November 30, 2021

Carrying the load for fun, fitness

Katie Keyser/contributing photographer

Dustin Sherman leads a ruck club workout with fellow exercisers Tuesday at Hope Lake’s volleyball court. Rucking is exercising while carrying a weighted pack. Sherman founded Join the Movement Ruck Club of Cortland.

Dustin Sherman heard about rucking while doing the Spartan Obstacle Course at Greek Peak.

Rucking is the practice of carrying weighted bags while exercising and completing tasks in a timely fashion, said the Cortland man, a sales manager at Hartleys Auto and RV Center in Polkville.

“I started going to the gym,” Sherman said.

That led to a 5K through the YMCA, which led to the Greek Peak obstacle course. Then he learned about rucking through the GORUCK company, which is a a military-style training program, Sherman said.

The company creates gear for Special Forces and encourages people to form clubs to socialize and make them feel capable.

“I really wanted to find hard challenges to up my mental and physical abilities. This does it. It keeps me from doing dumb things.”


To donate

JTM Ruck Club of Cortland is collecting non-perishable food items for Catholic Charities of Cortland County, with bins up until July 27 here:
• Hartleys Auto and RV, Polkville
• Night Owl’s, Polkville
• Bru 64, Cortland
• Cortland Beer Co., Cortland
• Brix Pubaria, Cortland
• East Side Bakery, Cortland
• Christian Assembly of God, Cortland
• The St. Charles, Cortland
• The Red Jug Pub, Cortland,
• Paddy’s Pub, Cortland
• Spiedini’s Pizza Parlor, Cortland
• The Point Wine and Spirits
• Whitney Point Wellness Center
• Sherman Wholesale Tire, Cortland
• The Local Food Market & Cafe, Cortland
• Cortland Fitness Center, Cortland
• Bill Bros Dairy & Farm Market, Cortland


Sherman founded the JTM (Join the Movement) Ruck Club in the Cortland area. He organizes fitness challenges about twice a week, communicating by a Facebook page.

“I design what we are doing. This past Sunday, we went out to Binghamton to the color run. Tonight we are going out to Hope Lake Lodge, starting out to submerge in the water and ending up working out in the sand,” Sherman said.

Every Tuesday, Sherman organizes a workout. Sometimes he organizes other weekend events.

But that’s not all. The group’s members do community service projects, too. They’ve collected items for the SPCA in Cortlandville, carrying donations from the Tops Plaza to the McLean Road animal shelter. They’ve also done a Toys for Tots toy drive.

Now the group is collecting food for Catholic Charities. Barrels are in place at 14 businesses. From 3 to 8 p.m. July 27, members of the club will walk 3 miles to pick up food at the donation bins, carrying them from Hartley’s in Polkville to Catholic Charities in Cortland.

This will be difficult, Sherman said. Ruckers will haul buckets, barrels, backpacks and even a big linen basket borrowed by one of the participants, who works at a nursing home. It will be quite a show, Sherman said.

“We will have a few vans if we can’t pull it off. We did the last two challenges by hand,” he said.

About five or six people show up at the weekly workouts, but community events draw 20 people.

There are about 130 people who are members of the group’s Facebook page.

JTM Ruck Club, in its first year, draws people from Oswego, Binghamton and Syracuse, and everywhere in between. A handful are from Cortland.

Anyone can participate, Sherman said, great physical shape or not.

“The one kid, 16, never did a workout in his life,” Sherman said.

Workouts are modified according to ability. “If they can’t do a push up we will find something they can do,” Sherman said. “People who are better than me, they do more than me,” he said.

“To get involved, show up,” Sherman said. Check the Facebook event page for more information.

On Tuesday, Sherman and three others were going to jump in Hope Lake and do a workout in the sand. But a lightning storm was brewing and they couldn’t get in the water. Sherman’s goal that night was that they be wet. They improvised: dousing themselves with cold water and then doing a series of 30 planks in the sand, then 10 lunges across the sand — for 10 rounds, a good half-hour. They were starting to feel the pain after four rounds.

Rucking also involves walking, sometimes fast, to stay within the time limit. Sometimes, people will do a slight jog to accomplish the task.

“(We) try to keep the heart rate up,” Sherman said.

Weighted bags cause participants to burn calories. People who weigh more than 150 pounds carry 20 pounds to start. Lighter people carry 10 pounds to start.

“I enjoy being outside,” said Terrance Mc- Mahon of Homer. “I enjoy exercise. I enjoy the camaraderie and meeting new people.”

He also likes the challenges.

“I am the local,” said Mitch Elston of Virgil, in between breaths during lunges.

Sherman finds rucking keeps him positive. And he likes helping the community. The GORUCK organization no longer requires clubs to do community outreach. But to him, it is important.

“It’s rewarding,” he said.