David Magida has this thing about coming out of retirement to win Spartan Races. Then he goes back into retirement. Sort of. When he is not the face and voice of Spartan Race on TV or live-feed, he is back home in Washington, D. C., where he owns and operates Elevate Interval Fitness. Now that he podiumed his first race of the 2018 season, he may go back into hiding as he preps to open his third shop.
He started this business the hard way. Although he loves racing, training, and being in front of the camera and mic, he does not like one-on-one personal training. So at first, he did not think owning a gym was his thing. Instead, he went deep into OCR. But something clicked later on and he realized, hey, I love the group dynamic and community of OCR. I love helping people do this sport I love. He discovered that group training was definitely his thing. For the first time, he stepped away from OCR and opened his first gym.
It was a rocky start as he went through the common entrepreneurial problems of growth, sustainment, and turnover. But it worked. Soon he got the itch to race again. That’s when I met him the first time, two years ago at the Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Sprint. He had just come out of his second “retirement” and won second place elite that morning.
Two years later, it was my turn to show up at gym number two for some HIIT time. That’s High-Intensity Interval Training. That’s his specialty, his formula if you will, his secret to winning. Lots of HIIT workouts and plenty of running is his routine for success.
I arrived early to spend some time chatting. The gym is located in the 14th Street Corridor of the city. It’s a beautiful neighborhood teeming with a history that’s worth a walk around its blocks. Take in the signs, the parks, and the historical sites in this neighborhood, like the diner where Martin Luther King, Jr. planned his March on Washington or the Park that commemorates where Thomas Jefferson wanted to move the Prime Meridian of the planet, thus signifying the ultimate demise of the British Empire’s rule over this former colony.
The gym is compact but loaded with all that is needed to get HIIT hard. The front section is a cushioned floor for bodyweight, TRX, dumbbell and kettlebell training. The sidewall is a row of a dozen Woodway treadmills. The back section is a row of Assault Elite air bikes and two rows of water rowing machines. On the other side of the wall are the check-in, reception, restroom, shower, and locker area for the athletes. Everything is very clean and well-maintained. The staff is friendly and helpful.
I noted that special point early on when I emerged from the locker area wearing my knee brace. David inquired first. I set his mind at ease letting him know it was there only for protection. Later on, just before we started, another staff member came over and asked me a few questions to make sure everything was cool. She was the staff yoga and recovery specialist. I thanked her and assured her all was well and that yoga and foam rolling are two key items in my weekly routine.
Then it was time to get down to business. David broke the athletes into two groups. The first group started on the floor exercises while the latter group started on the treadmills. David put on his microphone and cranked up the music. As he demonstrated each move, we could clearly see them listed on the monitors around the gym. We saw the exercise, number of reps or time, the recovery, and the changeover.
I started with the floor group. We paired off and then one person started on the TRX while the other person got busy with the bodyweight and later dumbbells. Over the course of 25 minutes, we completed a series of partner training blocks, as well as various circuits and intervals. Halfway through class, with my strength and mobility completed, I got on the treadmill. This three-part round started with a 4% incline at 5K pace for a quarter or third of a mile (varied based on skill level). Then we grabbed Wreck Bags and took off again for an additional 0.15 miles. Then we dropped the Bags and launched into a 600m row. After that, we repeated the process, increasing the incline a few more degrees each round. To cap it off, David added a bonus thanks to yours truly.
We transitioned from this training block straight into “Max Distance Intervals.”
The first one was at 2% incline for 75 seconds with a goal of hitting maximum possible distance (or as David said complete failure). Then a short break of 30 seconds, then back on at 0% for another 75 seconds at (hopefully) a faster speed. And that my friends are how the OCRMudmaster discovered his HIIT breaking point.
But David had one more surprise for me.
We talked earlier in the afternoon about our favorite races. Palmerton, of course, ranks right up there. So, after all this wonderful treadmill work, David wanted me (sorry to the rest of you) to do one final task. A 30-second maximum effort “Dynamic Sprint.”
We disengaged the transmission and actually pushed into the handlebars of the treadmill like it was a prowler sled, but sprinting at top end speed. Fifteen seconds in my legs turned to mush. Twenty seconds in the mush turned to unbelievable pain. And the breaking point I found before paled in comparison to the misery and fatigue that set in for the final ten seconds of work.
These sprints, and lots of treadmill hill work are how David prepares for mountains in a city mere hills.
Which simply means that I need to add more HIITs and hills to my training if I really want to kill it at Blue Mountain this July.
Whether you have similar aspirations or not, you will certainly expend a similar amount of perspiration at Elevate Interval Fitness. You can go at your own pace. But David is there to push you if you want it. He’s there to correct form, improve your technique, and help you become a champion. He’s got a few of those at his gym. One guy in the class that day was a mid 2:30’s marathoner. A few of his female athletes have their sights set on Spartan podiums this season. One thing David absolutely assured me of is this: he knows more than just about anyone when it comes to prepping for a race. I have no doubt he will produce winners here. I have no doubt that his cycle of race/retire/race will produce a few more W’s for him too.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy watching him host all the other races in the Spartan Series. That is a job he truly loves and excels at. The man knows OCR, the athletes, and the community. I can tell he has a blast working the mic with Amelia, Brakken, and the others.
Anytime you’re in the D. C. area, I encourage you to work out with David Magida at Elevate Interval Fitness. I give them a five-star Mud Run Guide rating.