What the Day Demands

Petty Officer 1st Class Raymond Concepcion, a member of the Sector Hampton Roads Boarding Team, rests after a  workout Sept. 24, 2015 at Base Portsmouth.

Petty Officer 1st Class Raymond Concepcion, a member of the Sector Hampton Roads Boarding Team, rests after a workout Sept. 24, 2015 at Base Portsmouth.

When you wrestle Poseidon on a daily basis, you need to bring your A-game. The U.S. Coast Guard rescues boaters in rough seas, foul weather, icy and debris filled waters and somehow makes it looks easy. While they are often viewed as life savers, the men and women of the Coast Guard are also charged with enforcing maritime laws – a job that often places them in unpredictable situations. The difference in their success or failure could mean the difference between coming home alive or in a body bag. To increase their winning odds, boarding teams focus on the one key factor that can turn any bad situation to their advantage – physical fitness.

Concepcion is one of the members of the Maritime Enforcement Specialist rate, or ME, who safeguard our ports from illegal activity and threats to national security. A fairly new rate for the Coast Guard, MEs need high stamina and endurance to enforce law and order on the seas as well as in the ports.

As part of the Sector Hampton Roads Boarding Team, Concepcion and his shipmates are charged with boarding ships while they are underway to conduct inspections, check for security violations and handle possible threats. When boarding, a Jacobs ladder is attached to the side of the vessel for the team to climb, which can be 20 to 40 feet up the side of a ship’s hull. Add wind and rough seas of the open ocean and it creates a pretty harrowing climb.

If a team member is lacking in physical fitness, there is the chance of them falling off of the ladder or not being able to subdue someone attacking them or the team. This is why Concepcion believes in staying in top physical form.

“If a stowaway is located, you need the stamina to be able to deal with that situation,” says Concepcion.

Concepcion began working out early in life, feeling compelled to excel in his physical ability. A native of Miami, Concepcion and his middle school track team still hold a relay race record at Westpine Middle School in Sunrise, Florida. Since then, he has lived an athletic lifestyle that keeps him in peak shape.

To meet the physical demands of being an ME, Concepcion regularly does a circuit workout that focuses on overall body conditioning rather than specific areas of the body. For Concepcion, it allows him to focus on certain areas of his body day-to-day while still keeping the rest of his body in shape.

“Once you start incorporating one thing too much you get weak in other areas,” said Concepcion. “With circuit workouts, you can focus on a specific thing but you still incorporate everything else. With circuit workouts, the main focus can be legs but you’re still not missing anything else,” says Concepcion.

Part of Concepcion’s lifestyle is also eating right by avoiding foods high in carbohydrates, synthetic sugars and processed foods. His diet consists of high protein foods like free-range chicken and cage-free eggs, fish and almonds. He also notes high protein foods help with the building of muscle and strengthening of bones and joints.

Following a strict workout regime and diet plan are imperative, because the risks during each boarding are too great. Petty Officer 1st Class Drew Rincon, a member on the boarding team with Concepcion, noted the dangers associated with boarding and fatigue and the importance of workouts.

“You have to keep a certain physical endurance where if the fight comes to you, you have to be able to maintain your endurance to come back home,” says Rincon.

 

Power Workout: Petty Officer 1st Class Raymond Concepcion starts his workout with barbell squats.  After that, he continues with pull-ups, box jumps and dips.  Finally, he runs a lap.  After the run, he repeats the circuit two more times or more, until he is satisfied.

Power Workout: Petty Officer 1st Class Raymond Concepcion starts his workout with barbell squats. After that, he continues with pull-ups, box jumps and dips. Finally, he runs a lap. After the run, he repeats the circuit two more times or more, until he is satisfied.