After a successful morning meeting on the road, Ed and I left the base and headed for lunch.  The meeting went great because we advanced our software designs which means more lives will be saved on the battlefield.  However, one of our teammates will not be so fortunate.  It was a real punch in the gut for all of us.  Mitch had just finished a round of treatments for mouth cancer.  Everything looked good last month.  But at his follow-up this month, he got the bad news that the cancer had spread to his thyroid and prostate.

Lunch was kind of quiet, as was the ride to our next destination.  About an hour later, we showed up at The Endurance Factory.  As I walked in and met owner/founder Ken Peluso, my mood changed and I was in my happy place for the afternoon.

Owner/Founder Ken Peluso

The look and feel of the place took me back many years to when I started OCR at ABF Mud Run.  The gym is tucked into an industrial park.  It also reminded me of iMETTLE.  They are OCR training heavens.  All the basic stuff is there.  But the Endurance Factory has more.  They have some signature stuff, like Hubie Cushman’s Indian Mud Run hanging doors.  They have a Stairway to Heaven with skull grips.  On the left wall, there is a huge multi-rig.  On the right, a monstrous Rogue rig.  Out front is a 14-foot warped wall.  All around the gym are the other basics that we know and love for OCR training – buckets, bags, sleds, bars, you name it.

So, you might say, “What’s the big deal then?” 

It always comes down to the people.

Ed and I showed up during open gym time.  Since The Endurance Factory just had their grand opening a week ago, yesterday afternoon we had it all to ourselves.  Ken generously delivered a ton of training tips, demos, and stories.  My favorite is an all-time classic.  I never get tired of hearing it.

Ken started in OCR years ago as part of the first generation.  He was bored, looking for a challenge, and was tired of the same old rut of gym workouts.  He loved the outdoors and spent a lot of time bouldering and mountain climbing.  But a woodworking accident left him a few fingers short.  The doctor told him he’d have maybe 40% grip strength.  Ken accepted the challenge, and after doing his first ever race at Palmerton, not only was he hooked on OCR, he also found a reason to massively improve his grip strength.  In fact, he doubled it.

If you're going up, go backward!

His motivation for the sport is in helping others.  His decades of climbing and hockey background lent him a natural athleticism.  Back in those early days of OCR, it was easy to find others who were curious about this new sport.  He brought friends to races, taught them techniques, and stayed by their sides from start to finish.  At one Palmerton race, he endured six and a half hours of the Sprint course just to make sure his partner finished.  And when they did, it was hugs, high fives, and another happy racer hooked.

While Ed was changing into his gym clothes, I gave Ken a little bit of his background.  When Ed came out, we put him right on the rope climb.  Ken is an excellent method teacher.  He’s all about technique, adaptation, and detail.  He clearly loves this job and he loves working with people to help them succeed.  Not only will he spend hours with you out on the sun-baked trails of Blue Mountain in July, he’ll spend quality one-on-one time with you in the gym to help you overcome fears, reach goals, refine techniques, and ultimately, celebrate the achievement of the once thought impossible.

If you're going up, go with two feet!

Next, we moved onto the rings.  I learned a few new things here.  While Ken is a certified SGX Coach and currently in training for his next level, he learns things from all over the OCR world.  He brings that knowledge into his gym and shares it with others.  His technique for single ring hand transfer was brilliant.  It really helped me a lot.  He learned it through necessity since he has some shoulder problems.  I do too.  This technique helps bypass that issue.

Then I asked him about my little issue on the course last year.  At the Spartan Citizen’s Bank Park Stadium Sprint, the course had thirty box jumps somewhere in the middle.  Legs are tired from all the climbing and running.  Heart rate is way up.  I was so slow on these.  What could I do better?  Transfer to fast twitch muscles.  He showed me a couple moves, things I had never done or seen before.  I ate it up.  I couldn’t do any of them.  Back to the training ground for me.  Love it, love it, love it.

If you're going down, use momentum!

Ed and I were feeling pretty bad about teammate’s cancer.  I needed a little pick-me-up.  Although in our short time at The Endurance Factory we got to talk with Ken, train a bit, and get some pointers, we didn’t really get a solid WOD in.  That wasn’t the plan.  We were there to learn and have fun.  The double rope climb is one of my favorites.  A couple trips back and forth on the Rogue sealed the day.  They just helped this old man feel good again.

If you're going up, go double!

Ken Peluso’s Endurance Factory is the real deal.  He’s got the right stuff, the right hardware, the right background, and training.  He has a solid staff working with him.  Tiffany Palmer drives the morning 0-dark, thirty classes.  He’s got a great start with promotion on the local news channel.  He’s located in Savage, MD, just off I-95 near Ft. Meade, an ideal spot where he knows there are thousands of OCR athletes, close to race venues, and where word of mouth spreads fast about places like this where people want to go and become part of the success story of OCR.  Ken, you’ve earned a 5-for-5 rating from the OCRMudmaster.

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