Whatever your preference, it seems that these types of events are spreading like wildfire. So what's the draw? Well for starters, people are realizing that they need some sort of finish line to cross, so to speak. Sure you can lift day in and day out, but it can be discouraging to not have a specific goal set in the future. For you hard-asses out there who say "No way, lifting is my life, I can do this all day!" I won't keep you any longer, go back to snorting your lifting chalk. For the rest of you, consider this: How many finish lines have you been prepped to cross in your life? You study in school to pass tests, you went to practice after school to win games, you went to driver's ed. classes to get your license, many of you went to college & got a degree just to get a job, you save money so that you can buy your own place to live...sensing a pattern here? You are programmed to have short-term goals to reach, many of them preparing you for longer-term goals. So to tell someone to join a gym and work out forever, just cuz it's healthy to do, sort of works against your internal program.
Over the last 5 years the fitness industry has seen explosive growth in the "functional fitness" sector, to the point where it's quite honestly flirting with being ridiculous. (To the personal trainer making your client stand on one leg on a Bosu and touch their nose - I'm lookin' at you.) For the most part however, it has been a good move; intelligent people are realizing that a 400 pound bench press doesn't really equate to a healthier and happier life. Being well-balanced in your activities tends to promote healthier lifestyles and bodies, and that means cardio, core training, heavy lifting, and using tools beyond the gym to get in shape.
But how does one gauge their fitness if it's not just all about one-rep maxes or entire single-leg workouts?
Enter the obstacle course event. They set the stage for you to implement your training and be compared to your peers. These events serve as stepping stones in your workouts, so the monotony of your routine doesn't overtake you. You may very well find that having a tangible goal in sight improves your workouts, and it might light a fire under your ass to move a little faster, lift a little more, and eat a little cleaner. These events are demanding, and require that you show up with not just muscular strength, but endurance, mental stamina, and the ability to adapt on the fly and overcome ever-evolving challenges.
If this inspires you to take the plunge and try one of these events, check out the links below to see if one of these might be right for you! Keep in mind that they are not the only ones out there; do your research and see what would be best for you.