A Monumental Test of Fitness

The Endeavor Team Challenge is a Monumental Test of Fitness:

We designed the Endeavor Team Challenge to be two things: (1) an awesome experience to share with a teammate and (2) an event to train for that objectively measures competitor fitness.

The value of the experience is apparent:

Our competitors must work together to overcome harrowing challenges while immersed in some of the most beautiful parts of our National Forests.  The individual events are fun and exciting.  They draw from our formative military experiences to create an event that is unique and authentic.  Competitors will walk away with great stories and some new skills.

The use of the event as a fitness test warrants some explanation:  

We believe that fitness is the ability to perform under stress.  In order to measure fitness there must be a task to be performed and a some type and amount of stress.

Real world tasks and stresses are the most honest measurement of a fitness regimen.  Fitness programs that evaluate themselves based on performance in a broad range of real world tasks empower people to perform better when faced with real world challenges. Such programs have a natural feedback loop that strengthens the fitness regimen.

Fitness programs that evaluate themselves based on only specialized or manufactured tasks may not help with real world tasks, and in some cases may actually hurt performance.  They have a flawed feedback loop that has the potential to encourage training and goals that do not translate into any real world function.  A classic example of this is the guy who focuses on his bench press max, and then throws out his back picking up a bag of groceries.

Fitness professionals have done a good job recognizing this and have adjusted their mentality accordingly. For example, CrossFit has designed a fitness regimen that focuses on work capacity across broad time, modal, and age domains.  They thoughtfully included many types of physical activity in their programming.  CrossFit looks to real world activities to validate its fitness regimen, claiming that its “legitimacy has been established through the testimony of athletes, soldiers, cops, and others whose lives or livelihoods depend on fitness.”  (CrossFit Journal, October, 2002) (CrossFit Journal, February 21, 2009)

Unfortunately, most of our lives and livelihoods do not depend on fitness.  Most of us pursue fitness as a side activity.  In order to evaluate our fitness we find some type of fitness test and we generally train for the test.  These typically take the form of a capstone fitness event such as a 10K, marathon, triathlon, or a CrossFit type competition. However, these events are generally flawed; they tend to be either extremely specialized or overly manufactured and unrealistic.

We believe that an ideal capstone fitness event uses a broad range of real world tasks to evaluate fitness.  An ideal fitness test is not biased towards a specialized training regime, and therefore can act as an honest comparison between different training regimens.  The Endeavor Team Challenge is designed to be this type of fitness test.

The Endeavor Team Challenge combines real-world activities with thoughtful mental and physical challenges to test a broad range of fitness under varying types of and amounts of stress.

The specific events in the competition are chosen to showcase the natural beauty of our National Forests and to use the natural terrain to the greatest extent possible.  Many were inspired by the military, a profession that requires a high level of all around physical fitness in order to survive and excel.  Others draw from basic survival tasks that all people should have some familiarity with.  In addition, there are events that test participants’ agility, balance, and coordination in overcoming unfamiliar obstacles and events that require participants to work together to solve problems.

We cut participants off from any support network – they must carry their food and equipment on their backs.  The events are consecutive which discourages irrational over-exertion on one event.   The precise details of many of the events and lengths of the movements are purposely withheld so participants must be prepared for the unknown and pace themselves accordingly.

People from all different types of fitness and skill backgrounds can use the Endeavor Team Challenge as an objective measure of their fitness.  Participants can see how they stack up against other competitors in an objective, fair, and fun environment.  We hope that they also walk away with the great deal of satisfaction that comes with completing a challenge like this, and that they are inspired by the level of their own performance – pushing beyond their own perceived limitations to accomplish more than they thought possible.