Think you've got what it takes? Try the Marines' home fitness course

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The Independent Online

They used to be the preserve of the supermodel, the actress or any other celebrity with a half-decent body. But now even Britain's Royal Marines are getting in on the act, with the imminent release of their own home fitness programme - entitled "Fighting Fit".

The interactive CD-Rom is based on the gruelling 30-week training course for Marine recruits and claims to knock participants into the same sort of shape as those who have actually joined the élite corps.

Famously, the course is so tough that only half the 1,000 recruits manage to complete it each year. The Earl of Wessex is one of its high-profile failures.

But although footage includes Marines marching with heavy equipment, rope climbing and clambering over obstacles, the disk's makers claim it can be followed by any person of average fitness.

Major George Matthews, a spokesman for the project, said: "We are not trying to encourage people to put on 70lb packs and go yomping across the nearest waste ground.

"On both the course and the CD-Rom, we start with the same raw product - the man coming off the street. The main aim is to develop endurance, stamina and will power. Exercises include building up muscle mass, which you could do in your living room."

Before launching into everything from press-ups to speed marches, users are invited to assess their fitness levels and adjust the exercise programme to suit their needs. There are also sections on first aid, nutrition, orienteering, map reading and survival.

As well as wanting to hit back against what is sees as Britain's couch-potato culture, the Marines took part to try to boost recruitment to the 6,800-strong force. The organisation has not been paid by the disk's publisher, Europress, and will not receive royalties. "We desperately need to keep recruiting," said Major Matthews. "Although there are queues of people wanting to become recruits, there are large numbers of Marines leaving for other jobs."

The corps decided to go ahead with the disk, which goes on sale next month, despite five deaths on their training courses in four years. Wayne Richards, a 17-year-old recruit, became the latest victim last month when he was shot dead during a firing exercise.

Major Matthews acknowledged that the course puts a strain on people but added: "So does warfare and that's what we are training guys for."