John Ake and Tyler Davis knew it was time to amp up their workout.
You could find the two on neighboring bikes at the IM Building most days. Ake already took yoga classes with his wife, but when he and Davis first found out about the Washboard Abs class offered at the White Building, they decided to give it a shot. As they slowly became aware of the variety of classes on the Penn State Fitness schedule, their exercise goals began to soar — until they reached maximum overload.
“Last year, we decided to get together and try to do a bunch of classes in one day and see if we could do it,” Ake said. “We combined what they had to offer with our goal to do as many classes in a day as we can.”
Ake, an IT Consultant, and Davis, an IT Support Specialist, are the creators of All Day Fitness, a 13-hour, 12-class challenge they first completed last March. Both graduated from Penn State, but the pair first met two years ago when Davis began a job at the same department Ake worked in for Penn State IT.
“I helped interview this guy. We really didn’t talk about it during the interview, but the day before he was hired, we saw each other at the IM Building and we were right next to each other,” Ake said. “The next day he asked me if I go to the gym often, and I told him I go all the time.”
Once they got acquainted, they started working out together daily. In 2016, they devised the idea for the annual day-long fitness challenge and decided to do it for fun. Davis even started a joint Twitter page for them to document their efforts.
— T and J (@onlyathletesjt) February 26, 2016
After completing last year’s challenge, Ake and Davis said they were most surprised by the table of food and drinks Penn State Fitness provided for them, the standing ovations from fellow class attendees, and the particular difficulty of a yoga class after a full day of exercise.
“You think [yoga]would be a nice little break, but last year it was brutal. Our yoga classes were at the end of the day and we were thinking it was going to be easy, and the instructor just punished us,” Davis said. “By then, your muscles are totally fatigued and you have to hold poses which is probably the worst class to take at that point — everything’s completely worn down.”
The duo is better prepared this year compared to last year — both took some extra classes and did extra cardio to get ready for the big day. Ake and Davis also tried to budget their time more efficiently, aiming to get as much travel time between classes as possible.
The second annual All Day Fitness endeavor is especially exciting for Ake — this year, his son, a Penn State junior, will also participate. The three will workout together in their custom orange shirts, featuring a tribute to linebacker Bart Scott’s trademark slogan and spaces for their instructors to sign on the back. Once the clock strikes 9 p.m. and they complete all their classes, Davis will get a visit from his toddlers and the crew will head downtown for their yearly post-challenge Chipotle dinner.
Although Ake and Davis started this journey just for fun, they thought it could eventually become something much greater for the Penn State community. One aspect of the program the duo enjoys most is their strengthened relationship with the university.
“We want to do it every year. We just want to have fun and do it, but just as importantly, we’ve gotten to know a lot of people with Penn State Fitness, so promoting this for them has become just as important to us,” Ake said. “We’ve also talked about raising money. If it’s successful again this year…I think we might raise some money next year for a charity. These are just the first steps. You look back at the THON — I used to go to it at the White Building, and now look at it. Now we’re hoping we can do something more than just promoting fitness, but it is what it is today.”
Just like THON, Ake and Davis want All Day Fitness to consistently take place around the same date — one that students can look forward to.
“March 1 is going to be the day, or whatever weekday is closest to that day. It’s the middle of winter, people are in the dull drums, but then they see two old guys like us working out — let’s get more people busting their butts out there.”