A pretty huge deal: Pretty Huge Obstacles is a new player out to change the fitness game

Last Friday kicked off the start of February with the unveiling of Pretty Huge Obstacles, currently billed as Asia’s first and largest sports facility, at the 2nd floor of the Civic Center at SM Aura Premier, in the heart of Bonifacio Global City.

However, although generally outlined as such, ‘sports facility’ is perhaps a bit of a simplification — in actuality, the PHO facility is an ambitious entity quite entirely in a league of its own — and one perhaps difficult to classify: it’s a cross between a gym and an obstacle course, part training field and all-around playground — and it’s all coming to the public this year.

The facility itself is an impressive feat: over 100 obstacle facilities populate the 2000-square meter space offering a varied set of activities, from advanced running, to climbing, and swinging, and quite literally everything in between.

But there is a distinct difference in the Pretty Huge Obstacle facility that markedly sets it apart in the fitness landscape, in that its entire existence is grounded and anchored on a core mission and advocacy — that of guiding, shaping, and molding holistic human development by way of physical fitness — and it is a sentiment universally shared by every member involved in the facility’s making, from its founders to its trainers and athletes.

And indeed, it is that very vision that drew Pilipinas Obstacles Sports Federation (POSF) President Atty. Al Agra to the very facility itself to serve as the official training ground for the Philippine representatives at the upcoming SEA Games. In his welcoming remarks, Agra highlighted what is perhaps the central advocacy behind PHO as a whole: that of creating “not just better athletes, but better humans”, which, as Agra reminded, was the real essence of Olympism.

The panelists, from left to right: Ian Adamson, Noel Agra, Al Agra, Ritsuo Arao, Charz Kelso.

Also present at the launch alongside Agra were the team behind PHO, including Chief Financial Officer Mike Yung, Chief Operating Officer Ritsuo Arao, Chief Strategic Officer Charz Kelso, as well as Ricky Vargas and Ian Adamson, presidents of the World OCR and Philippine Olympic Committee, respectively, and PHO Brand Ambassador Noel Agra — Atty. Al Agra’s son.

But much of the event was also highlighted by the presence of the members of the national training pool themselves, who all together comprised of 20 athletes — 10  men and 10 women, in a conscious effort for gender-balanced representation. The team demonstrated PHO’s various facilities, led by coach Sarah Lim, a former tennis player and all-around trainer.


Also present were the Philippine national training pool, who hope to enter the SEA Games.

Lim, who also will train as part of the national team, spoke on the very complexities in the field of fitness and training, particularly in dismantling the widely-held assumptions and mindsets on maintaining physical health — such as the “work hard, play hard” mindset.

“We want as much as possible to be science-based [in our training]…You see a lot of people who feel like they can do it, then they just do it, then they get injured. Or some people have this no pain no gain mindset, which is also false.”

Coach and athlete Sarah Lim spoke of PHO’s smart and functional equipment.

Indeed, much of her belief is grounded on scientific knowledge as well as common sense, all of which she sums up in her overall philosophy of “training smart, not just training hard” — which she sees reflected in the PHO facilities and functional equipment in regard to their ability to make use of every single part of the body, which she believes is what enables us to altogether be more human.

And in all, this is perhaps what it all really boils down to at Pretty Huge Obstacles’ core: the challenge and achievement of ultimately being in better touch with our physical selves — of being more human in every sense of the word — through well-rounded fitness, training, and exercise. It’s a pretty huge undertaking for such a young facility, sure, but it’s also one that’s unquestionably up for the challenge.


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