Fort Drum community celebrates fitness during facility first anniversary event
November 29, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- For more than a year, Fort Drum Soldiers, Civilians and Family Members have had an opportunity to spice up their workouts at Atkins Functional Fitness Center.
To celebrate the first anniversary of the facility, staff members and representatives from Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers hosted a Strongman / Strongwoman competition -- the toughest functional fitness event to date, according to Randy Gillette, AFFF manager.
"I can't express how successful this place has been over the past year," he said. "This place has really taken off because functional fitness is a new way of working out."
Many of the events require not only physical strength, but also mental toughness, Gillette added.
"This competition is more advanced (than previous events)," he said. "We have Soldiers, spouses and Family Members who have trained up for this event for the past two months to prepare for it."
More than 60 male and female competitors started the outdoor challenge at the battle rope station before completing five clean push / presses and five dead lifts. Participants then sprinted over hurdles, maneuvered through tires and cones, completed a tire flip challenge and carried two sandbags down and back.
The challenge concluded with participants pulling vehicles across the parking lot. Men were required to pull a large van while women had to pull a pickup truck.
The top three male participants were Staff Sgt. Jeffery Toniatti, first place; 1st Lt. David Hornby, second place; and Sgt. 1st Class Tyrell Tompkins, third place.
The top three female participants were Spc. Mary Clark, first place; Alisha Williams, second place; and Jennifer Lentz, third place.
Clark, who is assigned to 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said she recently moved to Fort Drum from Hawaii. She has been involved in functional fitness for about two years and is level 1 certified.
"The hurdles scared me, but I didn't hit any of them," Clark said, laughing.
Toniatti, who is a cadre member for 3rd Battalion, 85th Infantry Regiment (Warrior Transition Unit), agreed that the hurdles looked daunting. He has been coming to AFFF since it opened, but he also works out at the other physical fitness centers on post.
"I mostly do power lifting, but I come here to get a little more cardio in my workout," he said, adding that including functional fitness in his everyday workouts has improved his strength and endurance.
Two Soldiers who braved the chilly air, 2nd Lt. Devon Griffin and Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Newton, represented 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Bri-gade Combat Team, during the event.
Being the first to tackle the course, Griffin admitted he wasn't sure what to expect.
"Everything was going great," he said. "I got through the tires and the sandbag run, but when I got to the van, it threw me for a loop."
"It was a lot harder than we thought," Newton said. "It was a relatively short course with easy obstacles, but I don't know if I was pushing myself harder than I should have been, but I was smoked."
After completing the Strongman / Strongwoman competition, participants also could test their mettle on the newest edition to the AFFF's fitness equipment -- the Pillars of Hercules.
The machine, built by Fort Drum's Public Works, consisted of two weighted logs. Challengers were required to hold two rings that were connected to the logs and hold them up for as long as they could.
"(The Pillars of Hercules event) was a big mental challenge," Newton added. "It was rough. It was a lot harder and a lot heavier than I thought it (would be)."
Spc. Justin McQuaid, 3-85 Infantry, and Sgt. Valerie Castaneda, U.S. Army Medical Department Activity, both won prizes for holding up the weighted logs the longest.
AFFF and BOSS will host another functional fitness challenge next month.
For more information about the facility or upcoming competitions, call 772-3377.