If you ever see a couple of guys at a Spartan Race that looked so similar that you have to do a double take, chances are it’s The Unbreakable Joneses. With their unmistakable headbands and Thing 1 and Thing 2 daubed across their chests, if you don’t see them doing something bizarre (liked doing the course blindfolded or tethered together, or perhaps carrying huge sledgehammers), it means they’re on only on their first lap. “Only”. What some might not know is that this is an awesome father and son team that have dazzled Spartan racers and spectators for quite some time with their unfathomable spirit and resilience. Eston, the son in the team, puts this all down to one man – his father.

“My Dad has always been the one pushing me to try my best at anything I attempted and guiding me to reach for those goals I may not think are possible. But he doesn’t do this just by talking to me, he does this through example. My Dad has always been right there with me in all the things I try, pushing me to try harder because I know that he is doing his best to beat me. He always set the bar to where he knows I can’t resist giving it my all to pass him. This motivation has meant the world to me in not only physical challenges and endeavors but in life in general.

“My Dad isn’t like normal dads. He doesn’t sit on the sidelines cheering me on. He doesn’t ‘leave it to the young buck’ to go out and do something challenging and worth while. He is always right there with me, participating in any and all of the crazy ideas that I may have. I get the bright idea that I want to run a 100 mile race……. he’s in. I want to go all the way to Vermont to run a race….. he says ‘I’ll do it’. Then when he announces that he wants to run 4 laps of a race and then get up the next day and run even more……. well… how can I say no to that?

Eston considers this his favorite picture of him and his dad. Note the training equipment in close proximity.

 

“They say the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and when it comes to this competitive spirit I have in me, that is perfectly spot on. My dad is always trying to beat me. We are always pitted against each other in an epic battle for who can win. Whether its lifting a weight, running the trails, swimming a few laps, I always know in the back of my mind that he is gunning for me. This friendly rivalry pushes me to be the best that I can be every day. Because my dad is no joke. He’s not some fragile old man to be taken lightly. There is every chance that he can beat me if I don’t push myself. If I don’t train hard every time. This motivation has been one of the most important things to me in my athletic training. It has made me be better than I ever would have been without him.

“Even though my Dad is my biggest rival, I know that he always has my best interests at heart. I know that he has always got my back and that he would do what is best for me. He is always making sure that I have everything I need to be the best I can be and to succeed in whatever I do. He doesn’t hand it to me on a silver platter, but he makes sure that, with hard work and dedication on my part, that whatever I am trying to do is possible.

“Thank you Dad, for everything that you do for me.”

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by Josh Strakos

“Thing 1 and Thing 2” lined up before the Texas Spartan Beast in Glen Rose, December 8, 2012

Meet the Joneses. Andrew, Stephanie, Eston, Caymin, and Madison. They live outside of Houston, Texas. They are not your average American family…

Americans in general do not get enough exercise. Childhood obesity is on the rise, and being overweight is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Family time together is eroding as we work longer hours, endure more job related stress, strive for material success, and sacrifice our time, our health, and ultimately our well-being chasing after an upper-middle class dream. We live to work, and it shows. Think you can solve all these issues with one remedy? Well, maybe there’s no such thing as a silver bullet, but there is a “cure” for this American-made malady.

If you mention Thing 1 and Thing 2 to any Spartan racer who’s been around, he or she will know you’re not about to read them a children’s book, you’re talking about father and son Andrew and Eston Jones.

L to R: Stephanie, Andrew, Eston, Madison, and Caymin before the TX Sprint in Burnet, May 19, 2012

“The Unbreakable Joneses” as the family is known to their friends and Facebook fans, have been racing together for about two years now and in that time have run about 10 races between the five of them. These races include the Spartan Trifecta, local marathons, Obstacle Course Races, and the Iron Warrior Dash. Andrew and Eston compete in the elite waves, and Eston has placed as high as 7th in a Spartan Race and is still striving toward the podium.

An average day for the Jones family includes jobs for Mom and Dad and home-schooling the kids, with one exception: P.E. time is anything but average. The afternoon begins normally enough, then around 3 PM daily, the fun starts. Usually, an afternoon workout for the family consists of 1-1/2 to 2 hours of non-traditional strength training using routines the family has developed and tailored over the past 5 years. Exercises with names like the “body mauler” and “Bubkas” are used to build core, leg, and upper body strength. The heart of the workouts focuses on developing stamina needed for obstacle racing.

But it doesn’t end there. For over one year now, the Joneses have been conducting a boot camp…free for anyone who is willing to show up and take on the challenge. A grueling mix of circuit training keeps boot campers moving. From a simulated obstacle race including an 8 foot wall, 15 foot climbing ropes, and a traverse rope strung between two perfectly spaced trees outside their home, the 25+ obstacles on this 3/4 mile “track circuit” will challenge even the seasoned veteran…but it’s the newcomers who keep them going. Since they started the boot camp, over 100 people have passed through, and there are usually 25+ in attendance on any given Tuesday or Thursday night. The mix includes competitive obstacle racers and newbies who have never run a race. You’ll see fathers, sons, husbands, wives, old, and young at the boot camps – usually multiple members of the same families. People are being inspired to change their lives. They’re showing up, and then signing up for a Spartan race they never dreamed of doing until they see that everyone started just like they did – with a few burpees and a lot of determination. The obstacle race style training is just plain fun for everyone – just look at any child on a playground, and you’ll see “it’s the way we we’re intended to move”.

Andrew and Eston 5 years ago and then in December 2012

A neighbor even built a Spartan-style traverse wall in his garage to add to the fun. As boot campers come to the halfway point in the “track circuit” as it is affectionately known, they divert from the track and head into “David’s garage” to tackle the Spartan-style obstacle. Other circuits include tire flipping, low crawls, a tire drag (with my 6 year old riding in the tire, at no extra charge!), sledge hammers, and a particularly punishing workout appropriately dubbed “El Diablo” – the only way to describe it is “lots of core work”, and lots of soreness the day after, especially for first-timers. The boot camp happens twice a week every week, rain or shine…people learn about it through word-of mouth, Facebook posts, and the quirky but interesting videos posted on the “Unbreakable Joneses” YouTube channel.

Oh, and did I mention the boot camp is not a substitute for their daily workout – its extra family fun. On the non-circuit days, their normal workout is typically followed by a 5-7 mile trail run in the state forest conveniently located behind their home!

In the end, though, it’s about more than the fitness and competition. This is the way the family spends time together. The fitness is a side effect of a strong bond and family togetherness. So, if you think you don’t have time to work out, or spend time with your family, maybe it’s time to re-prioritize. Maybe it’s time to try a Spartan Race…just get off the couch and do it. You’ll be glad you did. And if you need an example of how it’s done, look no further than the Joneses. Whether it’s training, racing, skateboarding, wave riding, playing paintball, or helping others to achieve their fitness goals, the Jones family is “Unbreakable”.

Follow the Joneses on their Facebook page.  Click HERE. 

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