.”
Woods incorporates a mixture of cardio and weight workouts to keep his Marines guessing. It could be a chest and back workout one day and pure abs the next day. The Marines in the section have learned quickly that breaking away from the office during the day isn’t such a bad idea; it provides a break from the long workdays while building camaraderie and unit cohesion at the same time.
“It’s another way to get to know my Marines,” explained Woods. “The gym environment is much less tense than work, so the Marines are much more at ease. Just being another guy in the gym, they tend to level with you.”
Hitting the gym also gives Woods and his Marines a fresh start in the office when they return.
“From day to day, everybody gets stressed out about work,” explained Staff Sgt. Monica Gabaldon, a spectrum manager with the section and an Artesia, N.M., native. “Going to workout, you just let go of everything and it’s just you, the Marines and your music. That makes coming back to work so much better.”
Gabaldon, who answers radio frequency requests and provides call signs to all division units, and the rest of Wood’s Marines also agreed their work ethic becomes more efficient when both their minds and bodies are refreshed. Woods said he hopes that will carry the section throughout the deployment and help the Marines accomplish their mission.
“I think everyone needs a release. This is our release, and we’re going to continue as long as we’re on this deployment,” said Woods. “As long as we keep it up, it will help us provide better services to the Marines we support.”