(photo courtesy: gudphoto.com)


The name Avishek Sengupta might not mean anything to you. Last week, Sengupta, 28, participated in "The Tough Mudder," one of the most extreme endurance and strength races known to man.

Sengupta, after jumping in the "Walk the Plank" obstacle, a pool of cold mud, failed to resurface. He passed away, having been taken off life support last Sunday. One of my friends participated in the race, which was held in West Virginia. My friend said conditions were miserable: windy and near freezing with the wind chill.

At the conclusion of the race, participants were given a complimentary beer. Many people, including my friend, were so chilled to the bone that they couldn't even grip the beer. 

Why anybody would want to torture themselves in this kind of obstacle course--and pay $150 to do so--is beyond me. 

Sengupta's death is tragic and hopeully a wake-up call to Tough Mudder organizers and events like its kind. The tragedy is representative of a big fitness trend in America: military-style workouts designed to completely exhaust you. Crossfit and boot camps are two examples. 

I live a short walk from a Crossfit and see people doing ridiculous drills such as fireman carrying someone down the street. The person carrying their friend or partner has posture that looks like a question mark. That can't be good for the body. In fact, one of the services I offer as a holistic health coach is bodywork therapy. No fewer than half a dozen clients I've worked on have told me they have been injured by Crossfit workouts, which typically require you to do as many repetitions in a certain amount of time, of a certain movement, usually Olympic-style lifts. 

The problem with this is that the exercises are meant to be executed with few repetitions. When I walk by the Crossfit gym, I see people with poor form doing Clean and Jerks with rounded backs. Even if someone has good form doing it, your joints may eventually start breaking down. In my opinion, you're better off doing slow and controlled reps, and fewer of them. 

I believe in a middle path approach to fitness. Most Americans are stressed enough as it is. Extreme workouts only add to system-wide stress. While you may get in better shape doing boot camp style workouts, if you already have hormonal imbalances as many people do, due to adrenal stress, extreme workouts require release of even more cortisol, the stress hormone. 

When and why did exercise have to be a Type-A give it your all effort. Whatever happened to doing activities you enjoy? Whatever happened to a sane approach to fitness? Tough Mudder races and many boot-camp style workouts are insane. 

Paying $150 to dive in a mud pit is insane. The insanity cost someone their life. How many others will have heart attacks doing this foolish kind of workout, trying to keep up with the Joneses, and thinking that only these type of workouts get you in good shape. 

Run up and down a flight of stairs 10 times and do a set of push-ups in between. Do that every day, and trust me, you'll get in great shape and won't stress your body out doing it. 

Of course this is just my opinion, but I predict I'll see even more bodywork clients with extreme workout injuries. So, actually, people, keep doing these extreme workouts...it's been good for my bodywork therapy business.

R.I.P. Avishek....it's a shame you felt compelled to join your friends in this idiotic race. Hopefully, your loss will not be in vain. Maybe somebody will read this and think twice about doing the Tough Mudder. 


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