Five reasons to drop the weights and get into OCR this year

Cover art Paolo Lacambra Lopez

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No New Year’s resolution is complete without the annual grappling with one’s fitness lifestyle. Gym memberships spike and suddenly everyone is an expert on the nuances of the Keto diet, intermittent fasting, or some form of ‘quick cleanse’ that they swear works like magic. Fast forward several months and the enthusiasm seems to wane, with most falling out because the routine is monotonous and uninspiring.

Enter, obstacle course racing (OCR). You’ve seen it on shows like American Ninja Warrior, and shared online through popular events like Tough Mudder and Spartan Race. OCR is the country’s latest fitness activity, taking an innovative approach towards traditional marathons.

Here are five reasons why you should be getting into OCR this year:

Breaks up your workout routine

OCR has leaped in popularity among fitness enthusiasts looking to swap their resistance and cardio training for something more functional. Instead of repetitive pull-ups on a bar, you’re scaling and descending walls. Instead of mindless running on a treadmill, you’re leaping across gaps and between platforms.

There are a number of reasons OCR has leapfrogged other fitness trends like spinning and CrossFit, but none so potent as the effect it has on one’s total well-being. Later in this article I’ll be diving into the psychological impact OCR has on one’s self-esteem that makes it such an effective way to rehaul one’s lifestyle.

Pushes you to overcome obstacles (literally and figuratively)

From swinging through more familiar playground monkey bars to running straight up a vertical wall, there are many obstacles (some easier than others) that you need to literally overcome during a race. Some fan favorites include the: Warped Wall, the iconic ‘Ninja Warrior’ finisher, and the Spear Throw, making you feel like a Spartan straight out of 300.




The obstacles are definitely fun, but more importantly they require technique to accomplish properly. As with any challenge, these obstacles can eventually be conquered with constant practice. This is where that psychological boost comes in.

Facing a mental challenge requires commitment to conquering it, and some creativity in tackling it. OCR provides a hard task (overcoming an obstacle), a platform for training (OCR classes), a support system during race (OCR teams), and finally the satisfaction of finishing the task (finishing the race).

Challengers take on a “Growth Mindset” during the weeks of OCR training, as a person aims to be able to be better than they were last week in training. As with any skill training regiment, it’s a commitment to progress, not perfection. And that’s a mindset one can take into any challenge — be it building your body, or your budding business.

Builds camaraderie and teamwork

Need a great team building activity? Look no further than OCR races which encourage people to help each other overcome the obstacles on display. The ‘Tough Mudder’ race is a classic example of one race where you sign-up with a team and help each other throughout the race. It was such a popular race that even the cadets of the Marine Corp of the Philippines competed and helped not just their fellow cadets but other competitors too.

Take the Rings for example. In this obstacle, racers need to swing from ring to ring, much like they would a set of monkey bars. But well into the race, this can be difficult for less athletic challengers. This is where teamwork can come in. A number of racers took to riding on the shoulders of their teammates in crossing the rings, taking the strain off their shoulders and just having fun with it. The rules are intentionally loose in these races, to allow for great team building moments like this.

Become part of a growing community

There are a growing number of fitness enthusiasts who have already taken their first few steps toward competing in an OCR race. Some celebrities have even joined in such as Nico Bolzico, Erwan Heussaf, and Maggie Wilson-Consunji to name a few. On more than one occasion, they even compete alongside you on the same obstacles at the same time.

The OCR community is an ever-growing one and builds that sense of belonging through a shared common experience which is difficult but satisfying once over. The camaraderie that OCR creates a feeling of belonging. Competitors join a tribe of fellow enthusiasts passionate about growing OCR in the country. The POSF (Philippines Obstacle Sports Federation) have done a great job so far and was even able to have OCR become an official SEA games sport — just another obstacle that the OCR tribe has successfully conquered.

And it’s never been easier to start

More and more races have been sprouting up with brands such as Tough Mudder and Spartan providing more races as compared to previous years. This, along with the upcoming launch of the new world-class OCR facility opening in SM Aura: Pretty Huge Obstacles, has made it incredibly easy to get into OCR. There is even a group who handles the grassroots of OCR: OCR Academy, that caters to everyone from adults, to kids, to even pets.

Obstacle course racing is a holistic path to functional fitness, allowing competitors to join a growing tribe of people bent on challenging themselves, and helping each other grow in the process. It’s never been easier to join in. If you’re truly committed to getting better, why wait for another new year to make that resolution?