Since March, local fitness competitions — 5Ks, triathlons, adventure races and the like — have been put on indefinite hold.
But that changed on the next-to-last weekend in August at Slash Fitness in Delray Beach where, over a two-day period, some 150 fitness aficionados from boutique gyms statewide — ranging from Miami, Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton to Fort Myers and Jacksonville — participated in the inaugural DEKAFIT challenge.
And what is DEKAFIT?
A brand-new offering from the creators of Spartan — those creative and grueling obstacle-course-filled races that test speed, strength, endurance and athleticism — DEKAFIT is described as “a modern-day decathlon of fitness for participants of every fitness level.”
Folks ranging in age from their 20s to their 60s sweated through step-ups, lunges, burpees and other functional fitness movements while being individually supervised in a safe, socially distanced way by a fitness coach.
“We wanted to motivate people and create positivity in the community,” explained Slash Fitness co-owner Joe Ardagna. “With health being such a concern right now, we wanted to offer an event to people of all fitness levels. DEKAFIT did just that.”
Here’s how the event is structured:
There are 10 distinct zones, each of which featured a prescribed amount of a certain exercise. Also in each zone, masked fitness coaches supervised the exercises, calling out reps performed and/or letting the participant know when he or she could proceed to the next zone. The coaches also disinfected equipment between each participant’s usage.
DEKAFIT fitness zones are as follows:
Zone 1: 30 alternate reverse lunges while holding a weight.
Zone 2: 500-meter row on a rowing machine.
Zone 3: 20 box “jump overs” or step-ups.
Zone 4: 25 medicine ball sit-up throws.
Zone 5: 500-meter “skiing” on a SkiErg machine.
Zone 6: 100-meter “farmer carry” of a weight in each hand.
Zone 7: Riding an air bike until 25 calories are burned.
Zone 8: 20 “dead ball wall overs” (picking up a medicine ball from the ground and maneuvering it over a barrier).
Zone 9: 100-meter tank pull/push.
Zone 10: 20 “RAM” burpees (which are standard burpees, plus lifting a weight overhead during the standing phase of each rep).
In the future, more advanced versions of DEKAFIT will feature a 500-meter run in between each fitness zone. In other words, nine 500-meter runs in addition to the 10 exercises.
“There is a method and science to the specific movements chosen, and why they’re performed in the order they are,” explained Jarod Cogswell, DEKAFIT director of sport and education. “Every zone sets up the next zone. For example, Zone 5 is the 500-meter SkiErg, which affects the participant’s grip as they pull the handle. Zone 6 is a 100-meter farmer carry, which once again works on the grip — which is already tired. Same with Zone 2 and the 500-meter row. Your legs are tired, but then you go to Zone 3, which is the box jump or step-up — further exhausting the legs.”
The winner of the individual competition was Nick Porreca, a Slash Fitness coach and trainer, who completed his challenge in 14 minutes and 29 seconds. But all participants, no matter their individual times, spoke highly about the grueling event.
Slash Fitness member Rachel Kinsler, 43, of Delray Beach, who participated alongside her 44-year-old husband Todd, was appreciative for the opportunity to push herself: “The event allowed us to really compete and test out heavy weights, our endurance — all in a safe environment. We have not been able to do that since before COVID, when we entered 5Ks. This is exactly what we needed.”
Todd echoed his wife’s sentiments: “We like to challenge ourselves and have friendly and fun competition. Thanks to the Slash staff’s efforts, we felt really safe the whole time and there is something so special about challenging yourself and realizing you can do it.”
Ardagna noted that the “battle of the gyms” component — each participating gym’s members formed a team — actually created a communal atmosphere of support and encouragement. The “battle” was over which team would have the fastest cumulative time. (For the record, it was GETT ITT Core Fitness from Jacksonville.)
But the atmosphere was not one of competition; rather, it was one of like-minded fitness fanatics celebrating and supporting one another.
“Seeing all of these gyms from around the state cheering and pushing each other was inspiring,” Ardagna said.
Cogswell had a similar reaction: “Between the DJ blasting music, vendors outside, all-around energy from the coaches, and safety measures, it was a memorable fitness experience and people were super thankful for the opportunity.”
“For us fitness folks, a fun competition like this gives us that high we need during such a low time,” said HIIT56 Group Training owner Pam Waddick, whose gym had 10 members participate. “The event was run exceptionally well, and we were all impressed with the Slash Fitness and DEKAFIT staffs.”
The next local DEKAFIT challenge will be in late October at Slash Fitness. The facility is offering DEKAFIT-specific training classes that are open to both members and non-members every Saturday at 9:30 a.m.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: DEKAFIT fitness challenge debuted at Delray Beach gym