The founder of the Spartan Race is releasing a book entitled “Spartan Up! You’ll Know At The Finish”. As I mentioned in a previous blog post, about Promotions That Take You to The Edge, I had the great privilege to meet the team behind Spartan Races a few weeks back. I feel extra-privileged that they have given me an advanced copy of Joe’s book! I even had the opportunity to put some questions to DeSena, about it. I was not disappointed and I’m excited to relate some of that here.
If you have heard of the Spartan Race then you know the awesome commitment and passion it gets from participants. If you’ve ever taken part in one of their events then you know the transformative power that comes from pushing to the absolute extreme. You know that just finishing is a huge achievement. It doesn’t matter if you come in first or five hours after the pack, you’ll find new levels of confidence and self-knowledge just by entering a Spartan Race.
Joe DeSena wrote Spartan Up! with Jeff O’Connell, who is a widely respected fitness writer. Together, they have written the story of how Spartan Races came to be and what went into the mind-set that caused it to come into existence. It tells the story of how Spartan became the transformative sensation that is reshaping the fitness world. At the same time, it lays out how the reader can apply the concepts at the core of the Spartan philosophy to their own life.
Reading Spartan Up! You’ll Know At The Finish Line
While Spartan Up! was co-authored by DeSena and O’Connell, it’s written from the perspective and in the voice of DeSena. It works well for it, as he clearly knows what he wants to say. My first impression from the book, and it’s pretty much true of the man himself, was that Joe DeSena doesn’t mess around. He gets straight into the facts of the business and uses colorful real-world examples to illustrate his influences and ideas.
DeSena is very direct, while writing at a high level. He lays out his philosophy using the Spartan Race as an example and metaphor of how, in his eyes, to live. It’s a visceral philosophy that’s simple but extreme, there are no half measures in Joe DeSena’s world. He breaks it down to simple concepts that strip away the abstract assumptions, complacency and babble of contemporary culture. These concepts form the Spartan way of living and competing.
In Spartan Up! DeSena exhorts the reader to get motivated and build their strength of will. The examples that it draws on are about people who have overcome extreme challenges and withering disadvantages to win and thrive in the most adverse circumstances. DeSena points out how people, who’ve faced the challenges of living in extreme deprivations, have been able to make do, even thrive and find happiness.
The Spartan Race is designed to make leaders and develop potential to an extreme level. I think the book captures that spirit very well, and I recommend it to you to read and put into practice. The kind of training that Spartan gives you is that you can deal with uncertainty and novel situations more than you think you can. This is the mindset that any entrepreneur needs to develop; for the owner of a fitness center, it’s doubly true.
Spartan Up! encourages and cultivates the kind of stamina, confidence and willpower that you’ll need to face the angriest customer or the most difficult and reluctant employee, without flinching. One of the skills that DeSena tries to instill in the reader, as in race participants, is the value of delayed gratification. These are all things that can make the difference between success and failure in such a competitive business as fitness.
A Few Words With Joe DeSena
The short interview that follows is an extract from the conversation that I had with Joe DeSena about the book Spartan Up! and Spartan Races.
Gym Insight (GI): Joe, were there defining moments or insights, which led to the Spartan Challenge? You mention death races for example but what got you to that point?
Joe DeSena (JD): Life experience got me to the point of wanting to find the most amazing unwavering people on earth. The real Rocky Balboa’s, the real gladiators, the real Amelia Earharts. They exist, they are incredibly inspiring high functioning people and they are the ones I wanted to be friends with while on this planet. In addition I was convinced that those people could be “forged” and I wanted to test the theory.
GI: Which came first: Mud or philosophy? How did your philosophy and practice influence each other?
JD: Mud is really just a component of some races to help put people back into nature. Its not required at all events. Philosophy is what matters and it is something I had been working on my whole life. I asked myself why are people from third world countries tougher? Why was someone from the inner city more rugged? Was our concept of easier faster and cheaper a flawed concept? What role does instant gratification play?
GI: Can you explain what the greatest contribution of a Spartan Race is? What do participants most get out of it?
JD: At the highest level it is a life changing experience. At the lowest level it is a commitment. It’s the first step toward facing your fears, obstacles, and a new you.
GI: What can a trainer or fitness professional that’s new to Spartan do to get involved and promote the lifestyle and challenge?
JD: Spartan Races has a program called SGX. We certify the top trainers globally in our methodology. This is where a trainer becomes a coach and really can take his or her business and impact to the next level.
GI: What do you want the reader to get from reading Spartan Up?
JD: I want them to change their frame of reference. Because if we all do, the world would be a lot better place.
GI: Where do you see Spartan Race going in the future?
JD: Spartan is a health and wellness company. The “race” is how we get to test if you are living the life. Our goal is to get our races into the olympics..
GI: Is there anything else that you would like to share? What would you like the Gym Insight Blog’s readers to take away from this?
JD: Whether you have motivation or not, whether you are an entrepreneur or not, whether you have been able to have meaningful relationships or not, Spartan Up! can help you across all facets of life and get you where you want to go, if you apply what you learn.
Spartan Up! You’ll Know at the Finish Line is set to be released on May 13th, 2014. The book will be available in hardcover and digital formats. It’s being published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The hardcover version runs to 224 pages and lists for a full price $24. If you’re reading this before the release date, you can pre-order it on Amazon at a discount and practice a little delayed gratification. I think you’ll enjoy Spartan Up! when at last it arrives.
Over to you…
Once you have had the chance to read Spartan Up! You’ll Know at the Finish Line, please add you own review here. I would enjoy hearing how you relate the Spartan Up! philosophy to both your fitness and business life.