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In front of his custom-designed obstacle course in the iCore Fitness center in West Goshen, owner and operator Mark Falcone talks about the idea behind the original facility. Rick Kauffman — 21st Century Media
WEST GOSHEN >> Enter the doors of iCore Fitness and immediately it’s apparent this is no ordinary gym.
Besides the tractor tires, the zip line, the jumping pillow and the Olympic trampolines and foam pit stands an enormous replica of the American Ninja Warrior obstacle course, just waiting for anyone wanting to take on the challenge.
The 10,000-square-feet multi-faceted, all-encompassing extreme obstacle training facility was designed and produced by 2006 Delaware County Christian School graduate Mark Falcone.
“No one’s ever done this before,” he explained. “We’re kind of blazing our own trail. It’s the new movement. We want to brand the new way to get fit.”
About three years ago, Falcone was working for a geothermal systems installation company.
“I didn’t like what I was doing,” he said. “I was digging holes for a living. I knew I wanted to do something I love to do, something I am passionate about.”
At the same time, he began competing in elite Spartan Races, which include various obstacles throughout the course.
People would ask him where they could prepare for them.
“You can’t really go to a typical gym to do that,” he said. “There’s really nothing around here that has the right tools to train with those obstacles.”
He realized there was a need to do a different style of fitness so people could train for such events.
“I spent two years going through hell to make it happen,” Falcone said. “Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”
It took six months just to find a location.
“Finding the right location was terrible,” he said. “Trying to find a 10,000-square-feet warehouse with 25-feet ceilings in 19380 zip code with parking in a decent location is pretty difficult.”
Securing insurance took another six months.
“Again, this hasn’t been done before,” Falcone said, adding that combining a zip line with two rock climbing walls with trampolines and a foam pit was perplexing for insurers to label.
That didn’t even address the Ninja Warrior obstacle course.
“Nobody really understands until they see the actual thing,” Falcone said. “We have the first straight-line metal-fabricated Ninja Warrior course in the country.”
The mechanism looks like its counterpart on the television show, American Ninja Warrior. Yet, Kyle Curran, iCore’s general manager and trainer, said they designed the dimensions of their course to be tougher than the show’s.
For example, the salmon ladder, on which a person hangs from a pole suspended by two joints and then uses their body force to move the ladder up to another pair of joints, has six or seven pairs of joints, whereas the show has five.
The cliffhanger, which resembles a suspended rectangle with protrusions that a person uses to get from one side to the other, is 1/8 inch thinner than that on the show and the warped wall, which is a concave structure that a person runs and climbs to reach the top, is 3 inches taller than the one on American Ninja Warrior.
“I designed this so that everything’s interchangeable,” Falcone said. “We can take something out and put a new obstacle in. (We) keep it fresh.”
It also energizes those looking for an intense exercise session.
“We make our classes much more high intense than the actual race so that the transition is ultra-smooth,” Curran said.
Falcone added, “We haven’t found a gym that has a workout as tough as ours. Even elite athletes have struggled to get through them.
“At the same time,”he added, “everything’s scalable. We’ve had some people who’ve never done it before and they’ve gotten through our classes no problem.”
They also have classes for kids, called Mini Ninjas, and an 1,800-square-feet mezzanine for birthday parties, events or just viewing.
And while Falcone certainly wants people who visit his gym to have fun, he wants them to realize the breadth of their capabilities too by proving to themselves they can do more than they think.
“Coming here, someone who wants to train for a Tough Mudder and looks at the 8-foot wall and says, ‘Oh, I’ll never be able to get over that,’ when they finally do … it’s just like such a good feeling of overcoming that obstacle,” Falcone said.
Then, he said they can carry that awareness with them into other parts of their life.
“It gives you a new perspective,” he said of working out at iCore. “We want to not only change physically but also mentally the way people look at life. Our mantra is life’s full of obstacles. Overcoming those obstacles is how you have a full life.”
iCore Fitness (for Intensive Cardio through Obstacles to gain Results and Endurance) is located at 300 Lawrence Drive, Suite C in West Goshen. It also can be seen at icorefitness.com.