The Spartan Race has one simple mission. That is for you to embrace an active healthy lifestyle at any age. It follows a certain blue print for living a good life called, The Spartan Code. It follows 9 principles that encourage self-mastery, self-improvement, gratitude and integrity.

Photo courtesy of REEBOK

Being a Spartan may need a transformation of lifestyle or sustainance of living determined and healthy. But we need to understand that a lifestyle needs to get established in the mind, body and will of a person. Nowadays, people want to get instant results without realizing that working hard for it is the way to go. As a result, people give up right after they start.


Spartan Race is a series of obstacle races of varying distance and difficulty ranging from 3 miles to marathon distances. They are held in US and have been franchised to 14 countries including Canada, South Korea, Australia and several European countries.


There are three categories to choose from.

  1. Spartan Sprint – is the shortest of the four and the best choice for beginners. It has 20+ obstacles and covers a 3+ miles long varied terrain. Beginners race at their own pace wherein the fastest time recorded was 30 minutes and the slowest was 2 hours.
  2. Spartan Super – gives the athletic bunch 8+ miles of rough terrain with 25+ obstacles. It uniquely tests one’s physical stamina and mind-set. No matter what your fitness level is, it’s extremely hard that it will push you to your limits.
  3. Spartan Beast – from the word itself is for beasts. Designed for those who see extreme challenges as opportunities, there are 12+ miles to cover and 30+ obstacles to finish. Brace yourself for something hard-core.

There’s a couple of categories to choose from for the kids based on age groups. One that runs for half-a-mile for the 4-year-olds to 8 and another for the 9-year-olds to 13 that is a mile long.

Spartan Trifecta (sprint, super, beast. repeat.) Those who finish a Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast in the same calendar year will earn their Trifecta medal—and earn a coveted membership to the TRIFECTA TRIBE”   Every race is timed, and every failed obstacle gets a mandatory 30-burpee penalty. – Spartan Race, e-book

The business idea is based on what every human being’s highest level of need, the sense of self-achievement. It fires up the Spartan Race where each obstacle is a test of power and will.


Spartan Race involves running, lifting pails of rocks, wall climbing, rope climbing, crawling in mud, spear throw, fire jump and burpees. These obstacles surely don’t sound easy but why are people still willing to join?

In 2016, Hong Kong welcomed it with 8,000 registered racers. Both athletic people and not took their chance in feeding their sense of self-achievement by signing up either with a team or individually. Some took it as a chance to do team building and some chose it to challenge themselves to feel that adrenaline rush all over again. Teegan Bishop, among many others, grabbed the chance as soon as she heard that Spartan Race was coming to Hong Kong. She was a performing artist from Australia at the time that she joined which was last year. From where she came from, Tough Mudder have the same model. “It was something new, uncertain and challenging and I wanted to give it a try.”, said Teegan who registered for her own physical re-evaluation. She was 21 when she joined.

On the other hand, Steve Kimm, Hong Kong Disneyland’s TEAM MUSHU dragonboat team captain and a stunt choreographer registered along with former Mushu teammates to stay bonded. “Anything that involves climbing walls, ropes and jumping over obstacles had my attention straight up! And with a big dragon boat season planned for 2017, I thought what a great way to motivate myself to get into great shape! The best part is that it would be along some of our Mushu teammates!” 

Both Steve and Teegan are from Australia, home of Tough Mudder, and they both live an active lifestyle. While Steve joins the Spartan Race at 38, he had competed as a gymnast. He stays pumped up with leading Team Mushu and so is Teegan. She is now one of the principal vocalists of a luxury cruise line and she had danced her whole life.

But here’s the big question.


Let’s understand who the Spartans are first.

Spartans are native inhabitants of ancient Sparta. From the History channel, “Spartan” was defined as self-restrained, simple, frugal, and austere. Spartans prized brevity of speech. They derived the word laconic meaning pithy and concise. They owned great courage and discipline.   Anybody could impose discipline to himself. But the grit to sustain this varies from one person to another.   What sustains grit?

Photo credits to REEBOK

Grit, being strength of character, follows through our goals. Goals help us meet our aspirations. The game, “The Sims 4”, grouped aspirations into 10 categories:

  1. Athletic
  2. Creativity
  3. Deviance
  4. Family
  5. Food
  6. Fortune
  7. Love
  8. Nature
  9. Knowledge
  10. Popularity

Some could aspire for 2 or 3 of these categories. Some may aspire it altogether. Countless variations and combinations may arise but regardless of what we decide on achieving at the end of the day, grit sustains it all.   When Joe DeSena, CEO and Founder of Spartan Race, and his team got stranded on a 350-mile winter adventure race. He had to dig himself out of the snow. When they survived, a thought dawned on him. He figured out that our ability to thrive feed on grit. And so, an endurance test came to mind. Man’s highest level of need, self-achievement, ignited the idea and the obstacle-race-course, The Spartan Race was born.


Carrying a pail of rocks up and down the hill during the Spartan Race in Hong Kong, November, 2016

The very nature of a Spartan Journey inspires so many people to push themselves into becoming their own better version. Lady Dazha Dacanay, an English teacher from the Philippines, had an ACL surgery three years ago. Ever since she would find ways to prove to herself that this won’t limit her in any way in gaining her strength back. And would even want to be stronger than how she was before.

“When I saw the ad, I knew right away I had to give it a try.”, says Dazha, 29.

There were also a bunch of lawyers that joined to take a breather from a stressful line up of cases. They described their level of athleticism as a once-a-weeker at the gym right before deciding to join. As compared to how they were when they were younger, they admitted that they felt bad for skipping the gym often. They formerly went to the gym for almost 5 times a week but their jobs had caught them up. So they thought joining the Spartan Race would actually make them go back to their former active selves once again.

Heathyr Stanics, a 30-year-old insurance agent, is a living proof of GRIT. She shared her remarkable Spartan Race journey at for finishing the race despite her weight. Her story entitled, “My Spartan Race and Why Size Does NOT Matter” is very convincing towards those who worry whether their appearance is a big deal. “I am an obstacle racer, not your average athlete. I am fiercely independent with a strong will to succeed in all aspects of life.”, she described herself.

Parents had also participated in the Spartan Race. Lhelai Centeno, a mother of a 10-year-old in this shot did what she does best. Her arms carried her all the way to the race and her competitive spirit was ignited along the way.

 Photo credits to Bryan Diehl

I’m not sure if I can make it but I’m up for challenges. There’s nothing to lose in there.

– Lhelai Centeno (Philippines), 31, Mother to a 10-year-old, owns guns are her power and that core is unbeatable!

Even a simple spectator of reality TV shows who once dreamed of joining obstacle races like these got called out.

Bobby Ralp Manalang, a 35-year-old chorus dancer from the Philippines saw a reason to put his competitive drive to good use. “Witnessing different kinds of people like those younger than me, way older than me and women doing the same obstacles as men filled my heart with inspiration. There is that incomparable feeling of joy while crossing the finish line, getting the medal around your neck, and the fact that a first timer like me doing something outside my comfort zone. It is an experience like no other!”

This is truly a struggle of the mind conquering pain and the power of determination in every single stride.” – Bobby finishing the race in Hong Kong. November, 2016, Photo credits to Bryan Diehl


Joe DeSena grew up with a yogi mom and a dad who was a business person. It’s not unexpected that he grew up knowing how important these two things are: staying healthy and staying wealthy. As he was keeping an office job doing stock trading, he felt guilty for gaining weight and becoming too relaxed. He joined long-distance events and would race up and down his apartment building’s stairs to stay fit.

When his family transferred to Vermont and he had to attend to the family business in the farm and a bed and breakfast, he found time for himself and became an ultramarathon. Slowly, his lifestyle changed and joined more long-distance events including athletic events like Ironman and Furnace Creek 508 Bike Race. In a year, he managed to complete 50 ultraevents and 14 Ironmans.

When he started the Spartan Race in 2009, he just wanted a million people to get off from the couch and start getting physically active. And then it just expanded to offering healthy diet regimen, living the Spartan Code and encouraging coaches to spread the word. Health is becoming one of the most neglected aspects of life because of human’s obsession to the trends of technology. The Spartan Race empowers a person to live a life with purpose addressing this global dillemmaThat is why it may be one of the best business ideas of all time.


Keith Gross, a 28-year-old American and his wife, hail healthy living by being patriots of sports. Both of them were former cheerleaders during their college years and they had always embraced outdoor events. In terms of fitness, it’s something that they both own that keeps them ready for any challenge. Currently, Keith works as a costuming manager and Danielle teaches at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Considering their training background, these jobs keep them sedentary.

At one point, while Keith keeps fit by going to the gym, he finds the routine and repetitions boring. He found an answer by getting involved with Dragon boat. He keeps himself abreast with sporty events. And as an idea to join Spartan Race was nestled, both him and his wife signed up for it.

Keith Gross with his wife Danni doing their usual lift after the race, like nothing happened. 

I have always been a huge believer in promoting a healthy, active lifestyle.

In challenging myself, I constantly try to find new and different ways so I never get bored or tired of staying fit.

I love the feeling of training for something that I’ve never done before.

And this Spartan race was something that had been on my bucket list.”

– Keith

Harry Pupualii, 35-year-old Fire Knife Dancer from Samoa had competed in Malaysia last April 22, 2017 for the first time. Alongside Steve and Keith, who were doing their second race already at that time, he was determined to push himself to the limits. He trained for 3 months for the said event. He was doing cleansing diet before that which convinced him to turn vegetarian.


Harry Pupualii of Samoa joins the Spartan Race in Malaysia, April 2017 with Keith Gross and Steve Kimm

“Competing for something that would challenge my mind-set and physical health sounded worth it of my time and effort. I needed that challenge.”

– Harry Pupualii, 35, Fire Knife Dancer

Joanne Baldonado is another lover of sports who give importance to her health that’s why she joined the Spartan Race. She got well versed with right training, right breathing and competing with nobody else except herself. She trained for swimming, volleyball, gymnastics and cheerleading and she was more than convinced that she needs a different kind of challenge.

Jo trained for volleyball, swimming, cheerleading and currently is a parade dancer in Hong Kong Disneyland.

I joined the Spartan Race because I wanted to challenge myself.”, says Joanne Baldonado, 29 who had been athletic from a very young age.”

All of these people had competed at some point in their lives which is truly inspiring. The sad truth is, majority of the global population can’t even distinguish the difference between a sedentary lifestyle from an active one. Some don’t even have an idea on how to do a squat properly and efficiently. And the worst, some feel entitled to have an opinion or criticise without even trying any regular exercise regimen.

Let’s look at a micro-level considering Hong Kong specifics.


Specifics mean statistics. Real, simple, tangible data can show you how insignificant exercise had become largely.

Hong Kong is an autonomous territory, with an area of 1,106 square kilometres and was a former British colony. Based on World Bank, population grew from 7.24 million (2014) to 7.347 (mid-2016). From 2010 to 2014, the population grew at an average annual rate of 0.8%. 61.1% of the total population are employed (3.92 million) where 50.9% are men and 49.1%, women. Employment range is from the age 15 and over.   Regardless of the gender, here are the percentage allocations of employment:

Percentage of Employment
Manufacturing 2.4
Construction 8.9
Import/Export, wholesale and retail trades;

accommodation and food services

Transportation, storage,

postal and courier services

and information and communications

Financing and insurance; real estate

and professional and business services

Public administration;

and social and personal services

Others 0.5
Total Employment 100.0

“Despite its small size, Hong Kong ranks 7th largest trading entity in the world in 2016.  “

– Information by: Labour Department: report as of May 2017 

With 61.1% employed, embracing 8-hour office jobs, how many give importance to daily exercise and healthy diet? Construction with an 8.9% involves the physical body but it doesn’t guarantee a positive holistic effect since it is for work and not plainly to exercise.   Hong Kong ranks first in having the highest IQ score. In terms of global competition, it is intellectually, financially and economically capable with the giant red (China) to back it up. Undeniably, China had invested (and is continuously investing) on its people for power. Communism had established its unity and getting hold of the 7 Pillars of the Spartan Training can make them more resilient, powerful and in balance.   These pillars are: Endurance, strength, athleticism, recovery, nutrition, mind, code.

The Spartan Code:


  5. LEAD

Imagine a world living such code. Enough said.

Let me tickle your brain!


After hearing successful stories, it made me filter the edge businessmen are looking for in an idea that spells profit. So for a business idea to be at its best,

  1. It must have a good intention. – Joe’s ultimate reason for putting up this business is for people to be reminded that due to ease in our lifestyle, we forget how to feel driven in our own pursuits. We became too relaxed, almost on the verge of being lazy that’s why chronic illnesses had propagated over the human species. We neglected how important a good blood flow is. How to live simply and to be grateful that we have the things that we “truly” need. It is a cliché to quote Prevention is better than cure, but it is. And exercise is one good way to prevent getting sick.
  2. It must solve a majority’s problem. – Needless to say, adopting a healthy lifestyle had been a great challenge to the most because of their 8 hour jobs, lack of challenge and absence of a support group. Joe gives everything that could help you transform with his program. From changing your diet, to acquiring quality rest and listening to your body as it hums what it needs organically. These are how our ancestors had lived simply and gloriously. But because of the trending lifestyle that greatly depends on technology and instant gratification, we easily get distracted.
  3. It is continuously evolving from when it became an idea. – The opportunities offered by the SpartanFIT is endless. Joe expanded the idea into a concept then into a lifestyle. And he did it not just for one single person, not just for the interested group, but globally.


I have a deep regard for your time. It's when I write and cook that time becomes non-existent. I love learning and while you think I am the kind of lady who has a lot of things to say, just take it that I was sharing what I had learned with full impact over a cup of Joe.

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