The reflection in the mirror was shocking.
That wasn’t who Josh Corbeil pictured himself to be. A former three-sport athlete in high school, he had incrementally slowed down exercising and stopped worrying about physical fitness.
His weight had ballooned to 228 pounds, and shortly after the birth of his daughter, Blake, he caught a glimpse of his reflection, and was struck how out of shape he had become.
“I just thought that I needed to lose some weight. I remember of seeing a picture of myself and going, ‘Oh man,’” he said.
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That was seven years ago, and Corbeil has dedicated himself to fitness ever since.
Now, the Greenwood resident is combining his interest in fitness with a desire to help his community. He has been training for a Rugged Maniac race, an obstacle-laden course that will test participants stamina, coordination and willingness to get a little muddy.
At the same time, Corbeil has used his participation to raise money in support of the Greenwood Public Library in a project he’s calling Running for Reading. Donors have been following him along in his journey, and contributing to a crowdsourcing account that will go entirely towards programs at the library.
“It made our day. This is the first time someone’s done an official fundraiser just for us without planning with us beforehand. So we’re so excited about it,” said Cheryl Dobbs, director of the Greenwood Public Library.
The Rugged Maniac takes a traditional 5K trail run and spikes it with outlandish and intimidating obstacles to overcome. Participants have to run on a series of floating “lily pads” over a shallow pond, jump two sets of trampolines onto a cargo net climb and crawl through 30 feet of mud while trapped underneath a chain link fence.
The challenge that Corbeil has been dreading is the Ringer — a set of rings hangs over a muddy, watery pit, and the only way across is by swinging hand over hand.
The first three times he tried it at Indy Warrior training gym, he fell before reaching the second ring. He couldn’t figure out how he was going complete six or seven rings when he couldn’t do two.
“I’d never done any obstacles before. I’d been doing push-ups and pull-ups, that kind of stuff. But there were a lot of little techniques they taught me that, if I didn’t know them, I don’t know if I could do those obstacles,” he said. “It’s been fun.”
Corbeil is the head athletic trainer and senior director of medical operations for the Indiana Pacers, charged with ensuring that world-class athletes maintain peak physical condition.
So exercise, fitness and health have been part of his daily life for a long time. Only in the past few years did he take a look at his own conditioning and commit to get better.
“I did it because I had to, not because I liked it,” he said.
He started working out in different ways. He did full-body workout routines such as the P90X to build strength and flexibility. When he discovered the Core de Force, a mixed martial arts-based routine, he found the perfect mix of bodyweight moves and cardiovascular work.
As he got better, he looked for even greater challenges.
Corbeil has been friends with Tamika Catchings, the retired Indiana Fever star, for eight years. He helped her rehabilitate after an basketball injury while playing with the Fever, and they’ve been friends ever since. She came to Corbeil’s wedding, and they regularly talk.
They were having a conversation about what Catchings was going to do now that she’s retired. She suggested training for a marathon or triathlon, but then brought up doing a Spartan Race, an obstacle-based race series conducted nationwide.
Both Corbeil and Catchings joined a team to do the Indiana race on July 8. When Catchings had a commitment come up that prevented her from doing the Spartan Race, they looked for another similar event that they could do.
That led them to Rugged Maniac, which is today in Paoli.
“We started looking at the course, and thought that it would be good,” Catchings said. “His big thing was that he wanted to finish, and we thought we could make it through.”
To get ready, Corbeil has been doing a core-specific MMA workout six days a week, then later in the day do 45 minutes of cardio training.
After deciding to do a obstacle course, he tried to focus specifically on his upper-body strength. Every day, he started doing pull-ups.
When he started, he could do 10 at a time. Slowly, he worked his way up to 25 per day, tacked on to the end of whatever workout he completed.
“I figured I’d embarrass myself on some of these upper-body obstacles, so I wanted to do these pull-ups,” he said. “It’s made all of the difference as I’ve tried these obstacle courses.”
As the race neared, Corbeil decided to turbo-charge his workouts. He sought out ninja training, first at Indy Warrior gym in Noblesville, then at Train Yard 317 in Indianapolis.
Trainers such as Andy Smith, owner of Indy Warrior gym, and Danny Owens at Train Yard 317 helped Corbeil and Catchings learn how to take the muscles and endurance he had been honing and properly apply them to wall climbing, cargo nets and other obstacles.
The opportunity to do an obstacle race was exciting for Corbeil. But he was also invigorated by a fundraising aspect that Rugged Maniac builds into its events. Individual racers can create a webpage and raise money for a cause important to them.
Catchings decided to bring attention to her Catch the Stars nonprofit, which promotes literacy, fitness and mentoring in central Indiana. For Corbeil, he also picked a cause that has impacted his life.
Corbeil’s wife, Ellen, is the chair of the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library. The fundraising group generates money and supports the library by purchasing materials, equipment and programming that it otherwise couldn’t afford within its budget.
“Since my wife was a little kid, the Greenwood library has been important to her. She spends a lot of time raising money for that,” he said. “In the past, I haven’t been able to support her very much, other than get her signed items from the Pacers. So I thought this was a good opportunity to do it.”
At the same time, Catchings has been helping draw attention to Corbeil’s Running for Reading effort.
“We do a lot of stuff with our foundation, so I thought I’d start advertising to get more people to donate to his,” she said. “I thought it’d be good to direct people to him.”
As the race approached, friends, families and supporters have tried to spread Corbeil’s fundraising page on social media. Excitement has been building, particularly among library patrons and people throughout the Greenwood community.
“People are pretty happy about it. We’re doing whatever we can to try and show our support for him as he does this,” Dobbs said.
Corbeil is excited to take this next step in his exercise journey. He weighs 190 now, down nearly 40 pounds from his come-too-fitness moment. After a few obstacle-specific training sessions, he’s comfortable tackling the Rugged Maniac course.
“It’s all I think about now. I look around and see things, and wonder how I can climb that or use that to training,” he said. “I’ve never thought like that before. It makes me feel like I can do things I couldn’t do before.”
More importantly, he happy to be able to contribute to a cause that is so special to his family.
“The fact that I can finally be a part of what she’s doing is really special,” he said. “She takes our kids to storytime. Our kids basically live at the library. They bring a whole case of books back at a time. Whatever the amount I raise, it’ll feel good for the library to get that.”
Running for Reading
What: A fundraising effort by Greenwood resident Josh Corbeil to help support the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library. Corbeil is taking pledges from people as he runs a Rugged Maniac obstacle race.
When: The race is today in Paoli.
How to donate: Donations can be made on his race page, crowdrise.com/theres-a-first-time-for-everything/fundraiser/joshcorbeil, through today.
People can also donate to the Friends of the Greenwood Public Library at gplpayments.com.