DEKA events are functional fitness competitions put on by Spartan. They are an indoor decathlon of functional fitness and training programs designed to be basic, simple, and utilitarian. And in true Spartan spirit, the focus of these events is to train with a purpose — to multiply member motivation, individual performance, and a sense of connection to the community. Sounds great, right? But what’s the difference between DEKA and OCR? What kind of athletes should sign up? Can YOU really do DEKA? (Spoiler: Yes, you can.)
For all of the questions you probably have, here are five simple answers that will have you wondering why you’ve never signed up for a DEKA FIT event before.
1. It’s for Everyone (Yes, That Means You, Too.)
The ultimate Spartan mission is to rip as many people off the couch as possible and get them training; tuned in to their nutrition, mind, and body; and competing in events. There are countless people who have found purpose in their lives by getting down and dirty and braving the elements at outdoor races, hacking it for hours on end in intense heat, relentless rain, and mud — lots of mud.
But the reality is, the mud and the barbed wire aren’t for everyone. So if you find yourself searching for that sense of selfless community, a reason to put in the work, or a way to build grit and perseverance — but you just can’t seem to get down with the whole dirt and heat thing — that’s where DEKA comes in. With diverse programming for the masses — every event has close to a 100 percent completion rate — these indoor events are designed so that the toughest of the tough (but also the beginners) can test what they’re made of in the same arena. All they have to do is show up.
It’s you against yourself. This is your time to gamify your fitness and prove to yourself that you can push past your limits. Even if you struggle with quieting that voice in your head that tells you to quit, getting to the starting line is your biggest battle. Once you’re in the DEKA Arena and you're surrounded by people just like you who have struggled, bled, sweated, and cried just like you to get there; once you hear your Spartan staff spotter counting your reps close to completion; once you feel your blood pumping as you grind out your last few meters, wall-overs, or burpees … then you’ll understand the euphoria that accompanies being “DEKA Done.” And you’ll be unstoppable.
2. DEKA FIT Is Not the Same as DEKA STRONG or DEKA MILE
Distinguishing between FIT, STRONG, and MILE might — understandably — mean nothing to you if you’re still confused about what DEKA is in the first place. So let’s break it down. Imagine DEKA as the umbrella term — the “OCR” behind a Sprint, Super, or Beast — for the decathlon of functional fitness. FIT, STRONG, and MILE, then, are simply the event subsets of the overall brand.
DEKA STRONG is a fitness-testing assessment and event designed specifically for gyms and studios, featuring the brand’s signature 10 DEKA Zones and NO running. If you’re training for explosive power but you just can’t stomach a foot race — or if pure, uninterrupted functional training is just more up your alley — STRONG is the perfect test. You can sign up for a STRONG event at DEKA-affiliated gyms across the country.
DEKA MILE is a fitness challenge featuring the same signature zones with a total of one mile of running, and DEKA FIT — the Super Bowl of Fitness — will kick the distance up a notch.
Get Your DEKA Mark. Then Get Your DEKA Trifecta.
Depending on your goals, one event might strike your fancy more than the others. But if you’re like Joy King, you might turn out to be a jack of all trades. King had competed in a DEKA STRONG at her gym, The Compound, in Macon, Georgia, and said she was instantly hooked. So when the 2021 DEKA FIT event in Atlanta rolled around, she did what any true Spartan would do. She signed up twice.
“I was feeling extra ambitious when I signed up for two DEKA FIT events in the same day,” she said. “I was still riding the high I had from the DEKA STRONG event, so I asked myself, ‘Why not?’ I wanted to give it all that I had that day, and I walked away feeling like I did exactly that. It fueled my desire to continue to pursue the Jacksonville DEKA Trifecta.”
That’s right. Just like with OCR, participating in all three of the DEKA events within one calendar year will earn you the coveted Trifecta title. So what are you waiting for?
3. You’ll Run a 5K (But Not All at Once)
Because DEKA is a Spartan event, you probably have one of two misconceptions: that DEKA is a type of OCR, or that the event will be purely functional fitness movements. But in reality, DEKA FIT is sort of like a combination of both — and neither — all at once. Like OCR, you’ll have the larger contest as a whole broken up into different challenge areas. Except in DEKA, the challenges are not obstacles. They’re different zones of functional fitness. But that’s not all — and this is where some people get confused. You WILL be running.
Each DEKA FIT event begins with a 500-meter run, and between every zone you’ll complete the 500-meter loop, which usually outlines the other zones and the festival as a whole, taking you past a great view and a ton of fellow Spartans waiting to cheer you on. All in all, you’ll clock in 10 of those 500-meter runs, adding up to a 5K.
4. The 10 DEKA Zones Are Always the Same
Spartan training has always been designed to be as functional as possible, indicative of the kinds of stresses and challenges your body will face when you’re competing in Spartan-run events (and doing daily, everyday tasks). So the 10 DEKA Zones are designed to do just that. And the good news is, if you’re training for one DEKA event, you’re training for all the rest. The following zones are the 10 challenge areas you’ll face at any event, whether it’s STRONG, MILE, or FIT.
Zone #1: 30 RAM Alt Reverse Lunge
Zone #2: 500-Meter Row
Zone #3: 20 Box Jump Step Over/Jump Overs
Zone #4: 25 Med Ball Sit-Up Throws
Zone #5: 500-Meter Ski Erg
Zone #6: 100-Meter Farmer's Carry
Zone #7: 25-Calorie Air Bike
Zone #8: 20 Dead Ball Wall-Overs
Zone #9: 100-Meter Tank Push/Pull
Zone #10: 20 RAM Burpees
5. There Are Different Weights for Men and Women
If hearing that the DEKA Arena is designed for the best of the best AND beginners alike has you wondering if you’ll be hauling the same weight as world-class weightlifters, that’s pretty much the idea. But don’t worry: For the zones that require lifting, pushing, pulling, or otherwise moving a set amount of weight, there are separate designated loads for men and women. Your designated weight will be clearly dictated by your spotter, and most of the weighted equipment will also be clearly marked and — in the case of RAMs — color-coded, so you can just grab and go.
Six of the 10 zones have weight variations by gender, and here are the differences:
Zone #1: 30 RAM Alt Reverse Lunge: Women use the 33-pound RAM and men use the 55-pound RAM.
Zone #4: 25 Med Ball Sit-Up Throws: Women use a 14-pound ball and men use a 20-pound ball.
Zone #6: 100-Meter Farmer's Carry: Women carry two 40-pound dumbbells and men carry two 60-pound dumbbells.
Zone #8: 20 Dead Ball Wall-Overs: Women use a 40-pound ball and men use a 60-pound ball.
Zone #9: 100-Meter Tank Push/Pull: Women use the Level Two setting and men use Level Three. The settings will already be in place for you, and tanks with different weights are separated on either the left or right side of the zone to avoid confusion.
Zone #10: 20 RAM Burpees: Women use the 22-pound RAM and men use the 44-pound RAM.