GREENFIELD — It’s hard to imagine Devon Brown being bored.
It’s hard to imagine that the self-proclaimed ‘fitness enthusiast’ – that’s what it says under Brown’s name on his business card – once logged 60-70 hour weeks sitting behind the desk of a health club.
It’s hard to imagine the Greenfield resident not being committed to the world of Obstacle Course Racing.
Brown, the former general manager of Family Fun & Fitness in Greenfield, was approached by Dennis Zeyen two years ago. Zeyen, a Family Fun & Fitness member and a friend of Brown’s, signed up the two of them for a Spartan Sprint race – an event that lasts at least three miles and contains a minimum of 15 obstacles – in April of 2012.
“Neither one of us had done one before and we thought it was crazy.” Brown said.
Over two years later, and Brown is in the midst of an OCR season that, by his estimation, will result in over 350 miles of racing.
Brown’s full-on foray into OCR is just part of his career transformation. Brown, who is also a certified personal trainer, founded Change Fitness in 2013, a company designed to get its clients to remove the traditional impediments of working out while also creating real-life goals for participants – such as competing in OCR.
Brown wants his clients to “train for the moment,” which ideally means they enter an OCR race and can compete under Brown’s supervision, if necessary.
“Not all of my clients will do a race, and that’s completely fine. I still want to find something that makes them uncomfortable and they weren’t ready for,” Brown said. “It’s great to become healthy and fit; it’s better to master or unlock something you felt you previously couldn’t do. Whether that be physically or not, that’s the kind of client I look for.”
Brown’s tale of taking an overweight woman to a recent Spartan race – competitions that can include fire jumps, spear throws and multiple wall climbs among other perilous activities – illustrate his devotion to the power of personal empowerment.
“She’s over 300 pounds and has never ran a 5K in her life, and I convinced her to do this race,” Brown said. “We found out when we got there that she’s terrified of water.”
After completing his own race that day, Brown and another competitor went through the woman’s entire four-mile race with her. For five and a half hours, the trio slogged through a mud pit, split burpee penalties – a burpee is a four-step full-body exercise that resembles a half-squat, half push-up – and went through a gamut of emotions, but completed the course.
“It was a battle for life every six inches. It was cool though. She’s actually done another obstacle course race since then and does my boot camp down in Greensburg,” Brown said. “We yelled at each other, we cried together and we pushed each other.
“The coolest thing at the end was when we crossed the finish line and her husband was there. He had been a big non-supporter at the beginning. She’s in her 50s, so he was saying, ‘Why would you do this at your age? You’re going get hurt,’ and telling her all the reasons why (not to do it). We crossed the finish line and he was the most proud he could ever be. That was a unique moment.”
Brown is always reaching out to people, hoping to help them find the resolve to try something new.
“The big thing about what I can do with Change Fitness is that I try to remove the barrier of ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I can’t go to,’” said Brown, a Greensburg native. “… A lot of people come (to Brown’s residence) because they want to use different things or they want access to equipment and aren’t members of a health club.
“But I also train at a lot of people’s houses or job. There are some companies where I’ll go there and they’ll have a gym but they don’t have a trainer. I’ll show up there and work with their staff on-site.”
Brown, a former Taylor University basketball player and IUPUI graduate, meets a married couple on their doorstep at 5:15 a.m. for their workouts.
“It fits. It’s at their house and they’re comfortable,” Brown offered. “They don’t have to deal with the hustle and bustle of the health club. They aren’t really for that.”
In order to prepare for OCR events, Brown undertakes a training regimen that would seem equal to or above that of a professional athlete. Brown trains two to four hours a day, four to six times a week. He routinely trains with a 40-pound sandbag, does over 100 burpees daily and completes a ‘suck’ workout – six hours of consecutive training – one or two times a month.
Brown often trains with an accompanying group in various parks and other places in Hancock and Marion County, and hosts bi-weekly ‘boot camps’ in Greensburg.
“The nice thing about being a personal trainer is you get to train a lot,” Brown noted.
Brown fully dove into OCR in 2013, competing in 15 events, including seven Spartan races across Indiana, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. He finished the Spartan season ranked 194th overall and 34th in his age group in the Open division.
Brown moved up to the Elite class at the start of the 2014 season and is presently ranked 401st overall and 74th in his age group. He has many goals on the horizon, including to become a top-100 Elite competitor and to compete in various OCRs in England, Australia and Nicaragua. Brown is also in talks to have a skydiving company drop him in for the start of a race. (He’s never been skydiving).
The all-for-one, family atmosphere of OCR was an unplanned but very welcoming benefit to Brown.
“I did triathlons for awhile and was semi-competitive with that. The thing I didn’t like about that was everybody was completely for themselves. In OCR you hang with each other, it’s completely different,” Brown said. “You’re vulnerable on the course. At some point, somebody’s going to help you up and you’re going to help someone else up. You’re going to get intimate. People are more genuine because of it.
“You get so many different backgrounds. It’s like being in a high school that doesn’t have cliques. You have guys that are preppy athletes. You have some of the grunge group. One of the guys in my training group has a beard down to his belly button. We go out on the course and all that gets dropped to the side.”
For more information on Change Fitness, visit ChangeYourFitness.com.