Marines at six U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) stations are the first to participate in the new High Intensity Tactical Training (HITT) strength and conditioning program that will be rolled out across the branch by January 2012.

Like programs recently launched in other branches of the military, the HITT program is based on principles of functional fitness. It is designed to ensure that active-duty Marines are combat ready, says Ryan Massimo, combat fitness program manager for the USMC.

Semper Fit, which is run by the USMC’s department of Sports, Recreation and Fitness, is beta-testing HITT at Marine Corps air stations Miramar (CA) and New River (NC), Marine Corps bases Camp Lejeune (NC), Pendleton (CA) and Quantico (VA), and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms (CA). After the trials, the program will be launched at all Marine stations in the United States and abroad, Massimo says.

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The HITT program will be supported by specially equipped HITT fitness centers, many of which will be located in repurposed unused facilities or updated existing functional fitness centers.

However, at least one new facility is being built with the program in mind. Due to open on April 1, 2012, at New River, the 4,000-square-foot facility will cost less than $750,000 to construct, Massimo says.

The New River facility will have some cardio and selectorized strength equipment, but because the program promotes functional training, most of the center will be dedicated to strength and agility equipment, including kettle bells, power racks and parachute pulls, plus indoor tracks and turf.

All of the HITT center trainers will be certified strength and conditioning coaches. About 70 percent of the coaches are civilians, another 25 percent are former military personnel and about 5 percent are active-duty Marines.