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Soldiers and community members had an opportunity to test their mettle in a timed series of physical tasks during the Atkins Fitness Challenge on Jan. 27 at Atkins Functional Fitness Facility. (Photo by Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs)

New year brings intense new fitness challenge
at Fort Drum’s Atkins Functional Fitness Facility

Mike Strasser

Fort Drum Garrison Public Affairs

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Jan. 30, 2023) – When the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion team supports a functional fitness competition at Fort Drum, you know it’s going to be intense.

Soldiers across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) participated in a timed series of physical challenges Jan. 27 inside Atkins Functional Fitness Facility (AFFF), testing their mettle on everything from kettlebell carries and deadlifts, box jumps, tire flips and the weighted sled pull-push.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it was a really good workout,” said Pvt. Dave Barrett, 7th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team. “I felt very motivated, trying to beat my NCOs, and I felt good about my time on the course.”

Barrett said that he works out with his unit at AFFF, mixing weight training with functional fitness routines.

“It varies from day to day, but all of the physical training that we do is geared toward this kind of challenge,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Jose Hamtig, with 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, also conducts CrossFit-style workouts with his unit.

“This was pretty challenging, but we do PT here at 0600 every morning,” he said. “So this was just another Monday for me.”

Hamtig said that he was intrigued to learn about the competition, but he saw it as an opportunity to challenge himself among his peers.

“Most of my NCOs are doing this, so this lowly staff sergeant here wasn’t about to let these young’uns show me up,” he said. “I had to prove this 39-year-old can do this.”

Spc. Madina Bambara, with the 41st Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, is in the Special Operations selection process. Although she thought her overall time was slow, she felt comfortable completing all the tasks.

“This was hard, but it was fun,” she said. “I wanted to challenge myself with something new.”

Kyle Parisi, AFFF assistant facility manager, said that people come to Atkins for high-intensity, CrossFit-type training, and this fitness challenge mirrored that.

“We tried to incorporate some events in the Army Combat Fitness Test and also what we see clients do a lot of here, whether that’s the Assault Bike or pushing sleds on the turf,” he said. “We partnered with the Special Operations Recruiting Battalion to showcase what they have to offer, but also to show everyone the kind of high-intensity circuit training we offer at Atkins.”

Parisi previously served with the 91st Military Police Battalion, and he was an instructor at the Light Fighters School and with the Mountain Athlete Warrior program. He said that hosting this fitness challenge was a way he could give back to the 10th Mountain Division.

“I really wanted to start off my tenure as a civilian employee with something fun and something that would motivate Soldiers and community members,” he said. “When I was a Soldier, this was my gym. We did a lot of events for our students here when I was an instructor, so I was really familiar with the space and the type of fitness challenge we could provide.”

Patrons can learn more about Fort Drum’s fitness facilities and upcoming events by following For information about Atkins Functional Fitness Facility, call (315) 772-3377.