Finding Empowerment in OCR


You’ve noticed the global phenomenon known simply as OCR (Obstacle Course Racing) is starting to catch on with college students, and you see an opportunity to reach this ever-growing crowd of athletes. However, you may feel like you’re encountering some obstacles of your own when trying to empower this group that thrives from completing obstacles that test their athleticism, toughness and determination.

The good news is a few simple changes can help your campus become part of one of the fastest growing recreational and professional sports in the world. These races happen just about every weekend, with tens of thousands of participants digging deep to reach their fullest potential. In 2016 more than 5 million people participated in OCR in the United States, and many of these racers are college students. The college age demographic, 20 to 24-year-olds is growing, with the prime age for OCR racers being early 20s. Your campus can be a place that encourages students to be part of this phenomenon and builds strong competitors. By providing obstacle course specific equipment and training to help students prepare for the courses and all their challenges, you can help grow this group of racers.

OCR athletes encounter various obstacles on the course that can be improved with specific equipment to help them reach their potential. Grip strength, cardiovascular endurance, heavy carries and core strength are all required for success on the course. Adding specific equipment to accompany functional training pieces is a great way to help OCR athletes train. With simple additions like sandbags, flip obstacle equipment, buckets, ropes, pull-up bars/racks, plyo boxes, sledge hammers, slam balls, medicine balls, loops and bands, kettlebells, and dumbbells, you can transform an underutilized spot in your fitness center into a place for fun and unique training.

Here are some ideas to cater to these athletes and create excitement around OCR on your campus.

1. Add OCR specific equipment like those mentioned above to your fitness centers.

2. Create an inviting space in your fitness center specific to OCR. Place all the OCR equipment together and add some fun OCR signage. Maybe even add a TV screen to loop OCR races for extra motivation.

3. Add an OCR training class to your group fitness schedule. Odds have it, there are students who would like to try OCR. OCR participants also thrive from the camaraderie they feel with other racers, and this physical and emotional support is a catalyst to get them through the obstacles on the course.

4. Offer OCR coaching. This is a great way to reach those OCR athletes that want to take their racing to the next level.

5. Find a race near campus – or even host your own – and create a group to encourage students to train and compete together. As mentioned before, camaraderie is key with OCR.

Now that you realize just how easy it is to reach the OCR athletes on your campus, don’t get left standing on the starting line. Just by adding specific equipment, you can empower current OCR athletes and empower new obstacle loving athletes. And your campus can be among the first to encourage this prime age group to get out there and reach their potential.


By Elisabeth Fouts. She is Power Systems’ education and trade show coordinator, and a 10-year veteran in the fitness industry. She has a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, is certified in and actively teaches four Les Mills group fitness programs, and serves as a PowerWave Senior Coach. When Elisabeth isn’t teaching Group X classes, you can find her training for or participating in an obstacle course race, or watching the Tennessee Volunteers or Dallas Cowboys. For more information, visit

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