Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Fort Carson Mountaineer

Strong Soldier event draws crowds

By Walt Johnson | Mountaineer staff

FORT CARSON, Colo. — Soldiers and Family members gathered at Garcia Fitness Center Oct. 15, 2022, as the annual Strong Soldier competition was held with enthusiastic competitors showing just how dedicated to fitness and strength training they are.

The Strong Soldier event is one of the most popular strength and conditioning events held on post each year, and it measures each person’s individual strength and willpower. The goal of the competition each year, according to Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation officials’ is to test individuals’ strength, fitness and mental toughness and it again did not disappoint.

The competition tested upper and lower body strength that had the competitors reaching beyond their comfort zone. After a particularly grueling event, one competitor after another had to rest because of exhaustion and to gather themselves after the event took every ounce of energy they had left.

One of the competitors for this year’s event, Nicholas Galvan, didn’t know that he would be a part of the competition when he got up in the morning but ended up finishing first in his weight class. Galvan came to the facility to cheer on other competitors but ended up competing in the sport he has loved for the past four years since he started weight training.

“I used to work in this gym (Garcia) and my thoughts were to come over and help in any way I could. I work out with weights every day; I try to train my main muscles group at least twice a week, so I was ready to compete today,” Galvan said “When I got here, I decided to take part in the event.”

The competition also was a chance for previous participants to catch up with each other, even though they were in competition for the same prize in the women’s lightweight division. Jessica Yates, who would win the division, and Isabelle Proner-Michelin, who finished a close second to Yates, were talking

and encouraging each other. Each of them had a story about personal trainers in their past that led them to the event Oct. 15, 2022, and explained why they had no problem helping each other be the best they could be.

Yates began weight training about six years ago and had a personal trainer three years ago when she got interested in competitive powerlifting. When she realized that Strongman competitions fell in line with her powerlifting training, she was more than eager to start competing in Strong Soldier type events. She said that she didn’t see it as a competition with Proner-Michelin because of the way she approaches events like this.

“When you compete in a Strongman competition its more about competing against yourself than others. You really want to see what your body can do and how much you can meet or exceed when it comes to your personal best. One thing lifting has taught me is that it will teach you a lot of life lessons and one is failure is a part of life and if you don’t win the event it’s not that big a deal. What I tell myself every time I lift is, ‘Get your mind right, focus and get rid of any negative thoughts that may bring me down and not let me perform at my best,’” Yates said.

Proner-Michelin hired a personal trainer for her then newlywed husband Kyle Dunn, who competed in the heavyweight division, about 10 months ago. She wanted to support his interest in powerlifting and the personal trainer had some techniques that would help him. Before long she joined in the training session and that led them to compete in this event when they transferred to Fort Carson recently.

“My wife got me a personal trainer and before long she was getting into the training, and she started joining in on the sessions. Eventually we started considering competing in Strongman competitions. About a month after I started training, I tore my biceps dead lifting and that took me out for three to six months. We continued training but I had to train in other areas besides dead lifting and that is when I realized how much I would enjoy the Strongman competition. A lot of the things you do in training you do in Strongman competitions so I thought it was awesome that we would start competing in them. It is completely different from weightlifting, powerlifting and body building, making the Strongman training totally unique. So, you need someone to teach you how to do the Strongman disciplines like taking a log off the ground without tearing a bicep or hurting your back,” Dunn said.

Dunn may have liked the idea of the Strongman, but Proner-Michelin wasn’t sold at first glance. She said her husband would talk her ear off about the Strongman. But Proner-Michelin has also been an avid weightlifter, Dunn says pound for pound she could hold her own lifting with him, so the idea of the competition did have some appeal for her. The competition was not the only thing the couple got out of competing this past weekend.

“This is the weekend of our first wedding anniversary, and it was nice that we could compete together and spend some time doing something that we love together. Also, it is great to meet people with the same goals in competitions like this,” Proner-Michelin said.

Strong Soldier event draws crowds
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