As bodyweight specific exercise training methods such as "Cross fit" have become popular in recent years, Shepherdstown's own version of training has taken shape and gained popularity, referred to as the "Muddogs Training Corps."
The Muddogs have been in existence since the end of 2011, when Tara Lowe, together with her husband Tony, coordinated a group to begin training for the annual "Tough Mudder" competition, as well as other races in the area. Since then, the group has grown to include as many as 40 members looking for a fun, high energy, community oriented activity to participate in.
Mrs. Lowe has been involved with physical training and athletics for a long time. When asked what inspired her and her husband to establish the Muddogs Training Corps she said, "I had previously been in team sports and training for games and tournaments in Track and Volleyball in Junior High, High School and College. I missed the team spirit and tough weekly workouts. I have always been intrigued by personal fitness, health and longevity."
Lowe's background in exercise is a testament to this attitude, and she finds fulfillment in helping others. "My degree in Recreation and Sports Fitness Management and background in team sports is fulfilled by our group workouts and motivating individuals to change their lifestyles. Our mission is helping change lives one person at a time through movement, team encouragement and lifestyle change," she said.
The training sessions themselves are rigorous. Filled with many different exercises, each one looks to both physically and mentally challenge the competitor. At the first training session of the year, held at Morgan Grove Park, the Muddogs trained in tough conditions, battling both below freezing temperatures and wind.
During the session, Michael Chalmers, the head trainer, first put the group through a series of stretches as a warm up to the more demanding exercises. Once those were completed, the group then participated in relay activities and plyometrics, which consisted of various forms of pushups, sit-ups, and body squats. The focus of these is to place emphasis on both endurance and teamwork. These goals are conducive to the requirements for success in competitions such as the "Tough Mudder".
Chalmers finds great fulfillment in his role as the head trainer for the Muddogs, considering that fitness training is something he's been involved with for many years.
"I've been a fitness trainer for ten years. My journey started when I was at Shepherd University from 1993-1996, where I also played soccer and was athletically involved. The impetus of my desire to do this is my love of fitness and coaching."
"A communal activity like this resonates with people. Tony and Tara have done an excellent job of getting the word out, as the group is now about 40 members strong," he added.
The Muddog brand of training is not like the traditional weight training exercises. Described by Chalmers as a "hybrid" between Cross fit and MovNat, it combines core strength and conditioning with body weight exercises.
This new type of training is something that is safe, and can be utilized by people of all ages. According to Chalmers, it's different from traditional workouts in a gym setting. "It's not like going to a gym. You're not intimidated like you might be in a gym, and you're not training with a bunch of meatheads where everyone's scared to move, and everyone's on a treadmill," he said.
The type of unique training has become popular since the establishment of the group two years ago. According to Lowe, there are 30-40 committed members, with more becoming interested as word spreads throughout the area.
"We are planning on running in Tough Mudders, Freedom's Run 5 and 10 K's, 1/2 and Full Marathons, Warrior Dash, The Spartan, The Charge and more. Our group will continue to hold various training corps throughout 2013 as well," she said.
In addition, the group is sponsored by Morgan Academy, Sustainable Solutions, Shunney Construction, Two River Treads and YEP.
With the motto of, "making a healthy community, one family at a time" The Muddog Training Corps provides a way for people to stay physically fit, and have a blast while doing so.