Last month we were honored to host a workout with two local athletes, Fontaine Kaufmann and Chrish Newell.
Fontaine Kaufmann is a competitive obstacle course racer, Spartan racer, and ultra-marathoner. Chrish Newell is a Spartan racer, obstacle course racer, and grip athlete who currently holds the world record on the beater bar. Both of these athletes are highly competitive and active in the local community. It is common to see them at a hike, relay, race, obstacle course, marathon, etc…
At Couch Potato Strong we strive to provide applicable health advice directly from people living the healthy lifestyle. During this workout and interview we discussed fitness motivations, goals, and practical fitness advice for the average person. Instead of transcribing the entire 8 minute interview, the following is a summary of the best advice from the segment. The entire interview is available for viewing at Click Here
Unlike previous visits, we decided to have our workout first due to an impending heatwave. Additionally, unlike previous visits, we had additional athletes in attendance whom did not interview. These athletes were, Jeremy Kaufmann, who has previously interviewed with Couch Potato Strong, and, local soccer player Gerysand Cabanilla (longtime significant other of Chrish).
We all warmed up with 3 sets of 10 chop-feet, push-up burpees. Then we moved onto the Golden Potatoes. Both Chrish and Fontaine set records on the Golden Potato. Chrish showed off her grip by performing 9 Golden Potato pull-ups. Fontaine showed off her grip as well by pulling over 45lb with a backwards two finger claw grip on the Golden Potato (not an easy grip to utilize). Jeremy and Gerysand also set Golden Potato records in lift and weighted pull-up.
After setting some Golden Potato records we moved onto tire flipping. Fontaine and Chrish both flipped the 460lb tire without much trouble. We were thoroughly impressed with this because not only is the tire massive and heavy, it is a full 60lb above the men’s Spartan tire weight!
Now sufficiently warmed up, Chrish and Fontaine set their sights on claiming stones in their name. To have a stone named after you at the Couch Potato Garage, you must lift the stone, and, carry the stone 181ft without a single drop. Keep in mind, the Spartan women’s atlas stone is 70lb and is carried 100ft, in a straight line.
Fontaine claimed a 106lb natural stone, and, Chrish a 115lb natural stone. Our stone carry course is not a straight line, one must navigate around a tree, and, the ground for this carry is uneven. Additionally, our natural stones are not round like an atlas stone, they are awkward, off balance, and, a challenge to grip. This is a true test of functional strength, and, these two athletes dominated the challenge.
Next was a head to head competition between Chrish and Fontaine. Last woman standing. This involved passing a 70lb atlas stone back and forth to each other over a 4ft bar. The contest ends when one person can no longer pass the stone over the bar. When setting up this event, we informed Chrish and Fontaine the standard height for amateur strongman was 44″. So, they decided to set the bar at 48″.
After the stone over bar event, we moved onto the medley. The medley featured the 10-inch bmx bike, 111lb atlas stone, 100lb duck walk, 150lb yoke, 50lb slosh pipe, 120lb arm over arm pull, and, 460lb tire. We held the medley towards the end of the workout, Chrish and Fontaine were pretty wore out by this time, however, both powered through the entire course.
We quickly ate up over 3-hours of the day. This was the longest guest athlete workout we have held. At the end everyone was tired, but, wanted to try more events. During this lengthy workout, we tried less than 1/3 of the events at the Couch Potato Garage.
“This is so much fun…. Goal is to have a setup something like this.” – Chrish
After the medley we did more grip work with the Hercules Hold. Jeremy and Gerysand each managed to flip the 621lb tire. Chrish set the Golden Potato fingertip pull up record at 3 (a record we expect to stand for a long time), and; we finished the workout with some no hang grip pulls. All in all the workout was a ton of fun.
“This is such a fun way to workout out. It’s just like playing around.” – Chrish
After the workout we moved onto the interview segment.
When asked what event from the workout she enjoyed the most, Fontaine stated that she enjoyed the head to head contest with Chrish.
“The head to head with the atlas stone, when Chrish and I were going back and forth over the bar, that was cool; because, I have definitely not done that before.” – Fontaine
This was also the first time we held this event with guest athletes at the Couch Potato Garage. It was fun to watch two close friends rival at this event.
Chrish stated that she enjoyed the tire flip. Our 460lb tire is 20.5 inches wide (or tall when laying flat). It is both heavier and more massive than the men’s Spartan race tire. Both Chrish and Fontaine managed to flip this tire several times each during their workout!
“I really want to get that 600lb [referring to our 621lb tire].” – Chrish
Chrish and Fontaine both showed interest in flipping our massive 621lb tire. Chrish with the statement above, and, Fontaine with an actual attempt at the tire during her workout. She managed to budge the tire off the ground, which, seemed to only motivate her to get stronger and come back to try again in the future.
When asked what motivates her to compete, Fontaine stated that she simply wants to be the healthiest version of herself. Additionally, she would rather not sit around and do nothing. Competition gives her an avenue for becoming healthy, and, keeps her from being sedentary.
Chrish stated that she simply has a very competitive personality. She hates to lose. She wants to be the very best at everything she does. To fuel this, she seeks groups of similar people who strive to push themselves, and each other through friendly competition.
“It’s one thing to go out and do a run, but, I feel you get a better workout if you’re competing.” – Fontaine
When asked what her greatest athletic achievement was, Chirsh stated that she earned 2nd place in her age group in her first Spartan race. Fontaine stated that her greatest achievement thus far was trekking 45 miles in under 12 hours.
“We like to run a lot.” – Fontaine
Both Chrish and Fontaine stated that though they had achieved some awesome fitness milestones, neither felt like they have had a major athletic achievement. Both Chrish and Fontaine have larger achievements they are working towards.
Fontaine hopes to managed a 50-mile trek in under 12 hours. Chrish hopes to someday compete at the Obstacle Course Racing World Championships.
“Once races start up, I really want to go to the OCR world championships, and, race there and see how that would go.” – Chrish
Unfortunately, as Chrish stated, her goal will have to wait until races start up again. The global pandemic, and resulting quarantine has impacted all forms of athletic competition. In addition to goals involving sanctioned competition, Chrish and Fontaine have had to set personal goals to stay active during the quarantine.
Chrish has set a goal of rehabbing back to 100% health during the shutdown. She is also continuing to prepare for obstacle course and Spartan races. Fontaine found other methods of staying active, and, challenging herself.
“All of our races were canceled… We have a friend with a boat, so, we started wake boarding. So, I guess my goal now, is to clear the entire wake behind the boat. I’m very close.” – Fontaine
In order to rehab back to 100% health, Chrish must overcome the challenges involved with a serious athletic injury. Specifically, a torn ACL. The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is critical to knee stability. A tear to the ACL can result in a career ending injury. Chrish actually tore the ACL during her first Spartan race, the race she finished in 2nd place. Three days later she played a soccer game and tore it further. After some convincing, she had it checked out. The MRI confirmed a torn ACL. For most people that would be the end of the season, not for Chrish.
“I went out and did the Spartan Beast, because, I wanted to finish out my season, at least.” – Chrish
After confirming the torn ACL, Chrish decided she would complete the one final Spartan race she needed to finish out the season. However, this was not just any race. This was the Spartan Beast, the heaviest, longest, and most difficult Spartan race. Now, of course I would never recommend anyone perform athletic activities with a torn ACL; however, if you are going to compete in this condition, do so intelligently.
Chrish made sure to have a partner during the Beast, and, to not push herself to her limits. Listening to her body helped ensure her injury did not become a career ender. For Chrish, the thought of not finishing out the season was more crushing than the thought of rehabbing the injury, so, she took the risk.
Injuries in athletic competition are inevitable. Whenever a competition pushes people to their limits, someone in the competition is going to exceed those limits. Your goal as a competitor is to be better than those willing to push themselves to their absolute limit. This means, you too must push yourself to your own limits, and, beyond. This is a risk competitive athletes must accept.
“I haven’t, luckily, been that injured…yet. So, we’ll see.” – Fontaine
When asked what her worst injury was, Fontaine stated that she had not had a major injury….yet. Fontaine has accepted the fact that with competition, injury is likely, and, with that, she continues to compete.
Two days before this scheduled visit, we reached out to Chrish and Fontaine informing them the weather report had a heat advisory out for the day of the workout. Temperatures were expected to be above 100f. We asked if they wished to reschedule, neither had a problem with the heat, and, neither wished to reschedule.
We also informed Chrish and Fontaine that we did not have a lot of lighter weight equipment, and, our smallest tire was 60lbs above the men’s Spartan tire weight. This also did not phase Chrish and Fontaine. Nor did the fact that all our natural stones are at least 30lb above the Spartan women’s atlas stone.
Both athletes showed up, claimed stones over 100lb, and, flipped the massive 460lb tire. They did this all in 100+ degree heat, and, never complained. Spirit is what allows you to keep going when times are tough. It is important to do things you do not want to do, but, you know will benefit you. To finish a season with a torn ACL, or trek 45 miles in 12-hours takes a great deal of mental fortitude.
The only way to train spirit is to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. You don’t need to go way out of your comfort zone. Don’t go from walking to cliff jumping. Simply walk a little further than last time, or, at a slightly faster pace. By consistently pushing yourself just outside of your comfort zone, you continually improve and gain confidence while doing so.
“It [working out] gets easier, there is that point you hit where it’s so hard, you hate starting it; and then, all of a sudden things get easier. That’s when it’s rewarding and you keep pushing yourself.”
When asked what advice they had for the average person trying to get healthy, they stated the following:
“It’s so easy, you can do literally anything. Go for a walk with your dog, and, that’s a great starting point”. It doesn’t have to be extreme stuff, like picking up giant rocks or running 45 miles.” Fontaine
“Do what you love… Don’t just go out and run because people tell you to run. Do what you enjoy doing, whatever that is, and, just be consistent.”
I don’t think there exists better practical fitness advice. Simply, find something active you enjoy, and, stick with it. Sound advice that will help anyone live a healthier life.
Take care and keep moving,
Couch Potato Strong.
Kaufmann, F. (2020). Among the stones. Couch Potato Strong. https://youtu.be/ab7Mt_g7AFQ
Newell, C. (2020). Among the stones. Couch Potato Strong. https://youtu.be/ab7Mt_g7AFQ