Carmel Valley-based Gut Check Fitness honors the military with Memorial Day run


Carmel Valley-based Gut Check Fitness celebrated Memorial Day with a beach run to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Operation Rebound. Operation Rebound is a sports and fitness program for American military personnel, veterans and first responders who have physical challenges that provides funding for equipment, training and competition expenses.

The Memorial Day run started at Torrey Pines State Beach and finished in front of Tower 23 in Cardiff. Participants ran in formation and took turns carrying the American flag while military members shouted out the cadences.

“It was a fun and very powerful run,” said Gut Check founder Joe Decker, noting that the morning began with the group got to meet one of the Operation Rebound soldiers and hearing his story.

Gut Check also had a workout the Saturday before Memorial Day at Kate Sessions Park, raising funds for the Mount Soledad Veterans Memorial.

Gut Check celebrates every holiday that has to do with the military, as it means so much to Decker, who served three years in the Army with the 10th Mountain Division. The military so helped shape his life that he wants to do everything he can to give back.

Gut Check is an outdoor boot camp that targets “weekend warriors” willing to take on a test of determination, courage and character. The workout was named the “Hardest Workout” by Competitor Magazine, and Trailrunner Magazine has said the program “redefines hardcore.”

Decker started Gut Check 10 years ago with one class at the Carmel Valley Recreation Center. Gut Check has now expanded to several locations throughout San Diego including Torrey Hills, with 25 classes during the week. Gut Check affiliates are now being developed in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., and in January this year, an affiliate was launched in Australia.

Decker’s wife, Nicole, even quit her job in the corporate environment and now works alongside him full time.

“It’s just disbelief that this little thing that started in San Diego has now gone international,” Decker said. “It makes me really proud and it makes me feel good that people are getting the message about health, wellness and getting active, not only here but around the world.”

For Decker and Gut Check, it’s all about the lifestyle.

“Gut Check athletes eat and train, they don’t diet and exercise,” Decker said.

While the Deckers now live downtown, the “heart and soul” remains in Carmel Valley. The classes there are among the most popular, and that’s where it all began. Some of Decker’s oldest and dearest friendships were formed there, and he loves that the Carmel Valley community as a whole is so active and passionate about health and wellness.

“After 10 years, I’m still having an incredible time doing it,” Decker said.