Paratroopers stay fit, amid gyms being closed, with 'gyms in a box'

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- Despite gyms being closed to stop the spread of COVID-19, paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division continue to find ways to stay fit and prepared for deployment.

"Gyms in a box" are one of those ways active military members are able to do that, while also social distancing.

Major Carpaccio Owens, an Environmental Science Officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, utilizes the G.I.B.S. several times a week.

Owens spent Friday afternoon putting together his own outdoor workout near the 82nd Airborne Division's headquarters, finishing up his second exercise for the day.

"Rather than sit around, watch Netflix things, like that nature, I'm just more geared to like trying to reach a personal goal of just being healthier," Owens said.

A threshold he continues to push, despite battling stage three Chronic Kidney Disease. Owens said he only has 50 percent function of his kidneys, meaning he's at high-risk if he were ever to get COVID-19.

RELATED: Fort Bragg soldier with 50 percent use of kidneys gets max scores on Army Combat Fitness Test

"Things began to get shut down, then the gyms got shut down. I don't think a lot of people had enough time to say, 'hey, I need to order equipment for myself in order to work out from home," Owens said.

Owens's outdoor workouts and his ability to access the G.I.B.S has allowed him and other paratroopers to stay physically sharp but at a safe distance.

Each G.I.B.S. unit has a plethora of exercise equipment: dumbbells, benches, kettlebells, medicine balls, and bars for push-ups and squats.

82nd Airborne Division officials say they currently have 30 units available, with another 140 boxes expected to be installed for troops.

"The way it's designed here at the 82nd is you have to be ready and willing anytime, anyplace, under any condition," Owens added.

A motto that rings true in Owens's life. Last year, the major received a perfect score on the upcoming Army Combat Fitness Test.

The 43-year-old's also been giving back, offering free intense workouts to citizens; however, that's been halted due to the ongoing pandemic.

Major Owens even recently made it onto the Men's Health magazine where they highlighted the longtime soldier's career and dedication to a healthy lifestyle.

"We all have gifts that we have. You know, some people are good at building things. I'm just pretty decent at exercise," Owens said.

Owens continues to keep in touch with his workout crew, mainly through social media. There, he posts his daily workouts and encourages others to better themselves mentally and physically.

"You have a goal, you achieve that goal. I think it improves you as a person on the inside," Owens said.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.