As a strength trainer, Eugene Teo regularly shares tips on how to build strength and muscle safely and sustainably through resistance training, but when it comes to the cardio side of fitness. physics, he is the first to admit that his expertise is limited. In a new video on his YouTube channel, he steps out of his comfort zone with the Progressive Aerobic Cardiovascular Endurance Run (PACER), also known as the multi-stage fitness test or beep test.
The PACER consists of a series of random runs of 20 meters, the objective of each length being to reach the line before hearing the beep. The gap between each beep gets shorter and shorter as the test continues until you sprint. When you are no longer able to walk 20 meters before hearing the beep, it means you are out of the test.
“I feel like I have PTSD from my high school gym class,” Eugene says. “I suck at anything physical.”
He is joined by trainer Sharelle Grant for the challenge. “I often find that I have more physical strength in my legs than I do in fitness,” she says. “I can go strong, but I will be completely destroyed in the end.”
After a short warm-up and some high school pre-workout energy in the form of Nerds candy, Eugene and Sharelle begin the test and fail level 6, which they attribute in part to carrying around a fair amount of muscle mass between them.
“I just hate that burning sensation,” he says. “I could easily do low-intensity cardio for hours…but when my lungs start to burn, I mentally kick.”
Sharelle also points out that Eugene’s running form was inefficient. “You’re making it difficult for yourself,” she said. “You’re very heavy on your feet and you weren’t using your arms to your full capacity to be able to get your stride and pace.” She adds that the PACER test is a good challenge because it’s pretty hard to get injured as long as you warm up enough.
“I did VO2 tests before using a bike, which is easier because there is no skill involved,” says Eugene. “But running, whether it’s on a treadmill or outside or whatever, is very technical. I haven’t run in years. And even though I had run in years, a lot of people run, but they don’t have good technique. That’s a big skill.”
Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the UK covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV.