When 18-year-old Shartim Robinson walked into the U.S. Army Albany Recruiting Center in Albany, New York, weighing 405 pounds, then returned weighing 270 pounds, he had hired a personal trainer and refined his diet and workout regimen.

Now, at a svelte 200 pounds, the 20-year-old Future Soldier ships to Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Jackson, S.C. Oct. 13. Upon BCT graduation, Robinson heads to Fort Lee, Virginia to earn his U.S. Army Military Occupational Specialty, 92-Foxtrot, which is petroleum supply.

Army photo

Shartim Robinson topped out at 405 pounds at 18 years of age. On Oct. 13, at age 20, Future Soldier Robinson ships from the Albany Military Entrance Processing Center to Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, S.C.Dept. of the Army photos by Ronald A. Reeves

“When I first walked in at the mall [Albany Recruiting Center is located in Colonie Center Mall], I know they were looking at me like…,” Robinson said, leaving the last part of his statement to one’s imagination. “But I wanted to be a Soldier.”

The Albany High graduate started his plan with internet research, by working out at Lincoln Pool in Albany at the upstairs gym and radically changing his diet.

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“I quit drinking all sodas and juice and drank only water. I wanted to lose weight. From there I cut out all fried foods, ate more vegetables and salads with honey mustard dressing. It became a habit. And I had to give up ice cream,” said Robinson.

His reduction from the severely obese weight of 405 pounds, according to Robinson, “hit a plateau at 260 to 270 pounds. I just hit a wall.”

With more research and after investing part of his salary as a package handler with Fed-Ex, he joined another gym that he felt was a better fit and hired a personal trainer there.

“I was doing high intensity workouts on the elliptical machines five days a week, running, doing pushups and sit-ups,” said Robinson.

Once he met the standard to enlist and become a Future Soldier, Robinson began to embrace Army phrases like: “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training” and others.

The Future Soldier program, formerly known as the Delayed Entry Program offers high school students the chance to join and ship to BCT within a year. They meet and learn Army customs and courtesies and conduct structured pre-basic training tasks and perform physical training.

Future Soldiers can earn promotions by completing the entire pre-basic training task list.

Future Soldier Robinson has impressed the recruiters who have seen his entire transformation from start to finish. Sgt. Zormarah Lyda has seen her Future Soldier transform himself into a fit and ready recruit.

“He has done what many young people his age would not have the perseverance to accomplish,” Lyda said.