Kick Mo’s Butt: HIT Athletic + Yancy Culp and DEKA STRONG

By Monica Brant – June 1, 2021
Brian Fitzsimmons.

Is it ironic, coincidental, interesting or only destiny that I reunited with Master Coach and Elite Spartan racer, Yancy Culp, and completed my first DEKA STRONG experience for this month’s Kick Mo’s Butt workout — 10 years after having Yancy kick my butt in our first KMB back in 2011? 

Much like how Yancy handles all of his business, he studies and researches his victims — I mean clients — and works out objectives. During the KMB session in 2011, he kicked my butt with battle ropes and outdoor training circuits. During our session, he also piqued my interest in competitive track, because he knew (from his research) that I was a “trackie” back in high school, and over the 20+ years as a professional fitness athlete was incorporating sprints as a means of training. This is a completely different (and awesome) story to share another time.

Of course, after our 2011 KMB session, I was hooked on Yancy’s energy and passion. 

Just as he does with most people, Yancy became a friend and mentor for my competitive USATF (USA Track & Field) Masters Track, Spartan races and Ninja Warrior training. Over the last 10 years, post-Yancy-introduction, I have made many new friends, competed in races I never knew existed and found new strengths and talents I did not know I had available inside! As you can read, Yancy holds an incredibly special place in my life.

Now, back to the current KMB recap.  

Upon arrival at HIT Athletic (where Yancy has launched DEKA), I had no idea the facility was 25,000 square feet and could deliver so much in the terms of strength, endurance, speed/agility and flexibility training. 

Side note for all you moms (and dads): they offer a fully equipped childcare center, baseball training facility and youth programs to fit you and your children’s needs — so you and your family can hit the ground running as soon as you walk in the door. I was seriously blown away by this location and would love to train here if I lived in Austin again. 

Now, mind you, I knew going into this session how Yancy works and what type of athlete he expects from me, so I was focused on making sure I didn’t let him down. 

After completing a quick IG story, Yancy met me at the door with his typical, larger-than-life smile, and his positive energy was already radiating to me and my 18-year-old goddaughter, Daisa, who came to train with me for the session. If anyone knows Yancy, they know what his energy is like no matter what he is walking through, and he always focuses on the other people around him. 

To start off the session, all three of us enjoyed a shot of BeetElite (by HumanN). Yancy walked us through the DEKA STRONG series while explaining why it was created and for whom it was created. 

Since Yancy is the Spartan DEKA program director, he knew this event better than anyone and spoke on the need-to-know aspects prior to starting.

As the name implies, DEKA STRONG is a 10-exercise (or obstacle, depending on how you look at it) fitness test that 98% of humans over the age of 15 can perform, and it does not include any running. The exercises are meant to be basic and based on time. This is such a great concept because it allows more individuals to compete not only against others, but more importantly, against themselves. 

Here is the layout of exercises: 

Zone 1: 30 RAM (33lbs) alternating reverse lunges
Zone 2: 500m rowing
Zone 3: 20 box jump over/step over
Zone 4: 25 medicine ball sit up
Zone 5: 500m ski erg
Zone 6: 100m farmers carry
Zone 7: 25C air bike
Zone 8: 20 dead ball shoulder over
Zone 9: 100m tank push-pull
Zone 10: 20 RAM (22lbs) burpee

Without a doubt, this series tested me physically and mentally. At one point, I believe I had that stupid inner voice asking me why I was doing this and telling me I could quit … it is the same sneaky voice that speaks quietly in my ear right around the 225-meter mark of a 400-meter race and, as usual, I told it to “Shut up and move on,” because I had WORK to do!

It’s funny how we have these conversations that take up valuable time and energy while we are working hard at something — assuming I am not alone with these voices. 

To make a long story shorter, Yancy cheered and coached me and Daisa throughout the entire length. His energy never lessened, and he cheered for every stride taken — even the smallest ones. 

As an athlete, I have learned to pace myself during races/events, and this was no different. I was not exactly sure how I would feel and, since my training is not as vigorous as it used to be, I felt it important to be safe and try not to overexert myself too much. 

Once the timer started, I focused solely on each exercise and made sure to perform the reps accurately since they were specific.  All 10 stations were notable, but here are the ones that stood out to me.

Zone 5: 500m SkiErg – There is a technique to this that would help if learned and practiced, and if this machine is not available to train on, it would be great to hear from Yancy about an alternative for training purposes.

Zone 6: 100m farmer’s carry – This one was tough. For females, a 40-pound KB in each hand is a lot to carry if you have no prior experience or not training for it. However, Yancy was complimentary on the fact that I made it without setting the KBs down once!

This was challenging to say the least and, apparently, all the hand-grip training done in my past has not left me completely.

Zone 7: 25C air bike – This one is tough, and I do not enjoy training on bikes, so this zone was one I had to work out mentally.

Zone 9: 100m tank push-pull – This zone was super fun for me because I love using my glutes and, if done correctly, you can get terrific work from these movements.

Zone 10: 20 RAM burpee – Does anyone like burpees, really? And then to add the weighted (22lbs) Spartan RAM to it? And at the end? Great concept!

To conclude, this was a perfect way to celebrate my friendship with this superhuman friend of mine, Yancy Culp. And why not have the 10-year reunion match the original introduction through Austin Fit Magazine, and specifically, a KMB feature? I can not wait to see what we will be doing in another 10 years!  

In the meantime… 

Should you want more details on DEKA (Fit, Mile or Strong) and see if it is for you (which it is!), visit

My time for this DEKA STRONG workout (which I would love to improve) was 23:12, and my goddaughter’s time 31.27. As the terminator said once, “I’ll be back!”


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