Men's Health

Under ressure

“YOU’LL NOTICE WE WORK OUT NEXT TO THE BOMBS,” says Petty Officer Corey Shores, the command fitness leader for the USS North Dakota, nodding at a long metal tube in the submarine’s torpedo room, which doubles as a gym, at least until war breaks out. This particular MK 48 torpedo is nicknamed Claire, which has been scrawled in marker on the tip by those who may one day stuff it into a launcher and fire it off. Claire carries 1,000 pounds of high-explosive incendiary that is designed to detonate underneath an enemy ship. It’s a powerful reminder of the mission.

“We have four torpedoes on board,” says Shores, a 29-year-old from North Carolina who has a square jaw to match his broad shoulders. He’s primarily a “nuke” who operates the reactor in the North Dakota’s engine room, but Shores also oversees the fitness of the 138-person crew, a “collateral duty” that he takes almost as seriously as his primary mission. He’s a gym rat who volunteered for the job, which required a recommendation from his commanding officer and a five-day training program.

As command fitness leader, Shores is responsible for making sure everyone on the boat passes the semiannual Physical Readiness Test—a sequence of events that measures aerobic capacity, strength, and muscular endurance. He’s also there to ensure that crew members don’t lose their minds, a very real concern when you’re deployed on a pressurized tube of steel that may not surface for three months. And then he’s got to maintain the gym equipment, “which can be a hassle when you’ve got all those guys using one treadmill,” he says.

Working out is complicated when you’re on deployment. Time is limited, as are facilities. Most Navy ships have large spaces—not to mention open decks—where sailors can break a sweat. Aircraft carriers have gyms, and even basketball hoops that can be rolled out. But the men, or any of the other 84 subs in the U. S. Navy’s fleet, lack such luxuries. There is virtually no personal space, and any large space has more than one purpose. It’s not an environment conducive to training.

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