Road to Tuxedo: The Journey to My First Spartan Race

He's training for his first Spartan Race!

He's training for his first Spartan Race!


Introduction Written By: Mark Barroso, NSCA-CPT, Spartan SGX Coach

Hi, I’m Mark. I’m a personal trainer, Spartan SGX Coach and Spartan Obstacle Specialist. I’ve ran dozens of obstacle course. Check out my Athlinks profile HERE.  My current Spartan SGX client Albert has truly transformed himself mentally into a Spartan, and we haven’t even raced yet. Training Albert has made me appreciate the difference between an obstacle course racer and an OCR coach. There is something special about coaching someone for an OCR; you’re preparing someone for an event that is widely unknown to the majority of Americans. This blog will encapsulate the journey that an aspiring Spartan named Albert has and will go through to reach his goal of completing his first Spartan Race at Tuxedo Park, NY.

Here’s a snapshot of what we’ve done so far and what’s to come:
The Goal: Complete 2018 Tuxedo Sprint
First Session: January 2018
Race Date: June 2, 2018

Starting Weight with SGX Coach Mark: 256 pounds
Current Weight: 245 pounds
Inches Lost on Waist: 8
Muscle Increase in Arms: 1.5 pounds


Article Written by: Albert Cupo

I’m not here to tell you a fake story of how I woke up one day and decided to lose weight and everything went smoothly. That would be the biggest lie in the world because this took me twenty eight times. This is by far the most difficult thing I have ever done mentally and physically. I have worked hard in every facet of my life from obtaining my MBA degrees to my career as a professor at the current time. I am not saying these things came easy because they didn’t. I am here to tell you that the thing that I could never wrap my head around was a healthy lifestyle. Through graduate school and my professional life, I have worked late hours and I got lazy and just ate whatever I was able to find and it started to show. It showed not only physically but mentally as well. When you eat poorly, you begin to feel sluggish and unwilling to do anything physical.

I have been a member at 24 Hour Fitness for 10 years and I went through these times where I loved going to the gym but most of the time I thought of it as a huge chore. It only takes one hour a day four times a week and you’re golden, right? I thought that I had it in the bag. When I got in my rhythm of going to the gym at times, I would go four days a week but fail to realize that it was what you put in your body that makes all the difference. This is a problem that all of us face as human beings in a day where processed foods and a convenience culture is ever present. We want things at the ready with zero effort and you pay for that dearly in quality and nutrients that your body craves to perform. Fast forward past a few hardships including feeling like a failure and not even wanting to take the stairs anymore carrying my suitcase to a transformation.

I walked into 24 Hour Fitness in December of 2017, some four months ago from this date and that is where my journey began. I walked in positive and got a positive result. I just inquired about personal training to see if it was in my budget. They asked me what my goals were. For that moment I paused and the words, “I want to be able to do an obstacle course race” just came out of my mouth. The manager introduces me to Mark Barroso who is a certified SGX trainer with more races under his belt than most people could even understand. There was one thing I had all of my life and that was a blazing amount of confidence in conquering the things I knew that I could do. Weight loss and SGX training was not one of them. I had zero confidence that day until I made the excuse about money. Mark simply said, “No one has a library of workouts like I do and the same ability to push you in obstacle racing.” I signed up on the spot for 8 sessions and then resigned 2 more times. It cost me a lot of money but you know what…that money could have been spent on ludicrous items, fast food and alcohol. I decided however to invest it in myself.

That day I had weighed 256 pounds. I had lost 16 pounds from October until then simply dieting with a dietician but it wasn’t enough. I started at a total of 271 pounds. I finally asked for help in an area I didn’t know a god damn thing about. Currently, I now weigh 246 pounds from Day 1 of training in January which was when we started after signup day. Ten pounds doesn’t sound like a lot from then, now does it? Well how about 8 inches lost in my waist, 1 ½ inches of gain in muscle in both arms and dropping 4 pant sizes. I learned quickly that it wasn’t the scale that meant everything. The commercials you see on television and the magazines you read are all about that magic number that you LOSE over a certain span to attract you to spend tons of money for hopeful result. The real secret is the way you look in the mirror. I ignored the scale and listened to my trainer as well as my dietician.


I am here to change my life and look the way I have truly wanted for so long. I am not only embracing the lifestyle of Spartan but I am becoming one day by day. This will not be my first and last race. I am not doing this to say I did one and that’s it. This is my new beginning and my new sense of self. This is where I fight and leave my demons behind and give a sense of closure to my past. I have demons that will never leave that are beyond the scope of our conversation here but this allows me to deal with those internal battles much better. I have collapsed on the gym floor from bear crawls and difficult exercises but I made a vow to never ask for help up off of the ground. That is my way of saying thank you to the ones who have helped me get here and when I fall, this is now my motivation to just keep standing and move forward. My message for you no matter what your physical condition or mentality in life is to just keep standing. It is okay to fall but it is not okay to stay down. I will get back up! I will fight! I will show no mercy! I will transform and be a part of something bigger than myself! Share your success with the world and success will follow your positivity!


Week 1: The Workout
3 Rounds
.25 mile jog
10 Rope Climbs
Albert's Thoughts: This week we began rope training and I can say that it was as hard as I thought. The exercise in the video wasn't that bad but with that being level 1 I know that I'm in for a ride. Your hands burn quickly so I do suggest you wear gloves doing exercises like this. 
20 Weighted Vest Stepups
Albert's Thoughts: The weighted vest stepups aren't too bad for the simple fact that I have good endurance carrying heavy weight. I train with free weights regularly and box jump regularly as well so in combination as you see here it definitely comes together. In the middle of this exercise it starts to sink in that you do have a 40lb vest on you and it's taxing.
20 Reverse Crunches
20 Medicine Ball Partner Rotations


Albert’s preworkout thoughts.

Rope Climb Ups

Weighted Vest Stepup

Reverse Crunch

Week 2: The Workout
Exercise 1: Barbell Deadlift
Sets: 6
Reps: 10, 8, 6, 5, 3, 1
Weight: 135, 225, 275, 315, 355

Albert’s Thoughts: This was an extremely difficult exercise for me considering the difficulty of deadlifts in the first place. I always have strong legs which certainly help here but now I am pushing myself to new heights with the deadlift. My goal is to hit 1000 pounds combined between the squat, bench press and overhead press. I was a bit anxious at first before pulling the 355 pounds but during the lift my adrenaline and my motivation lifted that weight. The feeling was absolutely amazing during all of five seconds. I knew before the lift I can do it because I trained and worked toward that weight. My heart is going into my workouts and becoming a part of who I am and not just another chore.

Exercise 2: Rope Inverted Row
Sets: 3
Reps: 10
Albert’s Thoughts: The inverted rope rows are very difficult considering the rope has such a skinny grip. As painful as it is I don’t care anymore I am going to attempt and complete every exercise. Grip strength is vital for Spartan as my trainer Mark emphasizes day after day. This grip strength exercise is sure to test your limits when done in quantity.

Exercise 3: Bucket Carry
Duration: 5 minutes straight
Weight: 60 pounds
Albert’s Thoughts: The bucket carry is one of the most taxing Spartan workouts. Designed to bring strain on the back and test stamina, this exercise is not for everyone and must not be attempted unless you have been given proper grip and handling technique. I did collapse at the end but I did finish! This exercise is one of my favorite although it is one of the most grueling.

WEEK 2 Videos

Albert's 355 pound deadlift


WEEKS 1-2: Lessons Learned

I have been trying harder and harder to have the right form in my exercises and my trainer has been helping me with that and I have been working towards that as well. When I feel exhausted the whole point is to feel the pain and push passed it. I have learned that I have to work hard for what I want and that this will never come easy and above all to diversify your workouts. Doing thee same thing over and over will only get you so far. You must push your limits and just keep standing. The only limits that you have is the limits that you put on yourself. I am not putting limits on myself. I let my mind go rogue and say that I can do anything when it comes to fitness.

I'm fighting a life of poor choices and replacing them with difficult routines and a desire for the goal that is unprecedented. I didn't come this far to only come this far. Spartan didn't change's the ability to take your past that had been anchoring you down and say now is the time to change. Spartan was the catalyst. A brand name can't change you. You need to take the first step of admitting you need a change and then set a goal. You don't set a goal without understanding why you're doing it or it will never be fulfilled.Follow my story....make your own and build a legacy.

Road to Tuxedo: Week 3-4 of Spartan Race Training

Review: ClassPass Live Streaming Workouts