Popular events create demand for intense training
Story courtesy of Argus Leader
The outer realm of fitness is always going to be there, but the activities and the people who take up those spots change with the times.
From a business standpoint, it’s a moving target.
An online search of “Sioux Falls fitness” generates pages and pages of options. Some boast training, gender or generational niches. Others offer spacious accommodations or convenience in retail centers.
All claim to have the capacity to make you “better.”
But how, exactly, do you want to get better, and what do you want to get better at?
For an increasingly significant segment of the fitness crowd, it’s getting a little weirder and more adventuresome out there. Triathlons have been around for a long time, but they’re more prevalent now.
More recently, obstacle course races and mud runs have been a focal point of a certain brand of weekend warrior looking to turn up the volume.
And those who run training facilities have taken notice.
Saturday marked the grand opening of a D1 franchise in Sioux Falls. It is one of 53 facilities carrying the name “D1” spread over 24 states. Billed as “the place for the athlete,” it boasts “custom sports-training programs, boot camps, expert coaching and the latest in sports therapy.”
The local site is distinctive for its partnership with the Orthopedic Institute and GreatLife Malaska Golf & Fitness, with the capacity at one place to address the fitness and rehab needs of a diverse group of customers.
“D1 brings a unique addition to the facility,” said Randall Hill, the general manager of the GreatLife Performance & Fitness Center. “Our fitness center is going to be a little different than anything that has been done in town.”
The D1 brand is closely connected with well-known professional athletes, most of whom will affiliate with a specific facility located in an area where the athlete maintains a regional connection. Locally, a pair with NFL ties were introduced as part owners Saturday.
Former NFL defensive lineman Kyle Vanden Bosch, a Larchwood, Iowa, native who played 12 seasons in the NFL before retiring in 2013, was part of the gathering, as was Tyler Starr, who grew up in Little Rock, Iowa, graduated from the University of South Dakota and has been a member of the Atlanta Falcons for the past two seasons.
Nationally, the company has aligned itself with athletes like Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Carmelo Anthony and dozens more.
The message being sent with the tight connection to pro athletes is fairly obvious: We’re not fooling around; if you want intensity, you’ll find it here.
“We base our training on what people want to do,” said Brad Pfeifle, vice president of sports medicine and rehab services at the Orthopedic Institute. “Fitness is one component, strength is another component. What is your goal as an athlete? Is it triathlons or mud runs? How do we help you? Training is going to be multidimensional, and it will be based on what you need to achieve your goals.”
Whether it’s a trend or a permanent paradigm shift, more people are taking on physical challenges that might seem extreme to some. Putting a face on this movement this summer is an NBC TV show called “Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge.”
Teams confront obstacle courses dealing with impressive arrays of physical inconveniences. All necessitate cooperation within the team. Spartan Inc., which oversees the event, is a NASCAR-like brand that organizes competitions across the U.S., setting up courses that include hill, wall and rope climbing, in addition to moving forward.
There are a lot of ways to go about improving in specific areas. Sanford Power is a popular facility for activity-specific training that incorporates strength development, speed, agility, plyometrics and explosive power – all of which are qualities athletes want to enhance if they’re spending time climbing over walls.
GreatLife Performance & Fitness Center has constructed an entire area devoted to the specific challenges included in a typical competitive obstacle course. Nick Ovenden, Hill’s colleague at GreatLife, designed the section.
“He designed it around training for Spartan races,” Hill said.
It includes rope climbs, tractor tires, sledge hammers and prowlers, which are heavy sleds you push.
“I don’t think anyone in the Midwest really has anything quite like it,” Hill said. “People want to push themselves to the limit. If you are training for a road race, the training is pretty repetitive. You can do other things, but if they don’t involve running you’re not really working toward your goal. Obstacle courses give you a chance to work on different things every day and still be getting closer to your goal.”
Paul Ten Haken was one of four Sioux Falls-area residents who teamed up to compete on “Spartan Ultimate Team Challenge.” Ten Haken, CEO of Click Rain Inc., who competes in everything from triathlons to obstacle course races, was part of the local team along with his brother Mark and friends NaTascha Krempges and Tracy Kuiper. Each team competing on the show – it’s on Thursday nights on NBC this summer – also had one elite teammate.
The Sioux Falls team did not advance, but the experience was nevertheless memorable.
“It was one of the neatest experiences of my life,” Ten Haken said. “For the people who follow obstacle course racing, it was a chance to be around the best in the world. All week we were able to hang out with them.”
Ten Haken, who also is training for an upcoming Ironman competition, called obstacle course racing one of the fastest-grown participatory sports in the nation. Like the rest of the increasing number of participants, he’s attracted to the challenge.
“It demands strength and physical endurance,” he said. “And a high pain tolerance helps when you get snagged on barbed wire. You have to grit your way through, but you end up doing things you didn’t think you could do. And when you’re done with one, you start thinking about doing the next one faster.”
It also demands time management. His friend and fellow triathlete Dr. Wayne Huber, a chiropractor whose work in dealing with athletes will include accompanying the USA beach volleyball team to Rio for the Summer Olympics, has a business to run and a family. At Huber’s level of training – an Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2 miles on foot – you really can’t afford to cut corners too often.
“Trying to find the time to train is the most challenging part of it,” he said. “The balance of training, family and career is really difficult. You have to cut back on something to get it all in. Typically for me, it’s sleep.”
Huber and Ten Haken are both early risers – really early.
“I would love to be able to get up at 7 a.m.,” Huber said. “But it’s around 4:15 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. Then I move aggressively for an hour and a half or so. That way I have my workout done before my kids wake up and I can spend some time with them.”
Krempges, who works at Forged Strength, a gym on Minnesota Avenue that emphasizes weight training, embodies the movement as both a participant and as one who bases her living in part on preparing others for battles, be they obstacle course conquests or just getting through a day more comfortably.
“I was a cardio queen,” said Krempges, a former college basketball player with three children. “I eventually ran into strength training. The stronger I would get the more confident I became.”
Krempges, who has tended to go full-speed in her fitness endeavors since college no matter what goal she’s pursuing, has since become a competitive power lifter while also competing in obstacle course races and mud runs. She sees the training for these events as uplifting.
“I really try to teach people to appreciate the journey,” she said. “People sometimes want to get from A to Z very quickly. People who are looking for dramatic changes in 30 or 60 days are usually headed for failure. We teach them to learn about their own body – we’re not all the same. It can give them a greater appreciation for what they can do.”
Forged Strength, which is owned by Matt Dolan, has classes catering to all levels of training with an emphasis – no surprise here – on building strength.
“I keep coming back to how it gives you confidence,” Krempges said. “You get better functionally. A lot of people who were really into cardio like myself are now adding power sleds, ropes and kettle balls. It’s a great way to better yourself. You’re healthier and you stand taller.”
Incorporating mud – the pictures and videos of these competitions seem to depict dirty athletes – is a matter of personal preference, but Krempges said the outdoor element is an obvious enticement for outdoor types. So, too, is the variety.
“Basically, if it’s outdoors and it involves water and dirt, I’m all in,” she said.
For those sustaining a business in a community seemingly well-stocked with options, being sensitive to shifting preferences is crucial, whether you’re talking about mud runs or more dainty competitions.
“I think a lot of the time people start out by looking for the challenge of something new,” said Brooks Little, a fitness manager at Avera McKennan Fitness Center. “This is something different, and the competitive factor is an attraction. It’s a growing trend in the fitness industry.”
A growing trend with plenty of local interest.
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