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Elmira/Corning

Battle functionality

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Battle functionality
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Every morning, when our alarms are going off and some of us are trying to sneak in one more push of the snooze button, the soldiers of Fort Drum are already in the middle of their daily morning workout. Those extra five minutes aren't an option for them. Especially as they get ready for a brand new program known as Functional Fitness, which aims to prepare them for 'battle functionality.' As part of our special week-long series, our Brian Dwyer shows us that mixing the old workouts with the new isn't easy, and getting the mind as prepared as the body is the ultimate exercise.

FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Early on a Wednesday morning - but it could be just about morning really - 6 to 7 a.m., the gyms on Fort Drum are packed.

"They certainly work certain pull and push muscles and certain core exercises but they're definitely not the end all, be all, cure all. Soldiers and leaders often need more," said Major Rob Montz, Guthrie Medical Chief of Occupational Therapy.

Because while serving a purpose, they're not completely helping soldiers to do their jobs. That's where Functional Fitness comes in. Through this transformation by Fort Drum, there will soon be a brand new home for battle functionality, but also, some individual units are getting brand new workout areas.

The lifting, the pull ups, the ropes....it's now an all-together workout, a holistic approach, mimicking those movements you'd do on the battlefield.

"Very rarely are you just in combat doing a push-up, but you might do a push-up to get off the ground and get up and sprint or get up and carry a wounded soldier," said Capt. Jeremy Brandenburg, 2-22 Charlie Co. Commander.

So while some of us are just waking up, pushing that snooze button, it's these workouts that can test both body and mind, the ability to keep going.

"Everything from strength and endurance to hard cardio. You can see that transitioning from ropes to weights and things like that you get like no rest in-between," said SSgt. Robert Gilling, 2-22 Weapons Squad Leader.

And while you're getting that extra five minutes, Functional Fitness is also bringing these soldiers outside the comfort of a gym. It's getting them ready to be dropped smack in the middle of Afghanistan where not only those muscles have to remember, but the mind has to fight through.

This is called the Urban Obstacle Course.

"You never know what the obstacle is going to be in combat. It may not be an exact replica of this type of stuff, but you're probably going to see something like it,” said CSM David Bass, 1-87 Infantry.

Before the sun rises, 1-87 is in full gear, 40 or so extra pounds, already giving it a go. They say in Afghanistan you will come across obstacles, things like mud walls for grape growing, that are basketball hoop high and miles long. The only way through, is up and over.

"You could walk down the middle of the row, but that's probably where they're going to put an IED," said CSM Bass.

It's the thinking, the planning, the hanging, the balance, the climbing...exhaustion can lead to the mind astray.

"When you think you can't go any further, mentally you tell yourself, "I can do this. I can take one more step. I can reach a little higher. I can pull a little harder. Then the body will follow along," said CSM Bass.

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