From there, he’ll perform 50 burpees, which he considers the world’s most efficient exercise. The humble burpee, sort of a high intensity jumping jack and push-up, was named in the 1930s for American physiologist Royal H. Burpee. De Sena invokes his name frequently, although he’s not always complimentary.
Joe De Sena, who grew up in Queens, N.Y., has been an entrepreneur since his pre-teens. De Sena has done everything from selling fireworks at age eight, to starting a t-shirt business in high school, building a multimillion-dollar pool business in college, and creating a Wall Street trading firm. This next phase of his illustrious career centers on transforming the lives of an estimated one million obstacle racing enthusiasts who will participate in one or more of the 130 Reebok Spartan Races this year held in 17 countries.
His proudest moments are when he meets people face to face, communicates via Twitter, Facebook or email and they tell him how training for, and racing in, a Spartan Race has changed their entire outlook on life. One man lost 270 lbs. Couples have met their life partners in the mud of a Spartan obstacle race. Still others have overcome disease, physical disabilities, car accidents and the death of loved ones by challenging themselves at one of De Sena’s events.
Spartan Race drives competitors to their very limit to learn what they are capable of and sets a new frame of reference; one th ey can draw upon in the face of life’s harshest challenges. Competitors climb ropes, crawl under barbed wire, and jump over fire, as well as a host of other boot-camp-like maneuvers. Everyday disappointments and setbacks seem small when you’ve been to the other side of hell and made it back as a victor.
De Sena is a game changer, intensely passionate about making a difference when it comes to solving the crisis of childhood obesity and poor nutrition.
Personally, De Sena inspires by facing physical hardships few businessmen have ever endured. He has completed more than 50 ultramarathons (in conditions ranging from minus 30 degrees F. to 120 degrees), and 14 Ironman events, including the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, the 140.6 mile Lake Placid Ironman, and a 100-mile Vermont trail run – all in a single week.
De Sena resides in Vermont in a hundred-year-old farmhouse with his wife and four children. His goal is to one day see obstacle racing become an official Olympic sport. Our advice? Don’t bet against it.
Joe’s message of inspiration and personal transformation makes him a popular speaker for a variety of business groups, including Pepperidge Farms, the Association of Corporate Growth (twice), Florida Venture Forum, and the independent TedX BeaconStreet.
Come this May, hundreds of thousands around the world will be able to learn the Spartan Way through De Sena’s new book, SPARTAN UP! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; May 14, 2014; $24).
“The races, the book, the hundreds of emails I receive daily – that keeps us going every day, because it just feels like we're doing something much bigger than ourselves," De Sena says.