The Hardest Workout of My Life!
for·ti·tude[fawr-ti-tood, -tyood] noun.~mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.
At the urging of a patient of mine, Ivan, co-founder of Fit Factory Fitness and The O-Course, I decided to give this military-style obstacle course a try. It is designed to train those who wish to participate in races like the Tough Mudder, Spartan Race, and Warrior Dash.
Pre-Obstacle Course Training
Just to give you quick background – I had been running 5km once a week, cycling everyday to and from work (12-15km/day) and lifting heavy weights (4 sets of 5 reps) 2x/week including my favourite exercise: burpee chin-ups. I thought this would be ample preparation for the ensuing torture. Suffering an injury was a concern but hopefully nothing my insurance plan couldn’t fix :-).
Warm-up (aka: TORTURE)
I arrived down at the Docks in for their 9am Saturday ‘O-Course’ with the same jittery feeling I’ve experienced before a big sporting event. Walking into the Dome we were ordered to go out and get our ‘Rifle’. The rifle is a four pound block of wood that you get to know intimately over the next 2hrs.
Prior to the start Tony “A” , the lead instructor and former Marine Corps, starts by asking if anyone has done both the Tough Mudder and The O-Course. A few put their hands up and he asks them what was harder. Both indicate The O-Course is harder although not as long.
Tony then starts barking orders to get everyone in formation with their rifles held up. This was the beginning of the toughest 45min workout I have ever done! Probably the hardest part of this ‘warm-up’ is holding your rifle above your head for what seems like an eternity. Maybe that is what inspired the crew to have shirts made up saying ‘Your workout is my warm-up‘. The only ‘break’ you get from holding it overhead is spent holding yourself in the plank position, doing ab crunches, squats and push-ups.
I can honestly say that I have never sworn that many times in a workout because of the pain. When holding one of these poses like the plank position Tony would count to three and everyone would shout ‘UH RAH!’. If he noticed that any of the almost 100 ‘soldiers’ was on their knees during the three count he would make us hold it longer. Someone next to me couldn’t quite handle the intensity and keep kept getting caught on her knees so Tony keep adding extra sets to our workout as AGONIZING SCREAMS rang out.
Following the BRUTAL warm-up the troops get rallied up outside the dome for instructions on how to do the roughly 5km, 20 event obstacle course. During the instructions Tony makes us do more overhead rifle holding/planks/pushups as a few people are talking during his speech. Finally we are set free to run to Cherry Beach with rifles in hand for our first event – crunches in Lake Ontario. The water is refreshing and helps to re-energize the body.
At this point I won’t take you through every single obstacle as you can just view the video at the bottom for an idea of what to expect. For me I didn’t find the obstacle course that hard except for the fact that you are ABSOLUTELY EXHAUSTED from the ‘warm-up’!
One of the toughest parts though is after you get out of the water and reach the soccer field you sprint to the end and back and do 25 incline push-ups! This is almost impossible after the beating your shoulders have already taken.
The course does get hard right at the end as you finally reach the ‘sand’ events. A number of obstacles consisting of carrying, crawling, and dragging various heavy pieces of equipment.
The entire course took me about 1hr and 15mins with the top finishers just over the 1hr mark. I spoke with the winner after the race and he mentioned it was his fourth time competing and this was the toughest warm-up he has ever seen.
It was a great way to really test physical/mental limitations. The Fit Factory Crew was very well organized. Will I do it again? YES! But I will train specifically for it so my shoulders can handle such agonizing feats of endurance. After completing this – the next event to cross off the list is Tough Mudder next spring!
Note: I would not recommend trying The O-Course unless you consider yourself to be in great shape as lower fitness levels would have much greater chance of getting injured.
Check out the INSANITY here:
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This article is also featured on The GoodLife Blog.