Gyms across the Phoenix area take part in the 'Murph Challenge' to honor fallen soldier

Every Memorial Day, gyms across the country take on a special workout that honors a fallen member of the military: Lieutenant Michael Murphy, and on May 30, 2022, gyms across Arizona took part in the "Murph Challenge" to honor the fallen hero.

Lt. Murphy was a Navy SEAL who was killed in action in Afghanistan. He died in 2005, and every year on Memorial Day since his death, gyms across the country take on his workout as part of the Murph Challenge.

"We do it every year on Memorial Day. It's a great time for people to come together and honor those [who] have given the ultimate sacrifice," said the owner of Crossfit Four Peaks in Fountain Hills, Andrew Gonzalez.

The workout consists of a one-mile run, 100 pull-ups, and then 200 push-ups, 300 air squats, and then another one-mile run. That was the exact workout of Lt. Murphy.

The challenge is tough, and many make it harder by wearing a weighted vest. They let the sweat and pain serve as a reminder.

"I always say this, I said it to many people today: it's not about the PR. It's not about the time. It's not about how well you did X, Y, Z, but if a few times during that workout you put your own suffering aside and just say, 'hey I got this, others have suffered more,' just doing that two or three times during this workout means the world," said Joe Paul, a Crossfit fury coach in Goodyear.

On Memorial Day, the Murph Challenge, as well as Lt. Murphy's sacrifice, meant even more to some.

"I was with 2nd Ranger Battalion, which is in Fort Lewis, Washington, and it was a couple of my sister platoons that were on the rescue mission for Dietz and Murphy and Luttrell," said Grant Quezada, one of the owners of Founder's Gym.

To put it simply, Memorial Day is a big deal to Quezada. His status as retired Army Special Forces is of the many reasons he hosts the Murph Challenge at his gym every year.

"I had six deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. I lost 13 different buddies that were in the ranger battalion with me," said Quezada. "It's a very sober reminder to me and to others that have served, and should be to those that are fortunate enough not to have served, that we would not be here as a nation without those men and women."

For those who just see Memorial Day as a day off on the calendar, those in the military have this message.

"It's not to say you can’t have a happy Memorial Day, but it's just remembering what it's about, and if you are celebrating, also commemorate," said Paul.

The goal for the Murph Challenge is two-pronged: to raise awareness of what Memorial Day is truly all about, and keep Lt. Murphy's memory alive. It also serves as an annual fundraiser for the Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, which grants scholarships to students in need.