STRENGTH IN NUMBERS: “Outlander” actor Sam Heughan is doing what he can to try to whip some of his fans into shape in advance of next month’s My Peak Challenge. Through a partnership with Bear Strength Clothing Co., a little-known athletic company based in South Wales, Heughan started spreading the word about the charity event in January. Participants were encouraged to pinpoint a goal at the beginning of the year and train accordingly. While many are like the Scottish actor — a proven runner, mountain climber and cross-training fan — and are focusing on an athletic goal, others have chosen more sedentary pursuits, including one woman who is learning how to knit, according to Bear Strength Clothing cofounder Andy Shears.
Heughan helped to develop a 60-day training and nutrition program that aims to result in lifestyle changes for newcomers, workout regulars and weekend warriors alike. Bear Strength Clothing is selling a limited-edition MPC supporter pack, which includes a T-shirt, a Sam Heughan print, wristband, sticker and badge, and will donate those profits to the cancer-fighting charity Bloodwise.
“Some people want to climb the mountain or they are trying to run their first 5K. The idea is to defy a challenge, but it doesn’t always have to be an athletic one,” said Shears, who started the British e-commerce business with his brother, Gareth, in 2013. They decided to focus on the CrossFit market. Blending elements of gymnastics, weightlifting, running and rowing, CrossFit consists of constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.
In addition to its e-commerce site, Bear Strength sells its apparel at weekend CrossFit competitions in the U.K. The company has sold its collection at 22 such events so far this year, and next month, staffers will travel to Madrid for the Meridian Regional CrossFit Games. Last year 2,000 people signed up for My Peak Challenge and this year that figure should be between 3,000 and 4,000, Shears said.
Heughan has been doling out training tips via Twitter to help fans get stronger before this year’s My Peak Challenge. Shears said Bear Strength sent some products to the actor after first connecting with him in 2014. “He always wanted to do something of a charitable nature. And we’ve always wanted to be more than a clothing brand,” he said.
My Peak Challenge will benefit Bloodwise, the U.K.-based charity formerly known as Leukemia and Lymphoma Research that is dedicated to fighting the 137 types of blood cancer. As grand marshall of this month’s Barbour-sponsored Tartan Day Parade in New York, the Scottish-born Heughan helped spread the word by launching #TartanTuesday, encouraging people to tweet their best tartan photos to help raise awareness about blood cancer.