by Josh Strakos
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.
“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”.
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.