Training for Obstacle Course Races: Part I

Part 1: Building the Base
Obstacle course races such as the Warrior Dash, Spartan Race, and Tough Mudder are getting more and more popular with the general population. As a personal trainer, weightlifting coach, and track and field coach, it is my opinion that the 5K versions of these races are exactly the kind of fitness most of us need for everyday activities: upper and lower body strength, core strength, muscular endurance, flexibility, and cardiorespiratory fitness. More importantly, these races are fun and help maintain that sense of play that is so important for all of us. If you can train for and complete a 5k obstacle course race, you have the kind of fitness that is going to keep you going strong for a long time. For my clients who don’t play a sport or have a specific fitness goal, I encourage them to consider one of these races as a fun and reasonable goal to train for. I recently completed the Tough Mudder, an 11 mile, 25 obstacle, challenge with a group of friends as a training challenge.

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone

Back in November 2010, I was invited by fitness icon Josie Gardiner to attend a charity event in Boston. The fundraiser was organized by the ECA World Fitness Alliance’s Boston Balance to
raise money for autism research, and would be in the form of a two-hour group exercise class called Zumba®. The event would highlight a slew of very talented dancers and fitness professionals including the host of this event, the fabulous Ann Saldi. I have to admit that my initial assumption of Zumba® was probably similar to that of many others, in which I formed an option solely based upon what I’d heard or seen in a brief 15 second glance. I remember saying to myself, it’s just dancing right? How much of a workout could it really be? We make assumptions when we don’t fully understand a situation. It’s a natural reaction to instantly fill in any missing information by making things up. We do this because we like to try to make sense of things rather quickly. However, as a fitness professional I pride myself in making sure that I gather all the information regarding the newest programming, classes and equipment. So, in short I needed more information!

Training for Obstacle Course Races: Part II

Part II: Event Specific Training
Once you have your base in place, its time to enter the Transmutation phase. The time it takes to get through this and the level of difficulty you’ll want to include will depend entirely on your fitness level and the degree of difficulty of the race. For the Tough Mudder, we wanted to be able to cover a distance close to the eleven mile distance of the race combined with obstacle stations that would specifically improve our skills for the race. Notice I said skills and not strength. During the Transmutation phase, you are not going to get appreciably stronger. You will however, get much better at the skills you practice. For example, when we started our 8 week Transmutation phase for the Tough Mudder, I could climb the rope with someone holding the bottom of it and I could get over the six foot wall with a little help. By the end of the eight weeks, I could go up and down the rope easily and climb the eight foot wall by myself. Its not because I got stronger, its because I got more coordinated. Practice makes perfect.

Breaking the STIGMA of old school AEROBICS for male clients

One of your male clients is grabbing some H2O in between his sets and as he walks by the group exercise room he stops to watch for a few seconds. He looks in and sees a fairly large group of mainly women, who are basically moving around in a pretty dynamic manner. The music is bumpin’, people are sweating up a storm and his first reaction is: “I am never going in there”. Thinking by the time he walked out of this room, he would be wearing a purple head band, pink leg warmers and a pair of inappropriate short shorts…

This article is to help assist or encourage our typical male client who often hesitates or resists entering the group exercise room. Of course there are a variety of reasons or excuses that we have all heard in the past, but I truly believe that the basis of this issue stems largely from the 1970’s & 1980’s STIGMA that Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons pleasantly left behind. Now, I mean no disrespect to these two fitness guru’s that have helped to improve and shape (pun intended) this wonderful industry that I am grateful to call my profession. However, you can’t help but cringe or laugh a bit imagining these bright neon colored outfits that are often now seen at Halloween costume parties.

A Brilliant IDEA

Forget Comic-Con. For those in the know, the convention to go to in San Diego occurred the week before. And while the city’s now infamous Fourth of July fireworks show may have been a fizzle, the successful launch of the 2012 IDEA World Fitness Convention—a four-day spectacular celebrating healthy living and the active lifestyle—was a true blast.

Set in San Diego’s 2.6 million-square-foot convention center, this year’s event—July 5-8—was also celebrating IDEA Health and Fitness Association’s thirtieth anniversary, attracting approximately 10,000 people from over fifty countries.


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