What Is Spartan?

Presented by Spartan Training®

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Spartan is a lifestyle company. That doesn’t make us unique. There are plenty of lifestyle companies in the world, and all stand for something different.

What sets the Spartan lifestyle apart from others is its authenticity. It's far more than just a "mud run."

It wasn’t created by branding professionals around a conference table. It was forged from grit around kitchen tables after long morning hikes carrying rocks up mountains. It also cuts deep, redefining how we train, eat, and think. It’s not a lean-back experience; it’s deep and meaningful and active, requiring you to push harder. It asks you to make sacrifices, to give to others, to be a good steward of the world.

The investment is large, and the payoff transformational. The Spartan lifestyle improves, even saves, lives every day. We help you find yourself, and unlock potential you didn’t know you had within.

There are no shortcuts with the Spartan lifestyle. It’s not particularly innovative. In fact, it’s really hard, which makes it a tough sell. So instead we choose ruthless honesty: This will be damn difficult. This will be damn worth it.

We want you to come with us. We want you to live your best life possible. Behind everything we do is a desire to impart a philosophy that has made millions of humans healthier and happier. We arrived at this place after a long philosophical journey. Are you ready to join us?

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The Origins of Spartan

It all started in the mountains of Vermont, when company founder Joe De Sena and his small circle of likeminded Spartans-to-be noticed that humans weren’t doing well in the modern world. They were overweight, immobile, inflexible, injury-prone, and unable to smoothly navigate the physical world.

The fitness “experts” were more focused on quick fixes than hard-won improvements. Abs in minutes, they promised. Crazy infomercials hawking crazy contraptions guaranteed a new body by tomorrow. The message was clear: You can buy results. It wasn’t true—none of it. You have to put in the work.

The so-called nutritionists were no better. There seemed to be a new diet every day. People clung to every –ism to come along with the enthusiasm of a religious zealot—until the next one materialized, of course.

We were treating our bodies like garbage, so they returned the favor. People were depressed and anxious, unable to function in our increasingly complex psychological world. Technology was quickly becoming a tool of imprisonment rather than liberation, a decline that accelerated quickly when the first smartphones and social media platforms hit the scene. Suddenly, we spent most of our days staring at pixilated representations of others instead of interacting in the flesh. We could instantaneously connect to anyone in the world, and yet we were never more alone.

Even the fittest and most well-meaning of us, the athletes, were being duped into hurting themselves. They pushed in a linear direction—running, biking, and swimming faster and farther, and in the process becoming more one-dimensional and fragile. Ironmen, who represented the pinnacle of fitness, were prone to overtraining and overuse injuries because the entire affair was overly specialized.

In short, we were a distant cry from our forebears, who were at home in nature and had the strength, athleticism, and endurance needed to hunt, gather, and build civilizations. Things needed to change.

The Rise of Spartan

Pittsfield, Vermont, is rather isolated. Try to throw a dart at the center of Vermont and, unbeknownst to you, you’re aiming at Pittsfield. It lives in the heart of a valley, much like ancient Sparta. To get there from New York or Boston you need to climb over steep mountains—notably Killington to the south—and enter through a pass.

It’s not flat. Locals used to say that Pittsfield was the land of one-legged milking stools, because you were always working on steep hillsides. It’s not the elevation that gets you; it’s the pitch. Killington is 4,236 feet above sea level, but Pittsfield sits at only 800 feet. If this sounds like child’s play compared to the Rockies, lace up your boots and hit the trail. You’ll feel the elevation change with every step.

Fifteen years ago, it was the perfect gathering place for eccentric athletes who were tired of doing fitness in the contemporary fashion. They needed a place to get wild. Really wild.

This was nothing like the typical startup mud run operation. All we had were a barn and some mountains. We leaned on them heavily.

We started by thinking about basics. How should one eat? How should one exercise? How should one think? What does it mean to be fit, healthy, and happy?

We examined these things to make stronger, healthier, and happier humans. It started as a philosophical pursuit, not a fitness fad. Soon, some profound answers began to emerge.

How Spartans Eat

Food comes from somewhere. It’s important to know where. We decided to grow our own food—on the mountain in the summer, in the barn’s greenhouse during the winter. We wanted to get food as natural and clean as possible. We also wanted to understand the deeply spiritual process of creating the food that nourishes our bodies.

Eventually, we created the five tenets of Spartan nutrition:

  1. Avoid processed foods. These foods have less nutritional value, cost more, and put a lot of unwanted chemicals in your body.
  2. Eat nothing sometimes. Evidence suggests that an occasional fast—say, 16 to 24 hours—is good for you.
  3. Eat whole foods. Especially vegetables and some fruits. Whole foods are the new name for ingredients that haven’t undergone industrial processing.
  4. Eat only when you’re hungry. Your body knows when to eat. Just listen.
  5. Adapt. Humans are opportunistic omnivores; they are adapted to eat any natural food. Be flexible.

How Spartans Train

There’s no better training facility than a mountain. We spent a lot of time hiking, mud running, snowshoeing, often days at a stretch. Yes, we got fit. More importantly, we improved how our bodies functioned.

Spartan training is a no-nonsense, back-to-basics approach designed to build better humans. That means constant challenge and constant improvement. It means making a habit of breaking habits, getting outdoors, and committing to goals you’re not 100 percent sure you can achieve.

To train like a Spartan, you don’t need expensive equipment or even a building. All you need is your body, your environment, and your will to push harder Here are the seven pillars:

  1. Endurance. Sustained effort over long time periods or distances.
  2. Strength. The muscular capacity to move the body and heavy objects.
  3. Athleticism. Skill-based movements that require balance, flexibility, and coordination.
  4. Recovery. Strategic rest between periods of work.
  5. Nutrition. Choosing the right fuel for work.
  6. Mindset. Instilling an attitude and knowledge base that helps you to overcome adversity.
  7. Code. Striving to live a good life in relation to yourself and others.

How Spartans Think

You can think in a barn and on a mountain too. Actually, you can think anywhere. It’s free to everyone, no matter their previous experience with OCR/mud runs, race, religion, national origin, age, gender, economic status, or sexual orientation.

Spartans think by asking questions and seeking answers. Often, the root to discovery comes from the questions more so than the answers, especially if the latter come from suspect authorities. Thus, Spartans spend a lot of time questioning assumptions.

Here are the two most important things we learned during those years in Vermont:

  1. Busting your ass is always worth it.
  2. Simply changing your attitude can transform your life.

You can be the person you want to be. All you need to do is commit to getting uncomfortable (sore, tired, sometimes covered in mud) every day, because the path you must walk will sometimes seem precarious.

One of the oldest philosophical aphorisms of Ancient Greece is “know thyself.” This is what the eating, training, and thinking are for: the realization of your best self. No brand, not even Spartan, can sell you this. You have to find it within yourself.

So that is what it means to be a Spartan. That is why diverse people from around the world, despite their differences, embrace the lifestyle. They’re all facing unique obstacles. They’re all living outside their comfort zones. They’re all searching for something special inside.

We know the way we eat and train isn’t easy. We are tougher than other "mud runs" out there. How we face that challenge is what makes Spartans. We see every obstacle as an opportunity. Difficulty makes us smile. That precarious path ahead … trust us, it’s brutally inconvenient. That’s what makes it worth taking.

Let us be clear: You can do this. Anyone can, as long as they have the right mindset. You’ve got to commit and push harder.

Our question for you: Are you in?

Start your journey on the Spartan lifestyle. Download our Bodyweight Workout Plan.