There is a training ground hidden away in Bonifacio Global City, and the ones who frequent it are dead serious about what they do.
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Pretty Huge Obstacles (PHO) is the largest indoor facility in Asia that is intended for one of the fastest growing sports in the world today: Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). This is a functional sport that involves a lot of running, swimming, and wall-climbing that is spread out in different stages. Think American Ninja Warrior, or the Spartan Race. More Filipinos got into it after the first ever Asian OCR Championship was held in Aseana City, Pasay last year.
“OCR is the fastest growing sport in the country and around 20 million people practice it all over the globe,” says Ritsuo Arao, PHO’s chief operating officer. “It combines many obstacles similar to military training and a combination of sports from the Olympics. It's a complete workout where you can test your endurance, speed, and skill in a fun way.”
The facility is located on the second floor of the Civic Center beside SM Aura Premier. Inside, there are zones for both adults and kids filled with challenges that are meant to push you to your limit: quintuple angle steps, monkey bars, 5-foot and 9-foot walls, balance beams, island hops, gymnast rings, cliffhangers, and tarzan swings. It even has an elevated track oval inside.
PHO officially opened its doors a couple of weeks ago. “Our idea for this facility began a year and a half ago right after finishing a big OCR race. We saw how successful it was and how happy the community was,” says the COO. He and his colleagues wondered where the racers trained for an event such as this. “We thought how cool it would be to have a place indoors where we could train and also mirror an actual race.”
The center offers group and individual OCR workouts, and classes such as yoga and functional fitness, while promoting an encouraging environment. Recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee, PHO serves as the official house of the Pilipinas Obstacle Sports Federation, too. Apart from that, It is also the official training facility of the National OCR team, the members of which are busy preparing for the Southeast Asian Games in November. The sport is being included in the biennial regional event for the first time, and our nationals are targeting a sweep of all six competitions: men's and women's 100 meters with 10 obstacles, 400 meters with 12 obstacles, and 5 kilometers with 20 obstacles. It will be hosted at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, and will be participated by three other Southeast Asian nations.
Arao says that, with PHO's more than a hundred obstacle configurations, members can work on different parts of their body, or do different types of training. “Our equipment and track oval allows everyone to have a different but complete full body workout every day. Each person’s creativity is the limit,” he quips.
Membership packages include adult and youth OCR programs, access to different classes, and in-house races. Upon starting, members get free assessment sessions from the coaches as well as the physiotherapists at their physical rehabilitation counterpart Physio and Stretch by Dr. Huge, which is within the premises. PHO coaches all have professional degrees and have World OCR level 1 and 2 certifications, and some are even part of the national pool.
Members are, howerver, advised not to do OCR every day. During those down times, the coaches suggest working on grip strength, which is essential to succeed in the sport. To help you in this aspect, the center has sandbags, kettlebells, medicine balls, dumbells, and TRX available for use.
The center doesn’t discriminate when it comes to age nor gender; even toddlers are encouraged to join. Teenagers are advised to test out the adult zone due to their strength and reach.
“Here, we want to help you improve your endurance, flexibility, mobility, strength, metabolic conditioning, body movement, recovery time, and also help prevent and minimize injuries,” Arao says. “These activities and classes will not only improve you in OCR or any other sport, but your daily life.”