FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Jan. 16, 2020) -- Fort Drum Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation staff members hosted a kickoff event for the inaugural Slim the Mountain Challenge on Jan. 14 at Monti Physical Fitness Center.More than 160 community members signed up for this 10-week health and fitness competition that encourages participants to trim body fat and lose extra pounds. When the event concludes in March, prizes will be awarded to the top male, female and three-person team.Aly Thibodeaux, FMWR Sports / Fitness / Aquatics (SFA) assistant, organized the event because she said it has been several years since Fort Drum had a fitness challenge like this one. She anticipated around 50 registrants, and was surprised by the community response."I have to say that I was overwhelmed by that, in the best possible way," she said. "My main goal now during this challenge is to help people succeed."To that end, Thibodeaux is asking participants to take advantage of the resources and facilities on post that can support them in their goals. She said that people can opt to work out at home or take advantage of one of three facilities on post - Magrath Sports Complex, Monti Physical Fitness Center or Atkins Functional Fitness Facility."All of the gyms are different in their own way - different equipment, different staff, different hours - and they almost have different purposes," Thibodeaux said. "I encourage you if you don't already have a gym you love, try out all three gyms."She also will send participants weekly guidance, workouts and tips."The point of all of this is healthy fitness," she said. "It's not to starve ourselves or do this is an unsafe way. We want to help you figure out how to take control of your fitness in a safe and healthy way."Other than the biweekly weigh-ins, there are no mandatory requirements. Participants can choose the amount and type of exercise that suits their needs. However, Thibodeaux, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, will recommend workouts and assist anyone with questions."We are here for you, whenever you need us," she said. "We can talk about your workouts or nutrition, or why you might be feeling discouraged whatever it is, we can get you the support you need."Jon Burnard, FMWR's Sports / Fitness / Aquatics director, said that, to respect people's privacy, participants' information will be kept confidential and they will be identified by a code instead of their name."We want everyone to feel comfortable doing this," he said. "Not everybody wants to have their name out there, so we're going to keep that private if they want."One Soldier, who attended the kickoff with his wife, said that the challenge is motivating them both to pursue their health goals."My wife and I are both in the process of trying to lose weight, and we thought this competition would be a good way to do that," he said.The 12-year Army veteran said that he plans to follow the weekly workout routines that Thibodeaux is recommending."I like to play sports, so I also want to put together a basketball game every Saturday to get out of the house and stay active," he said.He also said that he and his wife work out at the community center where they live and at Atkins Functional Fitness Facility.Representatives from Cornell Cooperative Extension were also in attendance at the kickoff to talk about nutrition and smart food choices."We offer a lot of great programming, and the best part about it is that it's free," said Joe Brennan, nutrition educator. "We can do home visitations, group sessions - we do a lot to cover basic nutritional information."They are currently partnering with Army Community Service on an eight-week cooking and nutrition class called "Smart Food," beginning Jan. 22. To learn more about this class or to register, call (315) 772-6902.Burnard said that people should not be discouraged by personal setbacks, the occasional cheat days or slow progress."It's tough," he said. "You will have little obstacles that will get in front of you and take you off course. Everybody is going to have bad days, I know. But right now it's important to focus and push forward, and keep pushing forward."