Do you have what it takes? Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members and employees that participated in the Strength and Endurance Competition, the week of June 16, were asked that question. The event took place at the Salt River Diabetes Prevention Program’s Fitness Center.
The Strength and Endurance Competition usually takes place during the month of June and brings in many individuals wanting to compete.
“Competition is about testing ones fitness levels overall and not just strength,” said Dion Begay physical fitness specialist for the Salt River Fitness Center. “The bench press competition is a great way to test ones upper body strength but you can’t gauge fitness and athleticism with just a one rep max competition, and there are some very fit and athletic people out here.”
“So a couple years ago, Community member Anthony “Thosh” Collins was here during the bench press competition and asked me when we are going to do something to test athleticism and endurance. From there I began to brainstorm and came up with the idea of the strength and endurance challenge. I designed this program to test ones athleticism, muscular endurance and strength in certain areas such as pull ups, explosive power production, conditioning and cardiovascular endurance, but it can also test a person’s mental fortitude and mental strength,” said Begay.
Early morning, beginning at 7 a.m., participants would trickle into compete before their day started, one participant was Community member Shashoni Marcus who was working on her squats. “It’s kind of hard,” laughed Marcus who was eager to complete each task, as she used her lower body muscles almost until they failed her.
“We have to do as much as we can in a minute, such as squats, planks, push-ups and deadlifts,” Community member Cecil Villalpando said about some of the exercises involved in the challenge. “We also have to sprint and I’m not really a runner, but I completed it under [the time], so I’m happy with that score,” said Villalpando. But the competition is really about doing the best you can do.”
Begay also wanted to keep the challenge simple, so most exercises he included were general or primal movements that are common within a well-rounded fitness, strength and conditioning program. Begay didn’t want to include any strange or unfamiliar exercises, that meant there be no highly technical movements such as Olympic lifts or kettlebell exercises.
The Bench Press Competition
As a part of the Strength and Endurance Competition, many Community members and employees also participated and also came to witness the 2014 Bench press competition on June 19, at the Salt River Fitness Center. This year the competition was split into several different weight divisions, in previous competitions there were only a few divisions.
Community member Travis Cuch was relieved to find he didn’t have to match up against someone in his weight class who was much bigger than him like last year. “I like it better this year, I feel more confident in myself,” said Cuch.
There were many familiar faces, new faces and spectators, indicating the growing popularity of the event. During each participants turn the gym sounded like an arena with all the spectators screaming “you can do it” or other encouraging words.
“I actually only competed to see what I could do,” said first time participant and Community employee Denise Ryan. “I am not a weightlifter at all, I am more of a casual runner. I only started trying to lift weights two weeks ago when one of the police officer’s told me about the bench press competition and suggested I try it out. It was cool to watch all the other competitors, especially to see the spirit of encouragement and camaraderie that there was in the room, it was less a “competition” and more of a fun gathering and more about getting a personal best than trying to beat out someone else.”
Begay added that both competitions are a good gauge to see where a person’s fitness levels are and allows a person to see what deficiencies they have or areas of training they are lacking.
“Where someone might be able to do 60 push-ups in a minute, but are unable to do more than three pull ups, lets them know they have a severe training imbalance from their pushing regimen to their pulling regimen and allows them to start focusing on those areas they are lacking in. It also gives a person a great sense of pride that they can complete in a competition that is pretty difficult. For others, it was a reality check they are not as fit as they think they are, or have let sedentary lifestyles consume them and they are not training as much as they once were, hopefully being an eye opener for them to start being physically active to prevent obesity and the illness and sicknesses that come with being obese.”
“I encourage everyone to get out and start doing some sort of physical activity, you don’t have to do training for an event like this, just get out and get moving and make physical activity a part of your everyday lifestyle, like breathing, eating and sleeping do work,” said Begay.