Sometimes, a competition is more than just an event.
More than just a time on a stopwatch.
More than just a challenge of fitness.
After almost a full year of cancelled races and virtual challenges, being able to compete in-person is a gift. It’s that void you’ve been feeling ever since the last time you went head-to-head with someone who wasn’t on a computer. DekaStrong offered a chance to fill that void this March with a gym-hosted event in Yardley, Pennsylvania.
Underlying Strength, which opened at the end of 2016, had the opportunity to host one of DekaStrong’s first ever events. DekaStrong consists of ten fitness stations with no running in between. Deka, an affiliate of Spartan Race, also offers the DekaFit and DekaMile, both of which include a specified running distance between stations. DekaMile and DekaStrong share the same stations. DekaFit has mostly the same, with a couple that are slightly different.
DekaStrong Stations (Men’s Weight/Women’s Weight):
- 30 x Spartan RAM Alternating Reverse Lunges (55/33)
- 500m Row
- 20 x Box Jump Over/Step Over (24” for both)
- 25 x Medicine Ball Sit-Up (20/14)
- 500m SkiErg
- 100m Farmer’s Carry (60/40)
- 25-Calorie Assault Bike
- 20 x Dead Ball Shoulder Overs (60/40)
- 100m Tank Push/Pull
- 20 x Spartan RAM Burpees (44/22)
Just How Tough Is It?
If you want the short answer, DekaStrong is a kick in the ass. If you don’t at least have some familiarity with the stations, you’ll probably struggle. Unless, of course, you’re already a really well-rounded athlete.
The best way to help you prepare is with a lot of metabolic conditioning and HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training). Even with those, however, you’ll still want to at least have a few runs with each exercise required.
Obviously, some of the stations are harder to train for than others. Not everyone has access to the necessary equipment to specifically train for DekaStrong. That’s what makes Deka-Affiliated gyms, like Underlying Strength, an extremely useful training tool. You can get somewhat ready with a lot of equipment that a normal gym has. But to really prepare, and ultimately succeed, finding an affiliate would be a tremendous advantage.
What To Expect
If you’re familiar with Spartan Races, you might be expecting a lot of the same at a Deka event. Gym-hosted DekaStrong events, however, are different from what you’d find at a Spartan Race in many ways.
First, there is no chip-timing. Not really a huge deal since you have a volunteer that stays with you throughout each station to count your reps and keep your overall time. It doesn’t exactly make you a CrossFit Games athlete, but you may feel like one. Although, since all heats are open at the gym-hosted events, there aren’t any awards.
Next up, the swag. The DekaStrong shirts are 100% cotton, unlike most Spartan finisher shirts, which are polyester or at least a combination of the two. There’s also no finisher medal, but you do receive a wedge piece.
One of the bigger differences from a normal Spartan event is really the photos. This may not be the case at every single Deka event, but at least the gym-hosted events don’t include free photos. Luckily, Underlying Strength organized and funded photos and videos for the event. Photos became available for purchase a few days after the event.
DekaStrong is really a photo-friendly type of event because of the stations, so hopefully Deka makes the decision to fund them in the future. It’s worth noting that the local companies Underlying Strength used for photography (Wanderlove/Yardley) and videography (5Cents Media/Philadelphia) did an absolutely fantastic job.
One of the biggest benefits to a DekaStrong gym-hosted event is the price tag. Most Spartan races are at least $100, if not more. DekaStrong is a very financially friendly option at $39.99. Which more than likely explains some of the areas where you’re not getting the same type of take home swag with each registration. Overall, for the amount of money spent, it’s completely worth pushing yourself to see just how fast you can complete the event.
How’d They Do?
Considering everything that continues to go on with the global pandemic, Underlying Strength did a phenomenal job hosting its first event. Because of COVID restrictions, they did have limited wave sizes, but sold out with a total of 64 registrants. Gym owner and certified fitness trainer, Sid Turner, said that was more than they expected when they scheduled the event.
“We are still down about 25%. With more people choosing to workout at home, the fitness industry has definitely taken a shift,” he explained. “However, events like Deka create an energy that no at home workout will ever be able to replicate. With that being said, Things will shift back, we just have to keep bringing the noise!”
If you missed out on this event, Underlying Strength intends to host many more events to come during the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. There’s even a DekaMile already on their schedule for this May.
Because it’s a smaller facility, and some of the stations need to be outdoors, there won’t be any competitions in the colder months. But you can still train there to get yourself ready for the next event.
If you’re nowhere near Yardley, just mask up and hop on a plane. Or, you can check out Deka’s website for all event dates and locations.
Photo Credit: Wanderlove (@discoverwanderlove)
Video coverage of last year’s DekaFit Jacksonville, Florida
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