Obstacle Course Racing has been one of the most exhilarating new fitness trends of the twenty-first century; making headlines in not just North America, but globally. Nearly 80% of adults 18-25 are familiar with the craze, and even my grandparents are coloring themselves intrigued. Noticeably, Crossfit gyms and boot camps are expanding their services to offer OCR training and profit off this new fitness craze. Although these “merger gyms” are commonplace in today's society, King's Camps and Fitness sets itself apart by offering authentic obstacle training courses. They are family-owned and operated by husband and wife duo Mike and Jenny King, and have successfully created an irreplaceable experience for ninja hopefuls and athletes alike.
Before King's Camps and Fitness became the premier Obstacle Course Race (OCR) training gym in the California Bay Area, it was an idea that took muddy root in the mind of Mike King during his first OCR race—the 2012 Squaw Valley Tough Mudder. A few swings on funky monkey was all it took to hook Mike on OCR racing, and with each race, he ran that year he fleshed out his plans to open a gym where anyone curious or passionate about OCR could come and train. By 2013, Mike had quit his Silicon Valley biotech job, obtained the necessary fitness certifications, and started offering OCR training camps. From there, he expanded King’s Camps and Fitness so that it would also offer Warrior Boot Camp classes. These classes complemented the OCR training so that men and women would not only have the knowledge to complete an obstacle, they also would have the stamina and strength to do so.
After a few weeks of research, praiseworthy reviews, and impeccable hospitality, Mike and Jenny King agreed to a formal interview where I could ask all of my tedious questions regarding the Camp.
Q: What can you tell me about your gym?
A: “King's Camps and Fitness specializes in training men and women to run obstacle course races. We believe that training matters—that you need to ‘train for your race not at the race,' as we like to say. Meaning, that before you compete in an obstacle course race you should spend some time focusing on your physical fitness (cause those miles won’t run themselves!), as well as your skills on actual obstacles. We use our Warrior Boot Camps, which alternate high-intensity interval training and strength training days, to increase a person’s stamina and strength.
And, we use our OCR Open Gyms and OCR Training Camps to utilize all the major obstacles you’ll find at Spartan Race (including Twister, Olympus, and the MultiRig), so that you’ll have the actual skill to complete them. What makes our OCR programming unique is that it’s designed by OCR-certified and race-experienced coaches so that it can support and challenge men and women from all walks of life–from the person who’s never run an OCR race to pro athletes.
In addition to expert and experienced coaches, our OCR community is especially welcoming and non-threatening. You’ll frequently see those that have never participated in any OCR race before chatting easily with pro athletes like Rea Kolbl Pra, one of our 2017 King’s Camps Pro Team members and winner of Americas Toughest Mudder. Unlike many other gyms, most people leave their egos at the door when they enter King’s Camps and Fitness. So even though we’re sweating hard, we’re still able to have a lot of fun with our friends while working out!
Q: What Kind of classes do you offer?
A: “In addition to our Warrior Boot Camp classes and OCR Open Gyms, we also offer an OCR Training Camp, a Young Warriors obstacle-based fitness class and parties, Warrior Yoga and in person or remote – personal training and run coaching. In 2017 we hosted three of our OCR Royal Races, a real obstacle course race (5+ miles – 30+ obstacles – bands over burpees) that was even featured in the Obstacle Order Podcast.”
Q: Are you affiliated with any race groups?
A: “Our facility will train you for any OCR race—Spartan, Tough Mudder, Terrain, Gladiator. While we have Spartan Street team members and Tough Mudder ambassadors who train at our gym, we are not affiliated with any one race group. We encourage our athletes to try as many OCR races as their pocketbook allows, as each group offers a different feel and flavor of OCR racing which keeps both an athlete’s mind and body on its toes! You’ll find our pro team and community members competing in OCR races all across the country at both local venues and national championships.”
Q: What has opening a fitness facility taught you?
A: “There’s an infinite number of things to worry about when you have a family-owned and operated business. The key to keeping your head above it all (and to getting a good night’s rest!) is to remember what truly matters—people. We opened King's Camps and Fitness because we wanted to support people and help them achieve their goals—whatever those might be. When the outside noise gets too loud, we’ve learned to take a deep breath, take a step back, and focus on our members. Their smiles, their successes, their penalty-free races are the reasons we do what we do. There’s nothing sweeter than seeing a 7-year-old child climb a rope for the first time, or see one member helping another member over a wall. The only thing that matters in this life are our relationships, and we feel extremely blessed to house a great community full of people who care not only about OCR, but about each other.”
Q: For those who are looking to visit you, what kind of membership options do you have? Do you do drop-in rates? Kids classes?
A: “We offer a variety of membership classes for our Warrior Boot Camp classes that range from punch passes, to monthly or yearly commitments. Our OCR Open Gyms and Young Warrior Classes are drop-in classes, though you can purchase 4 or 8 pack classes at discounted rates.”
Q: What advice would you have for someone looking at getting into the sport?
A: “If you’re looking to try an OCR event, you really do need to practice on the obstacles you’ll encounter at the race. This is the reason why we employ all the major obstacles of Spartan Race and many other OCR races. You can’t know how to get across monkey bars if you haven’t swung on any since grade school. It’s also important to check out the coaches and facility before you train someplace. Because OCR is trendy right now, many gyms say they offer ‘OCR training,' but this OCR training frequently just amasses to you lifting heavy items, do a bunch of burpees, or drag a sled. To be successful, you want to train in a facility that has actual obstacles and classes taught by certified coaches who run competitively at the races. Just like you wouldn’t want to learn to drive in a beat-up old car from someone who doesn’t themselves know how to drive, you wouldn’t want to train in a facility that’s not set up for obstacle course racing or take classes from a coach who’s never run a competitive race.”
In 2017, King’s Camps and Fitness was voted one of the top three gyms in the Bay Area, and by 2018 has had over 1000 men and women enter its door in the pursuit of a penalty-free OCR race. To those who frequent King’s Camps, the gym is more than a training facility. People come to King’s Camps and Fitness to learn technique from its SGX-certified coaches of course, but they also come to hang out and be surrounded by like minded people. It’s a muddy home to a dedicated community, where everyone is welcome and where anyone can learn to “overcome your obstacles.”