Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Fitness Competition Takes Delco by Storm

This past Sunday, April 23, 2017, well over a hundred athletes and spectators gathered at Palangi Plus/Thomas DeVietro Strength & Conditioning in Morton, PA, to participate in the inaugural Rangers Games.

The Rangers Games gets its name from the 75th Ranger Regiment, a special operations force within the U.S. Army. It was hosted by Tom DeVietro, a former Ranger himself, and judged by several of DeVietro’s fellow Rangers from the 75th. All of the proceeds from the event went to support disabled veteran Chris Nowak, a former Marine who lost his leg in training.

Over the course of the day, teams of four athletes (two women and two men) competed in six events ranging in duration from 90 seconds to 10 minutes. The events tested not only the various domains of physical fitness (e.g. strength, stamina, coordination, and power), but also teamwork and cooperation in true Ranger fashion.

The rules of each event were revealed only minutes before the first heat, leaving teams to devise a strategy on the spot. Some of the movements targeted included deadlifts, burpees, kettlebell swings, and sled pushing. All athletes were held to the same movement standards as Rangers are in the Ranger Indoctrination Program.

The energy in the room was palpable from the start of the day to the finish over 8 hours later. Competition was highly spirited, with athletes crushing their own personal records and then cheering on their challengers in the next heat as soon as they caught their breath.

The most exhausting event of the day came early on with a 10-minute team fan bike sprint. From the first heat to the last, the fan bike left challengers sprawled out in agony at best and running outside to rid themselves of their stomach contents at worst. Fortunately for the athletes, the bike was followed by a kettlebell swing event, which the event organizers later said would be left out next year, as it was “too easy.”

One unique aspect of the Rangers Games was that it was open to athletes of all ages and abilities. Competitors included everyone from exercise enthusiasts to trainers and coaches from neighboring gyms* to local professional boxer Sammy “O” Oropeza.

Whereas other popular fitness competitions may preclude some individuals from participating based on the complexity of the movements and magnitude of the loads, the Rangers Games were far more inclusive and accessible. In fact, the competition witnessed a female athlete as young as 12 years old and a male athlete with one leg (that's me!) thrive.

In designing the workouts, it was clear the organizers put the participants’ safety above all else. That said, the Rangers Games weren’t all work and no play. The event featured a live DJ, vendors, giveaways, a massage table for the athletes’ nagging aches and pains, and delicious barbecue courtesy of Baby Blues BBQ. Former secret service officer and best-selling author Gary Byrne even made an appearance to sign books and answer questions.

As with any first-time event, there were a few bumps in the road. Due to the limited amount of space and number of judges, a maximum of just five teams could partake in each heat. With 25 teams, this equated to quite a bit of downtime between events and a very long day, despite how smoothly the organizers transitioned between heats and events.

As the competition grows in the coming years, the organizers will no doubt find ways to streamline it. Not only that, they’ve already announced a cash prize of $1000 to the winning team next year.

As their motto goes, “Rangers Lead the Way.” Thanks to the tremendous charitable cause, safety measures taken, accessibility to diverse athletes, and sheer amount of fun had by all, this brand of competition could very well be the wave of the future for fitness as sport.

The next Rangers Games is set to take place in Houston, TX, later this year.

*Gyms represented: No Bull Training, Finisher Fitness, Fitness 19, Hall of Fame Personal Training, CrossFit Advance, CrossFit West Chester, Boeing Fitness Center, POH Personal Training and Fitness, Thomas DeVietro Strength & Conditioning

Share This