This article was originally published in the 2022 1st Quarter edition of Reserve & National Guard Magazine.
D1 Training, an athletic training facility in Tennessee is helping local National Guardsmen get into the best shape of their military careers.
The franchised brand, located in Hardin Valley just outside Knoxville, is owned by Devin Driscoll, a former WWE wrestler. Driscoll has been an owner since 2018 — but his appreciation for the military began long before that. He was attending Fordham University on Sept. 11, 2001, less than 20 miles from the twin towers.
“My uncle served in the Navy, and I’ve had a lot of friends who have served,” Driscoll said. “But especially since 9/11, I’ve had a passion for giving back to those who have served.”
In March 2020, Driscoll met Staff Sgt. Chris Fairchild, of the Tennessee Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. Fairchild wanted to develop an eight-week training program specifically designed to achieve a passing score on the latest Army Combat Fitness Test.
Driscoll was immediately interested.
“D1 has a reputation of training the top athletes,” Fairchild said. “On my initial meeting with Devin, I toured the facility and met all the trainers and instantly knew that we found a home. The atmosphere is contagious and instantly motivates you to leave your best on the field.”
Hit it hard
Driscoll signed a yearlong contract with the Guard, creating a formal-yet-unnamed program for Fairchild’s recruits and any other nearby guardsmen. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, approximately 20 men and women, ages 18 to 35, get together. For one hour, they perform exercises aimed at improving their fitness test scores: high-intensity interval training, sled work, hex pulls, deadlifts and the like. They move from the weight room to turf as necessary, a massive American flag keeping watch from the wall.
“Our trainers find their deficiencies, find out where there could be improvement, then train off those deficiencies and retest,” Driscoll said. “The biggest difference is when you train with a purpose and with a program designed off your deficiencies, you can really see large gains and increase your performance.”
Fairchild is a prime example. Though he said he “was in pretty decent shape” when he began training at D1 in November 2020, his fitness scores began climbing afterward – first to 567 out of 600, then to 594.
“The training is elite, and I am living proof that someone can achieve a max score and overall better your health and wellness,” Fairchild said.
But it hasn’t just been Fairchild improving. Five current Guard members went from failing the ACFT diagnostics to passing, scoring over 450. Additionally, eight people have enlisted with Fairchild thanks to referrals from D1 training.
D1 has gotten involved with the National Guard in other ways, too. The facility hosted the first-ever mobile 20th Group Special Forces Readiness Evaluation in a one-day tryout. The event generated 67 leads. D1 also hopes to host a future event for elite local high school athletes to compete against each other using the ACFT standards.
“At D1, we have such a good reach because we’ve penetrated the market locally,” Driscoll said. “It’s been a great way to build the Guard’s brand deeper within the community.”
It’s all added up to a win-win situation, Fairchild added.
“The classes have made a huge impact on our National Guard soldiers and warriors,” he said. “The D1 training has laid the groundwork for our warriors to be physically prepared when boots hit the ground at basic training.”
Driscoll sees the relationship between D1 and the National Guard continuing well into the future.
“This is the right thing to do,” he said. “I think right now there’s not enough people supporting our military, and if we can bridge that gap, that’s a win for us.”