Penn State

Orange-clad trio make all-day fitness challenge a tradition

Their day began at 8 a.m. with Pilates. Twelve classes, 13 hours and more than 4,000 calories burned later, the three men were still standing.

“Some co-workers asked us ‘Are you crazy?’ ” said one, laughing, sweat dripping from his orange shirt. “But it’s mostly support.”

What began as a bet last year has turned into a young, and — in the competitors’ cases — seemingly ageless tradition. Tyler Davis, 43, who works in IT for Penn State, challenged his co-worker John Ake to do an “all-dayer,” a schedule of Penn State Fitness classes from sun up until sundown. Their initial survival has turned into an exercise that’s part-madness, part-masochism and all good-natured, friendly competition.

“There will be a lot of Advil,” Ake, 51, said, smiling below his glasses.

This year, Ake got his son Mitch, a 22-year-old junior at Penn State, involved, and thus two became three. Halfway through the day’s gamut, they continued to push each other. They had just completed the “Total Muscle Challenge” class, a full-body workout replete with enough dips to liquefy limbs.

Just six more classes to go.

“It’s like a marathon,” John said. “The ‘Butts and Gutts’ just killed our hips.”

On Wednesday, the trio, their pates shining under the lights of a fitness room in Penn State’s White Building, looked liked athletic, grinning versions of the Blue Man Group. But their act was doused in orange from head to toe, with bright-colored T-shirts emblazoned with the hashtag “Can’t Wait” on their backs in honor of former NFL player Bart Scott.

And like the boisterous linebacker, they’re just as loud.

“We yell at each other,” Ake said. “It keeps us going.”

After each class, the three men got their shirts signed by the instructor. Below the day’s “Can’t Wait” motto, a numbered list documenting each class is written in permanent marker. A sweaty keepsake of a fitness goal achieved.

“My mom came and signed mine,” Mitch said, pointing to the “Sue” on his chest.

But cotton can only take so much punishment. The shirts got tossed in the on-site dryer after a particularly taxing session. The trio remained fueled by snacks provided by PSU Fitness, gallons of water and camaraderie.

According to the CDC, a 154-pound person doing a “vigorous” weight workout burns about 440 calories in a hour. Aerobics, meanwhile, burns about 480 calories a hour.

With the trio’s schedule, 12 classes spanning everything from full body workouts to the dance-infused “Power Remix,” the group’s favorite, a rough extrapolation is more than 4,000 calories burned. And since each weighs more than 154 pounds, that’s a low estimate.

But there’s another tradition they plan to uphold, one specifically designed to replenish the lost calories. As athletes — each says he’s the best one — they know how to refuel after a long, grueling day.

“At the end we go to Chipotle,” John said, laughing. “That’s how we finish.”

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy