In Do Hard Shit, Spartan Master Coach Trevor Franklin attempts some of the hardest feats imaginable, all of which are complete surprises. You can watch the entire series now on Spartan's YouTube channel and on SpartanTV, and you can also watch them here.
What happens when you combine one Spartan Master Coach, a few secretly-booked flights, mystery itineraries, and a whole lot of insanely difficult shit?
In our new series, Do Hard Shit — presented by Mike's Hard Lemonade Seltzer — the team at Spartan is sending Spartan Master Coach Trevor Franklin across the country to complete six insanely difficult challenges of all kinds. The catch? The team books Trevor's flights for him, designs his entire itinerary, and leaves him completely in the dark about where, when, and what his next feat — from extreme endurance sports to thrill-seeking adventures to signature Spartan events — will be. Throughout each episode, Trevor receives handwritten notes that denote clues to the location, activity, and other crucial variables, such as time limit or goal.
Even with Trevor's intense training background and can-do attitude, each challenge is designed to push him past his breaking point and prove that with grit, determination, and resilience, he — and anyone who gives it a fair shot — CAN do hard shit.
"In my mind, it's being thrown into a really difficult situation and surrendering to the experience," Trevor said. "It's knowing that this is going to be painful and it's going to hurt, but it's going to happen. I'm going to get through it, I'm going to enjoy the process, and I'll be able to look back on this in however many years and be thankful that I got the opportunity."
To kick off the series, the team sent Trevor to Atlanta. Here's what went down.
Episode one kicked off with the accidental CC'ing of Trevor on a trip itinerary email beforehand, allowing him to deduce his probable fate a week early.
"The email had my flight details, but I still didn't really know what was going on," Trevor said. "But then the guy that actually CC'd me had his little email signature as DEKA FIT something, so I had a little bit of a heads up."
Off to a strong start.
Envelopes No. 1 and 2
As soon as Trevor arrived at his hotel just outside of Atlanta, he received two scavenger-hunt-style envelopes: 1 and 2. At exactly 4:10 p.m., Trevor opened his first clue:
"Atlanta Expo Center South, 5 p.m."
And then, the second clue:
"I didn't know what that meant," he said, knowing that in approximately 50 minutes, he would find out exactly what that meant.
A mini van transported the crew to the Atlanta Expo Center South, where — immediately after entering the DEKA FIT arena, a massive room dressed up with 10 functional fitness zones and a 500-meter run course — Trevor was greeted by Yancy Culp, DEKA Program Director, and Jarod Cogswell, DEKA Director of Sport and Education.
Despite the intimidating environment, the NYC trainer remained confident in his ability to crush it.
"DEKA kind of plays to my strong suits, to be honest," Trevor said. "I'm a decent runner, so I like that it's more running-dominant and not super heavy weights. It's all stuff that I can rely on my athletic background for. No big deal."
But it was about to become a big deal. After Yancy and Jarod probed Trevor to disclose his 5K PR — it's 19 minutes and 32 seconds — Clue 2 came back into play.
"You've got to beat 36 minutes tomorrow," Jarod and Yancy told him simultaneously.
For reference, any DEKA FIT event consists of a total of 5K of running. Athletes complete 10 functional fitness "zones" (including everything from reverse alternating RAMroller lunges to a farmer's carry to tank push/pulls), each preceded by 500 meters of running. If you discount the 19:32 of running, that left Trevor with just under 16 minutes and 30 seconds to complete all 10 zones.
Envelope No. 3
But that's not the final catch. Enter envelope 3:
"Indianapolis Colts, Number 59."
"And in walks Curt Maggitt!" Trevor said.
On top of Curt's outstanding career with the Colts, Trevor had watched (and been thoroughly impressed with) the former linebacker's performance at the Spartan Games. Ahead of the race, Jarod assumed the role of Trevor's mentor — his coach, his DEKA guru — and Yancy took on Curt's DEKA prep.
As each athlete began to size up their competition, neither Trevor nor Curt could say for sure who might have the upper hand. (Though Curt's 5K PR is 19:30, could he sustain that two-second lead between zones?)
"Man, Trevor's got a background, you know?" Curt said. "His ability to run may be very impressive. It's definitely going to be interesting."
Related: A 28-Day Spartan 5K Running Plan
Trevor, also known for his ability to make light of — and inject humor into — any shitty situation, felt slightly less confident about the matchup, vastly downplaying his own athletic background.
"I'm feeling pretty good, honestly," Trevor said. "But, you know, we've got an NFL athlete — like, apex predator type — and then I played J.V. basketball in high school, so ... we'll see."
The reality is, both Trevor and Curt are incredible athletes. So which Spartan (if either of them) had it in them to smash that 36-minute mark: the endurance-based runner, trainer, and Master Coach; or the 6-foot-3, 238-pound former linebacker who's built for this sort of strength training?
"It's going to come down to which one is willing to go deeper in the pain cave as we start approaching that Zone 8, 9, and 10," Yancy predicted.
Just after 5 a.m. the following morning, Trevor and Curt showed up on site for a brief walk-through of each zone to ensure that they were race ready and clear on all of the rules. Then, it was go time.
Almost immediately, Curt's strength allowed him to grab a sizable lead in every one of the early zones. But Trevor and Jarod had — in a series of late-night Instagram DMs the night before — planned for this. Endurance-focused Trevor planned to hang back early and snag a comeback on the run.
On Jarod's command, Trevor succeeded in passing Curt by entering Zone 5, the Ski Erg, in first place.
"It's like that primal instinct that we all have of fight or flight," Trevor said. "My goal was to go into the Farmer's Carry with a big lead because I figured he'd move a little bit quicker than me on that. At that point, I was feeling pretty good and I knew that I could maintain — or even increase — my speed for the remainder of the running."
The guys continued to battle it out, but by Zone 9 — the Tank Sled Push/Pull — Trevor led Curt by almost the entire five down-and-back, 10-meter tank trips.
"Mentally, for me, [the tank] was the toughest part," Trevor said. "Jarod noticed right away, and 'Own the f****** pain cave' is essentially what he told me ... I really wanted to beat that 36, and I was thinking, 'I might have three to four minutes of pain left, so let's just go to work.'"
One final 500-meter run and 20 RAM burpees later, Trevor crossed the finish line, immediately taking a seat on the ground and collecting his finisher tee and DEKA mark medal. Among the feelings of having earned new swag and completed a kickass workout before 7 a.m., the sweetest feeling of all for Trevor came from looking at the clock and seeing 35:29.
The Spartan Master Coach returned to Zone 10 to cheer his opponent over the finish line. After banging out 20 power-filled RAM burpees himself, Curt clocked in above the 36-minute mark — a testament to the absolute endurance necessary to speed through DEKA FIT.
"I really enjoyed this race," Trevor said. "I thought it was a really good balance of having the right amount of strength without having to be just brute strength, and obviously having the endurance and the cardio portion. I enjoyed it. I think Curt really enjoyed it."
With five more epic episodes still to follow, Trevor has a few hopes and guesses as to what the team will (and won't) impose upon him in the coming months.
"Selfishly, I think it'd be really cool to do some sort of Navy SEAL training," Trevor said. "But I'm just going to go into it with an open mindset. Honestly, the only thing that I'm deathly terrified of is if they drop me in the middle of the damn ocean and say, 'Swim with sharks.'"
Watch the full episode above, and stay tuned for episodes 2-6 of Do Hard Shit, coming soon.