Category Archives: Blog

GUNG HO AWARD — Lisa Olsson & Connie Mitchell

connie-and-lisa-2Gut Check is about strong bodies, strong friendships, and pushing the limits. We’d like to recognize two people deserving of the Gung Ho award:

Lisa Olsson & Connie Mitchell

As the saying goes, “Friends that workout together, stay together!” Lisa and Connie were introduced to Gut Check at about the same time almost 2 years ago and they are still pushing their limits, upping their weights, and achieving goal after goal together! All the Gut Check trainers know them because they drop in everywhere, usually as a pair, and give it their all each and every time. They are fast, strong, and “love” a good workout.

Inspired by the King of the Hill series, Lisa and Connie’s rest day usually consists of gathering friends and climbing a mountain. After catching the trail running bug, Lisa was determined to run the Ragnar Trail Relay and organized a Gut Check team of people she didn’t know and quickly made a family out of it.  That’s Lisa. And, of course, Connie was right there with her.

To quote Connie:

“Aspire to be deserving,”

and that’s just how they live their lives — inspiring others to do the same!

They’ve both come such a long way and can share with you their stories. We are proud of them both and honored that they represent Gut Check Fitness!

SoCal Super Spartan – 1st Place Finish!

This past weekend Team Gut Check — consisting of the San Diego, Las Vegas & Los Angeles crews, took approximately 30 racers to compete in the Vail Lake Super Spartan and the Spartan Sprint.

The Super Spartan obstacle race provides an 8+ MILES / 20+ OBSTACLES battlefield of insane mud running with 15 or more obstacles to test your physical strength and mental resolve.

This mud fest of a race has many trials to push you to your limits consisting of mud runs, trails, and both mental and physical obstacles and challenges. The Sprint is about half the distance plus obstacles. Both are very challenging for the average person but apparently not for the Gut Check team as they walked away with many age group podium finishes and Gut Check swept the Super Spartan Team division in 1st place!

Check out this video and pictures…

-Joe Decker

Socal Super Spartan

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How to Train For an Obstacle Race

By Joe Decker

Obstacle races are the fastest growing trend in the fitness industry. Unless you live under a rock I’m pretty sure you’ve noticed that or most likely have done one yourself. Ok so they’re out there, everyone is doing it but how do you properly train for an obstacle race?

Good question. Having been in the fitness industry for many years and having done many myself, I get asked this question all the time. Like any other event, say a marathon, triathlon, you name it, to finish strong and do your best you must train specific to your event. This principle is called ‘specificity’ which basically means if you’re going to do a running event you should run more, the same with swimming, etc.

Obstacle course races generally involve a good amount of cardiovascular endurance, muscle endurance and some strength and a decent amount of flexibility. Basically you need to train all the components of fitness.

My first recommendation is you get on the trusty ole internet and do some research on your particular course. The most popular races are the Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder and Spartan Races. All vary in distances, from a 5k up to 15 miles and in amount of obstacles from about 5 up to 25 or more. At least get a good idea of the distance you will need to cover and the amount of obstacles you will need to overcome. Once you’re done this now it’s time to train.

I generally like to give myself 12 – 16 weeks to train for an event. This is really up to you and how well you want to do or how much time you want to put into it. It’s your call. If you are out of shape and just signed up for a Super Spartan or Tough Mudder, you had better give yourself this amount of time. Trust me on that one.

So what are some things you should work on to get ready for your race?

  • Trail running – Almost all the OCR out there are on trails. If you’ve never run on trails before it is a different animal. You certainly want to get used to the uneven ground and many times rocky surface. With experience you gain confidence and will most likely have a better time.
  • Race distance – The Warrior Dash is generally a 5k with Tough Mudder and Super Spartan being around 10-15 miles. So with the WD you would probably want to get fairly comfortable with running a 5k distance. With TM and Spartan you’re going to want to put in more miles and I’d even suggest being able to do a half marathon on the road because the trail courses are certainly going to be more challenging.
  • Hill Repeats –You’re longer and tougher courses love to throw lots of hills in there to beat your legs up and make their events that more challenging. Trust me this will come in handy for the big boys. Don’t put any hill time in and it could make for a long day.
  • Strength training – Whether you do Crossfit, hit the gym a couple days a week or workout at home, being strong will help out. Spartan throws strength obstacles in like boulder dragging, tire carrying, rope climbing and more. TM just has so many challenging obstacles to tackle that you certainly will be glad you were strength training prior to the event to avoid muscle fatigue.
  • Flexibility training – All the up and down plus over and under can certainly take a toll on your body. Having a good degree of flexibility from incorporating yoga, pilates or your own daily stretching will not only help you overcome these obstacles but most likely help keep you injury free.
  • Obstacle Specific Workouts – With OCR becoming so popular you are seeing numerous OCR training programs pop up around the nation to help get individuals ready for the demands of the events. My own company Gut Check Fitness, here in San Diego has been doing just that for about 15 years. It recently got selected as one of the “Top 10 Most Creative Camps in the Nation” and is the only World Record Breaking, 2 x Death Race winning program in the world. We can help you get ready for any OCR there is. In addition you can find Beginner OCR programs on our very own – to help you get pointed in the right direction and on your way to having a great event.

Obstacle course racing is here to stay. If you haven’t tried one yet I certainly recommend it. There are so many different options to choose from. While proper training is important and will help you enjoy your event more, the most important thing is that you have fun while doing it. When we were third grade the best part of our day was recess. Even though your 23 or 43 now why shouldn’t this be true? Get out there, climb over things, get muddy and have a great time doing it with friends! Enjoy!

Why Gut Check Works

header_events_group_photonlyIt seems like almost everyone is getting involved in group exercise today. On any given day in a warehouse, in a park or at the gym you can find people exercising together. There’s everything from Running Clubs, Crossfit Gyms to Boot Camp classes. So why exactly are so many people jumping off the ‘lone wolf’ ship to work out with others in a group setting? What is the big attraction?

I’ve been involved in fitness for 25 years now and have belonged to power lifting and running clubs, but I’ve also been that solitary figure in the gym and on the road. I do feel this has given me a pretty good understanding of the appeal and the dynamics of both. Years ago I started my own outdoor fitness company, Gut Check Fitness, which has been voted “A-List Best Boot Camp” San Diego and Competitor Magazine, “Hardest Workout.” This is where my passion lies. Whether you join a workout group or get your own group of friends together for a workout, here are three reasons that more is merrier for earning your fitness gains.

Unless you’re that rare person that can jump out of bed at 5 a.m. and hit the ground running, odds are that getting and staying motivated is difficult for you. You are not alone. The majority of the people I’ve worked with over the years have had the same problem. That’s one of the great things about the group setting. Many people who attend a class will show up exhausted from the ups and downs of everyday life. But once they join the group, they become re-energized. With a friendly fitness instructor there to light a fire under your rear, it can’t get any better.
Not only are you more motivated to get out of bed and exercise, but there’s the motivation to improve your current fitness level. If you work out with people who are faster, stronger or fitter than you, you are probably going to get in better shape. There’s an old saying that goes, “The lead dog sets the pace for the rest of the pack.” Think about it.

Remember when you were in high school and your mom would wake you up in the morning? She was holding you accountable. If you were anything like me, you probably wouldn’t have graduated without her wake-up calls. Thanks Mom! A workout group can do the same thing for your exercise routine. I’ve had countless clients over the years at Gut Check Fitness say, “I wouldn’t be there in the morning if I didn’t know that Nicole, Meg, Mike, Jake, etc. were going to give me a hard time for not showing up.” The fear of group teasing gets them out of bed. Hey, it works! Plus, there’s the friendly instructor again that keeps track of your tardiness. We take a daily roll at our classes then each week we look to see who’s been playing Harry Houdini. If we haven’t seen someone for a week or two, we’ll generally send them a friendly reminder with the threat of numerous burpees. This usually does the trick.

Group Camaraderie
Human beings are social creatures. Yes, a few are hermits and recluses, but the majority of us love to be around other people. We love to laugh, joke and have fun. I feel this is one of the greatest products of a group workout setting. Nothing brings people closer quite like misery and physical suffering. If you’ve ever done a boot camp or similar class, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
Many people sign up to get more fit and along the way become friends through this mutual ritual. Many become lifelong best friends. Our classes not only work hard together, but they play hard together. We regularly have happy hours, wine tastings, and sports days where we do races and events together. We sincerely enjoy one another’s company. It’s truly one of the best ways to meet people like you and develop a common bond while getting into the best shape possible. Joining a workout group can keep you motivated, hold you accountable and help you develop a sense of group camaraderie.

Finally, in a world where we’ve become so dependent on email and texting, working out with a group offers that human interaction that is slowly disappearing. We can do just about everything today virtually without ever talking to a person. But with group fitness, you have to get involved. You can try to escape to the back of the pack, but a good instructor will integrate you into the group whether you like or not. That’s why it’s called group dynamics, and that’s why technology will never replace the good ‘ole fashioned group workout. Get out of your cubicle, your car or your house and go meet other people that have a common interest just like you. You never know, you might just meet some real friends instead of the ones you find online.

Time to Suck Up for Your Gut Check


May 30, 2013
Original Article

Sometimes when you’re working out at your nearby gym, you may feel that you’re not being challenged enough anymore. You come in three or four days a week to stay healthy, but you find that you’re getting tired of using the same machines, going to the same classes or training with the same weights. You want to keep in shape, but you need a new routine.

If you are looking for something new to do that will also push you beyond any limit you have ever imagined, then San Diego-based fitness trainer Joe Decker has something for you: Gut Check Fitness.

Getting Started

fitness2xtreme-images-gutcheck-02-joe-deckerDecker is known as the “World’s Fittest Man” and holds a Guinness World Record for being the World’s Fittest Man.

He used to be overweight and out of shape, and now, he uses Gut Check Fitness to help others be the best they can be.

Participants in the program will find out what they are made of and will face challenges they won’t get in any other gym.

Gut Check Fitness classes take place in a variety of settings, from San Diego beaches to basketball courts to parks and gyms and recreation centers.

They are held three times per day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as twice a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Saturday classes are at 8 a.m until 9:30 a.m. During the week, class times are 6:00 a.m.-7:00 a.m. (Monday-Friday), 5:15 p.m.-6:15 p.m. (Monday-Thursday) and 9:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m. (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) (all times are Pacific).


fitness2xtreme-images-gutcheck-03-morning-workoutBoot camps focus on giving participants a total body workout that is constantly changing. Part of the session focuses on upper body and the abs before switching to the lower body, abs and cardio workouts.

A five-day-a-week schedule is recommended for anyone who wants to get the most out of the Gut Check program. A typical class might consist of a relay suicide run in which participants break into teams and complete weightlifting workouts after their leg of the race is completed.

Decker puts on a variety of events through the program, and two of the most well-known ones are the King of the Hill race and the SUCK.

fitness2xtreme-images-gutcheck-04-king-of-the-hillIn the King of the Hill, participants compete on a trail running course while completing fitness obstacles along the way.

The SUCK, meanwhile, is a physical event that lasts 12 hours. It prepares participants for King of the Hill and other races such as the Spartan race.

Participants run with heavy objects and complete fitness drills during the run. At the end of the race, everyone moves to a one-and-a-half hour boot camp on a Saturday morning.

Team Love

Gut Check was voted San Diego’s #1 Boot Camp in three consecutive years from 2009 through 2011. In 2009, it was voted the hardest workout by Competitor Magazine. Judging from various testimonials on the Internet, it’s easy to see why this workout is so highly acclaimed.

fitness2xtreme-images-gutcheck-05-team-loveOn the blog My Muddy Shoes, author Edgar Landa describes the workout as a “good time” and says, “I am having sick, twisted fun, to be sure, but fun nonetheless.” Landa also says Joe Decker is a “beast.”

A promotional video shows participants saying they are addicted to the workout and that they come back because they are treated as a human being rather than a number. They feel everyone in the group is supportive of each other and individual goals. To these people, the workout is the real deal, not a gimmick designed to make a company or any individual rich.

However, although Gut Check is loved by those who keep coming back for more, it has its downsides like any other workout program would. In a review, reviewer Lisa N. states, “They say anyone can do this workout ‘at their own pace,’ but I call that BS! Seriously, to be able to hang in this boot camp, you need to be in pretty great shape to begin with. My boyfriend is in shape, and he had a hell of a time keeping up as well.”

No Pain, No Gain

fitness2xtreme-images-gutcheck-07-no-pain-no-gain The physical side effects may also be too much for some to handle. Photos and videos show participants with bloodied hands after their workout.

Although it’s not clear how the injury happened, it could’ve been from one carrying a 30 or 50-pound bag of sand on their back while running, or holding a heavy bucket while heading up a hill.

Another physical side effect, as Landa states, comes from blisters on feet after running for a long time. Participants may feel out of breath or say they are ready to throw up. While this can be worth it, people who cannot handle such a workout should consider whether or not Gut Check would be right for them.

But for those who are serious about the program, it will end up becoming a lifestyle rather than just an ordinary workout.

Taking Action

Anyone interested in participating in Gut Check has several payment options for classes. The drop-in fee, or the price for people looking for one class, is $20. There is also a cost of $75 for five classes marked on a punch card. The best value, though, is unlimited monthly classes for $150. Groupon deals are available on occasion to save money. For example, a recent coupon offered 10 Gut Check classes for $49.

If one wants to save time, payment for classes can be made ahead of time via PayPal.

When arriving for their first class, participants should bring a water bottle, towel and dumbbells if they have them. They will also need a client information form, which asks about any medical conditions and past injuries, as well as emergency contact information.

The most important piece of information, however, is the death waiver. This states that participants understand the physical risks of participating in Gut Check Fitness and releases the company from any responsibility should the participant get injured or ill during classes.

For more information on Gut Check, visit their official website at


The “World’s Fittest Man” Favorite Workout Series

I’ve been working out now for almost 30 years. Wow where has the time and my hair gone?!haha…It’s funny but looking back over the years, workouts are kind of like an old pair of favorite shoes or a favorite sweatshirt or hat. There always there, comfortable and you just can’t get rid of them. As you can imagine I have quite a few workouts that fit this criteria but the one below is probably one of my favorite. Not meaning that it’s easy by any means because it’s not but I know that if I complete it that I’ll get one helluva workout. One of the greatest things about it is it can be done outside and just about anywhere. Whether you’re at the beach, on vacation or in the neighborhood park you should be able to find an area to do most of this workout. I call it a descending pyramid workout. There are 3 different levels to choose from depending on your current fitness level. Advanced reps are 50-40-30-20-10, Intermediate are 30-25-20-15-10 and Beginner are 10-9-8-7-6. So are you can see there are 5 circuits done with various repetitions depending on your fitness level. In my example below I’ll list the Advanced as that was generally what I did. So hold on and here we go!

  • Begin with a 5-10 minute jogging warm-up
  • Pull-ups (optional) I like to do a set of 10-15 before each round and change up my grip.
  • 50 box jumps or alternating step-ups
  • 50 push-ups
  • 50 sit-ups
  • 50 bench dips
  • Run/jog 400 meters (one lap around a track)
  • Chin-ups (optional)
  • 40 box jumps or alternating step-ups
  • 40 push-ups
  • 40 sit-ups
  • 40 bench dips
  • Run/jog 400 meters (one lap around a track)
  • Pull-ups (optional)
  • 30 box jumps or alternating step-ups
  • 30 push-ups
  • 30 sit-ups
  • 30 bench dips
  • Run/jog 400 meters (one lap around a track)
  • Chin-ups (optional)
  • 20 box jumps or alternating step-ups
  • 20 push-ups
  • 20 sit-ups
  • 20 bench dips
  • Run/jog 400 meters (one lap around a track)
  • Pull-ups (optional)
  • 10 box jumps or alternating step-ups
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 sit-ups
  • 10 bench dips
  • 5-10 min cool down
  • DONE!

The photo pretty much sums about how you’ll feel when you’ve finished this workout! Enjoy! Remember push yourself as hard as you can but don’t forget to have fun while doing it!

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The “World’s Fittest Man” Favorite Gear

I’ve been involved in competitive fitness of some sort for about 25 years. I started out as a powerlifter and football player while also running track for a little farming community in the Midwest where I grew up. Then I joined the military only to find Uncle Sam’s one-of-a-kind intense fitness program. After my time in the military, I decided to combine a couple newfound passions of Strongman with Ultra Running to eventually go on and break a World Record for fitness. Having a love of such diverse outdoor disciplines has called for a unique array of gear. Here’s my top 10 list of favorite gear that has helped me run long and fast, stay strong and be continually fit.

1. Real Foodvegis

I eat an array of fruits, vegetables & lean meats plus drink plenty of water daily. I take no supplements, no shakes and no shortcuts. My mantra is and always has been, “eat right, work hard and play harder.” You’ll find quite a bit of helpful eating information at the Food Guide Pyramid –

2. Body Glide

I do not leave home without it. As a big strong guy who likes to run, cycle and lift, I’ve found my frame more prone to chaffing in all the wrong areas. This stuff is a life saver, especially on long runs and rides.

3. Under Armour Compression Gear

Listen, if you’re going to be on the ground doing push-ups, on your back doing sit-ups or just running around in shorts and shirts all day, these babies keep the pieces and parts in place. Again, not glamorous but this is for real people and not prima donnas.

4. Injinji Socks

I swear by the toe socks. I’ve worn them across Death Valley, through the Himalayas and during numerous 100 mile trail races without getting one blister. They’re like Isotoner gloves for your feet.

5. Running Shoes

I have two favorite running shoes. My longtime love that has been with me since before the Guinness Book in 2000 is the New Balance 1220 series which is now the 1260. They have many styles and widths that fit great and hold up well.
My next pair is for down and dirty, in your face trail running. They are the Salomon XT Wings. Not quite the ride of the New Balance, but I call them the “Monster Truck of Off-Road Running.” They have gone with me to the Barkley 100 miler and Death Race with me.

King of the Hill Photo Galleries6. Watch

I’m not a big gizmo guy and actually still wear my old school Casio G Shock watch. It doesn’t have a compass or GPS but it is affordable, durable and still looks tough. I don’t like to sweat my pace or the mileage, but just enjoy my time on the trail.

7. Hydration Pack

I’ve been using CamelBak products for hiking, trail running and cycling since they first appeared on the market. I still love and use their products today. I have a 100 oz. OCTANE 18X hydration pack that goes everywhere with me. I wouldn’t leave home without it.

8. Osprey Backpack

Having been a ‘Grunt’ in the military and living out of my pack, I know the importance of having one that is lightweight, durable and comfortable. Osprey makes one of the best out there. My has raced with me across the Himalayas, the Sahara Desert and even won the Death Race a couple times.

Intense Training9. Tractor Tires

You can get large tractor tires from many implement dealers that are looking to get rid of them. I have about a dozen in my garage that range from 200 to 500 lbs. Who doesn’t love throwing around a big tire? And it’s an incredible workout.

10. Atlas Stones

Atlas stones range in size from 75 lbs all the way up to 500 lbs. This is another old school strength exercise that is lots of fun. It’s very effective and can be done outdoors. I got my stone molds from Slater’s Hardware.

The most important piece of gear is a healthy body, a strong mind and a fire inside of you.
You cannot buy this in a store. You have to be born with some of it and build the rest. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, only to fail miserably and then learn from your mistakes and come back stronger than ever. As the saying goes, “Where the mind is willing, the body will follow.”

These are just a few of the things I have continued to use over the years. They have helped me along the way and will hopefully do the same for you. But remember, gear can only help. You have to do the rest. Hope this helps you on your journey!

Don’t Cleanse; Rather, Eat Clean

Written by guest blogger, Kim Mueller, MS, RD, CSSD.  

Clean foodConsidering trying a cleanse diet, aka “detox diet”? You may think twice about it after results from a clinical review of data conducted at Georgetown University School of Medicine failed to demonstrate ANY of the purported benefits including weight loss and enhanced energy. Furthermore, in many cases, the client experienced symptoms detrimental to their well-being and performance such as abdominal pain, muscle cramping, nausea, and in more severe cases electrolyte imbalances, kidney failure, and liver problems.

So, instead of trying something so drastic and short-term, why not adopt a healthy lifestyle change that incorporates clean eating? Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, elite athlete and owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition Coaching (, Kim Mueller, recommends the following 5 tips for clean eating:

1. Stick to foods that contain shorter and recognizable ingredient lists. If you can’t carry the ingredient in your own kitchen, you probably don’t want to be eating it. Processed foods, which sadly make up the bulk of most inner aisle grocery shelves, contain chemicals and preservatives that are designed to enhance the shelf life of the food, not the human body.

clean food2. Boost the color (aka, fruits and vegetables) in your diet by aiming for at least 1, preferably 2, servings from each color of the rainbow each day. Frozen and canned products are ok, just stick to the unsweetened versions. Consider choosing organic for the following pesticide-ridden foods: apples, celery, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, spinach, kale, lettuce, nectarines, grapes, bell peppers, and potatoes. The pigments found in fruits and vegetables carry strong anti-inflammatory properties that can help ward of disease and enhance recovery.

3. Stay hydrated by sipping on fluids so that urine runs a pale or straw-like yellow. The body just doesn’t function at peak when deprived of water.  Not a fan of water? Try adding a splash of 100% juice to your water for a bit of flavor.

4. Focus more on plant proteins such as edamame (green soybeans), lentils, beans (all varieties), quinoa, nuts, and seeds. The American diet, as a whole, is focused way too much on animal
proteins and not surprisingly, our rates of heart disease, obesity, metabolic disorder, and so on seem to surpass the majority of the world’s population year in and year out. Even on heavy training days, most athletes need not exceed ½-3/4 gram of protein per pound of body weight. Aim to make at least half of these grams plant-based.

5. Add more probiotics to your diet. Probiotics are live micro-organisms found naturally within the digestive tract that, when maintained at adequate levels, help support intestinal health and enhance immune function. Most probiotics are of bacterial nature, thus the nickname “friendly bacteria”, and originate from the Lactobacillus (lactic acid bacteria, LAB, L.) or Bifidobacterium (B.) family, and can be found in such foods as yogurt, kefir, and cultured milk products and beverages.

myfirstmarathonwinWant more tips to help improve your health and performance?  Kim Mueller, MS, RD, CSSD, owner of Fuel Factor Nutrition Coaching (, is a Registered Dietitian, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Nutrition, & Exercise Physiologist who provides nutrition coaching, race nutrition guidance, and customized meal and planning to active individuals worldwide. She is also an accomplished runner with a 2:52 marathon PR.

Contact Kim at [email protected] to schedule your complimentary initial 30 minute consultation.

Queen of the Hill Q & A: Christina Kamme


As a continued inspiration to us all, we decided to spend a little one-on-one time with Christina, to ask her how she maintains her level of fitness awesomeness and how she became our “Queen of the HIll.” Check out what she had to say:

Q. What inspires you to participate in the events, races, classes?

A. Inspiring coaches, great friends, positive atmosphere and that you never know what is going to happen.

Q. How do you prepare? I.e. diet, training, motivation.

A. I eat leftovers and try to train consistently. I train to feel good and achieve harmony.

photoQ. What keeps you going strong throughout the events?

A. Gut Check training. Also I enjoy the beautiful surroundings when we are out. Everyone, race directors, competitors and volunteers are very supportive.

Q. What is the most difficult part for you during the events?

A. Not knowing when it ends e.g Gut Check Challenge …..arghhhh…………..

Q. How do you stay motivated?

A. I want to get to the finish line.

Q. Any tips, tricks or insider point of views?

A I try to appreciate the scenery around me while I run and do the exercises. When I’m struggling I’ll be singing a song in my head or thinking what the kids are doing right now. When I’m getting tired I shift my back pack weight up and down and focus on that and I will run with my feet close or wide apart.

Q. What is your proudest moment and or best event?

A. It’s really hard to say, every event has taught me something and given me great memories. One that stands out was when I won the second King of the Hill on Rabbit Peak in Anza Borrego. My hubby joined me on that one.

Q. Why Gut Check Fitness?

A. Great leaders! Positive energy, variety, lifetime friends and very happy when I survive, so, so far happy……….

Q. What planet are you from? Are you human or robot?!

A. haha…(this is from Joe!;-) Up until June 2011 I was an alien according to INS, now I’m a human, an American!