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Fort Drum Soldiers get a grip on new functional fitness rig

By Michael Strasser April 6, 2018

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (April 6, 2018) — It’s kind of hard to miss the new piece of equipment at Atkins Functional Fitness Facility, especially when 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers are seen swinging, climbing and traversing – Ninja Warrior-style – across the massive rig.

The Alpha Warrior Training Rig is a towering construct of monkey bars, ropes, rings, peg board and netting that can be configured into any number of obstacle courses and functional fitness workouts.

Dan Degrie, lead recreational assistant, said that it is designed to be used in a serpentine sequence so that a person can complete the entire course without ever touching the ground – that is, if they are conditioned enough. However, it is interchangeable enough so Soldiers can design their own challenging workouts.

He said that the rig tests a person’s core strength and grip, but speed and body momentum is also factored into how efficiently the obstacles are navigated.

The multi-station rig became available April 4, and Randy Gillette, AFFF manager, said that more than 100 Soldiers made use of it that day during their physical training sessions.

“Basically, we wanted to give Soldiers the ability to do multifunctional exercises at the same time, and the Alpha Warrior Rig provides that circuit training that they need,” Gillette said. “You can do over 50 exercises on the rig. When you add all that together, you get a total body workout.”

People familiar with the televised American Ninja Warrior competitions will notice similar obstacles in the Alpha Warrior Rig such as the salmon ladder and the narrow ledge climb.

Pvt. Chris Simard was among the group from 642nd Engineer Support Company that tested the rig April 5. After a quick safety brief, they approached the obstacles – cautiously, at first – before really getting into the swing of things. Simard was familiar with all the Ninja Warrior courses and was looking forward to seeing what he could do.

“It was a good workout,” he said. “The one thing I don’t ever work on is my grip, and that’s pretty much what this whole thing is about. I liked the fact that this was just all obstacles.”

During their session, curious patrons glanced inside the room to see what was happening. Soldiers like Spc. Jacob Limon and Spc. Daniel Cash, both from 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, stepped inside to try out a few obstacles before returning to their regular workout.

Cash said that he went straight toward the globe grasps and the ledge because those two obstacles seemed the hardest.

“It was awesome,” said Cash. “A lot of people like Ninja Warrior, and it really is good exercise. It works your upper body and it is good cardio if you go long enough.”

Limon said that the Alpha Warrior Rig is something he hopes to use more during physical training.

“I think it’s great. I’m really surprised that they got it because I didn’t think anything like this would happen here,” he said. “I do a lot of rock climbing so something like this can definitely help, especially finger strength, forearm strength and grip. It’s really amazing.”

Gillette said that there are currently 12 installations that have an Alpha Warrior Rig and he is proud to be able to offer it to Fort Drum Soldiers and community members. He said that in the months ahead, the rig will be surrounded by other fitness equipment, such as rowers, ski machines and Jacob’s Ladder to enhance the circuit training.

“This is going to be very popular,” he said. “Eventually I can see a time when units are going to want to reserve time on it, but right now it is first-come, first-served.”

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