Featured Club: Redefining Hardcore
Founded by the World’s Fittest Man, San Diego’s Gut Check Fitness has trail runners sprinting hills, hauling rocks and doing burpees before the rest of the world wakes up
Getting up at the crack of dawn to hit the trails is a laudable effort, particularly for those of us who don’t identify as “morning people.” But, a slow, easy run in the woods is one thing—try hitting the trails at 6 a.m. with a man the Guinness Book of World Records calls the “World’s Fittest Man” and a group of like-minded folks for an hour of boot-camp-style workouts.
Welcome to San Diego’s Gut Check Fitness, an outdoor boot camp that encourages athletes to trade treadmills for hills and barbells for boulders. By incorporating trail running, hill sprints, squats, lunges, pushups and other strength-training protocols—including hauling around giant rocks or logs—Gut Check helps people train for everything from adventure races to trail runs to ultramarathons.
This gym-eschewing group, whose motto is “The Earth is Your Gym,” is the brainchild of Joe Decker, 44, and his wife Nicole. Decker earned his title as World’s Fittest Man in 2000 by breaking the Guinness World Records 24-Hour Physical Fitness Challenge. To do so, he biked 100 miles, ran 10 miles, hiked 10 miles, power-walked five miles, kayaked six miles, skied 10 miles, rowed 10 miles, swam two miles, and did a variety of plyometric workouts, including lifting a cumulative 278,540 pounds—all in 24 hours.
Decker’s racing resume boasts several dozen ultramarathon finishes including, Morocco’s Marathon des Sables six-day, 156-mile desert stage race and, in 2000, the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning—which, that year, entailed finishing the Old Dominion 100, Western States 100, Leadville Trail 100 and Wasatch Front 100 in the same summer. (For good measure, Decker ran Death Valley’s punishing Badwater 135 that summer, too.)