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An In-depth Interview with the Publicity Ambassador of the Spartan Race 2020 in China, Damon Zuo: Spartan Race and CrossFit Are Booming

By Yutang Sports 27 Aug 2020

From August 21 through August 23, the first stage of Spartan Race 2020 in China Mainland landed in Chongli, where more than 10,000 enthusiasts worldwide participated in the game, according to the live report of Yutang Sports. The competition among warriors covers seven colors of medals and nine events, including Spartan Sprint, Spartan Super, Spartan Sprint, Spartan Ultra Beast, Spartan Obstacles (10 KM/21 KM), Hurricane Heat (4H/12H) and Spartan Kids Race.

As the official Publicity Ambassador of the Spartan Race 2020, authorized SGX trainer, and the founder of Beijing ZOYO CrossFit, Mr. Damon Zuo participated in the 12H Hurricane Heat, Spartan Sprint and Spartan Super, together with his team ZOYO. During the interval of the race, the reporter of Yutang Sports conducts an exclusive interview with the spartan.

As an experienced and professional CrossFit coach in China, Damon has been leading the team to compete in the Spartan Race as soon as the game landed in China Mainland in 2016. Throughout the years, He has kept following the games and enlarging the team ZOYO. Up to know, Damon has become the Publicity Ambassador of the Spartan Race 2020. During the interview, he shares his thoughts with Yutang Sports, from the standpoint of a professional, expressing his reflections about Spartan Race and CrossFit, as well as strong confidence towards the future of the game in China.

Yutang Sports: As a sports and fitness enthusiast, for what reason have you been following the Spartan Race since it landed in China Mainland in 2016?

Damon: Personally, I am specialized in CrossFit, which requires my team to spend more time exercising in CrossFit venues. Thus, it becomes necessary for us to test the training quality through some comprehensive events, such as the Spartan Race. At first glance, I felt like, Oh, the race was really cool (Laughing)! In fact, there are great similarities between Spartan Race and CrossFit. The aim of doing CrossFit is to break through the limit of somatic functions, while the Spartan Race also contains running, obstacles, carrying heavy objects and other challenges that require you to possess basic capabilities in endurance, strength, balance and agility. I could feel the interestingness when I participated in the game for the first time. With eyes on the future, I would like to help more enthusiasts form good habits, breakthrough obstacles and stimulate their potentials through the Spartan Race and CrossFit training.

Yutang Sports: Throughout your participation over the years, how does the Spartan Race change your physical and mental conditions?

Damon: What the Spartan Race has impressed me most is the abundant cultural connotations hidden behind the game. During the race, what stops you from overcoming obstacles is not the obstacles themselves, just like the Rope Climb and the Monkey Bar, but the fear itself from your own heart. There are many circumstances when we are facing challenges that we would chronically feel that, “Oh, I’ve never tried this project before, I cannot make it.” Thus, the biggest challenge for most of the amateurs would be taking the first step. And it is the Spartan Race, through the form of sport events, that encourages everyone to take the first step without fear and to convince themselves that “I can make it”.

Yutang Sports: As the official Publicity Ambassador of the Spartan Race 2020, how do you see the future of Spartan Race in Chinese market?

Damon: As the Ambassador of the Spartan Race 2020 and the authorized SGX trainer, My team and I are regularly organizing some training camps and holding relevant activities to promote the race. From my point of view, I sincerely hope the Spartan Race would have a bright future in China. For the moment, I would say that it is an unstoppable trend for the Spartan Race to spread in Chinese market. There were only about 10,000 participants in 2016, when the race had just come to China Mainland, since most of sports enthusiasts basically had no understandings about the game. From then on, however, the number of enthusiasts applying for the game has seen explosive growth. In the meantime, it was in 2017 that the Spartan Race introduced the Kids Race to China Mainland, motivating Chinese families to participate in the game and fully enjoy the family moments through sports. Thus, I am convinced that the Spartan Race, with its unique charm, would now encourage more and more families to jump out of the comfortable zone and to experience meaningful challenges that exist beyond daily life.

Yutang Sports: During the Covid-19 Pandemic, how do you adjust your fitness plan and keep your body condition at a great level?

Damon: I am now running my own BOX named ZOYO CrossFit. Located in Beijing, it is a top-level professional CrossFit venue in China. Various zones, including CrossFit training area, multifunction room, public recreation area, tearoom, and shower room, are set up for CrossFit enthusiasts. This is also the home of my team before the Covid-19. To be honest, not only did the Covid-19 Pandemic post challenges to my program, but also it had seriously affected the promotion of the Spartan Race, since most of the stages were cancelled or delayed. Thus, I would frequently communicate with the Organizing Committee and try to get through difficulties together. In detail, we have designed some free training courses online to encourage and supervise enthusiasts to keep exercising, which have now achieved satisfactory results, since everybody now are eager and ready for the game. As for my personal plan, considering that there are some space limitations when training at home, I prefer to do some outdoor running and weight training, with mask and full self-protection measures. And sometimes I would borrow portable dumbbell from the training center. For those who have a long-term habit to exercise regularly, the endorphin and dopamine secreted from the body would stimulate the excitement and force people to keep the habit. For instance, I would feel extremely uncomfortable, once terminating my fitness plan for more than one weeksince the hormone level during training are totally different from that of leisure time. In a nutshell, my body would lead me to enjoy the moment of training.

Yutang Sports: As the authorized SGX trainer, you are now providing participants with professional instructions. We see that there are always some amateurs every year competing in the Spartan Race. As a professional coach, do you have any suggestions on race preparation for those beginners?

Damon: Definitely. The aim of our promotion activities is to encourage more people, especially those beginners, to fully participate in the game. For those amateurs, or beginners, I don’t think they should be worried about the race at all. It is a normal phenomenon that they may not be so clear about the content of the race. Based on that, we have provided introductions on multiple channels for those who are new to the game. As far as I am concerned, I would suggest the beginners to start from Spartan Sprint, or the 5 KM running, which is as simple as an obstacle race. As long as participants acquire basic running skills, as well as intensify strength trainings, such as push-up, sit-up and Burpee, to possess basic capabilities of pushing and dragging, they would overcome obstacles and eliminate fears. Begun with bravery is half done. Furthermore, there is no limit of the permitted finishing time, since the Spartan Race would like to relieve the stress of participants and motivate everyone to spend full time challenging themselves.

Finally, I sincerely welcome all of those friends who are interested in the game and CrossFit to the Spartan family. For more detailed information about training and events, please follow the official WeChat Account @ SpartanRaceChina.

Having landed in China Mainland since 2016, the Spartan Race exists not only as a tailored stage for professional athletes but a positive channel for those who are willing to challenge themselves and enjoy leisure time. Participants from different occupations, either as senior executives or as industry elites, are thirsty for a substitute of busyness to enjoy the moment prepared by Spartan Race, to break through the hurdle and to challenge themselves. In the meantime, the creative designs of the Spartan Kids Race, with great enjoyment, has also become an optimal choice for parents. By combining athletics and entertainment, bridging sports and fashion, as well as co-sharing amusement with elites and amateurs, the Spartan Race, with its unique charm, is now becoming a new engine accelerating the promotion of “National fitness” campaign.

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