Gymbox are excited to announce a new six-week Spartan Race training program designed to prepare members for the Allianz Park London Sprint, which takes place on May 16th. To get participants in race shape, this course will focus on stamina, power, athleticism, readiness, tenacity and attitude. Race Director Richard Pringle, who designed the course, tells us about the Spartan Race and what the six-week course has in store.
Hi Richard, What is the Spartan Race exactly?
The Spartan Race is basically an obstacle race. Imagine a cross country with military obstacles. The distances range from three miles to a marathon – we cater for lots of different levels. The race started in 2010 and is now held in 22 countries, including the USA, Canada, South Korea, Australia, France and Spain.
How did it first start?
Joe DeSena, who used to work on Wall Street as a hedge fund manager, developed it. He bought a house in Vermont and started inviting prospective employees out to interview them. As part of the process to test their character, he would get them to chop wood, run for miles, and climb mountains. This method soon reached out to a US football team who wanted to train with him on his land. This endurance program became what was known as the 'Death Race', which attracted hundreds of elite athletes from all over the world. But Joe didn't want it to be so exclusive, he wanted to make it more accessible for all types of people, hence the Spartan Race was born.
Why do you think 'obstacle' sports such as the Spartan Race have become so popular?
Obstacle racing is the fastest-growing sport in the world. The Spartan Race has millions of runners now. There's definitely a spirit to get outdoors and test ourselves, and this is what we encourage. It's about getting people off the couch and exercising. The Spartan Race works well as we have various distances: the Spartan Sprint to the Spartan Super and the Spartan Beast. The 'sprint' is a great intro to what we do. We love to encourage people to come along and give it a go. The key difference between regular races and the Spartan Race is that as well as running, you are running up hills with sandbags and pushing heavy tyres, so there's a focus on upper body strength.
What gives Spartan Race the edge over the other races?
Unlike the other races around, we are timed. All competitors have chips, and the race is run as a proper competition. There are championships and prize money. We are also unique in the sense that we have such a range of people getting involved, from youngsters up to people in their 70s. It's not just about elite runners. My mum, who is almost 64, competes now. She came down to support one of my events a few years ago and got overwhelmed by the atmosphere. Competing has given her a whole new lease of life. It's given her a reason to be fit, and she now has goals to strive for. It's amazing to see her to do this. This is what makes the Spartan Race so special.
You have designed a six-week program for Gymbox. What's in store?
This course will prepare people physically and mentally for what's going to be expected of them at the race in May. Each club is going to enter its own team, so this will generate a team feel, which is important to us as a brand. The sessions will be broken down into different elements: stamina, power, athleticism, readiness, tenacity and attitude. While we look at the physical assets one needs to do the obstacles, we also look at mental challenges, as fundamentally, the race is a test. We will take you out of your comfort zone on the day, so the best way to train for this is to visualise the challenges on the course, therefore we replicate them within the Gymbox environment. For example, on race day you will be climbing over walls, so in the session we will work on power by doing box jumps. For grip strength we will be doing the farmer's walk, where you walk carrying two heavy weights. And for flexibility, which will help you get over the wall once you're on it, we will do lots of stretching.
In what ways are Gymbox members well matched to take on the Spartan Race?
Gymbox members train harder than most, therefore we compliment each other really well. The Spartan Race wants to get people fit, well and happy – and to have fun in the process. In that sense we are no different to Gymbox. We offer tough challenges that Gymbox members will love to embrace.
What do you find the most enjoyable aspect of the Spartan Race?
As Race Director, you will always find me at the finish line, as it's the best place to be. I get to see such a variety of people cross the line – all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds and abilities. Some people are disabled, and we've had war heroes and double amputees cross the line. Once we had four generations of the same family finish the race together. I try shaking hands with everyone as they come in. It's amazing to see such emotion and feelings of euphoria when people complete the race and become a Spartan…
All members can get 25% off The Spartan Race on May 16th by entering the code: GYMBOX.
Spartan Training Race Training – six weeks training starts now! Do the lot, or drop in on sessions
Bank, Thursday 12pm / Covent Garden, Thursday 12:15pm / Farringdon, Friday 7:15am / Holborn, Monday 1pm / Old Street, Tuesday 7:45am / Westfield London, Monday 7:15am / Westfield Stratford, Friday 6pm