Gaison Ohana Is All In For Fitness

Yes, working out can be fun. Just ask 29-year- old Kapu Gaison, founder of the fourth annual Makahiki Challenge, which is coming up Jan. 31 at Kualoa.

“It’s about a 3-mile course through obstacles and mud, and ends with a paina, beer garden sponsored by Kona Brewing Company and concert,” explains Gaison. “We want to inspire people to get off the couch, and go outside and run, and this is an opportunity for them to do that.”

Kepa Gaison, Pilialoha Miller and Kapu Gaison | Nathalie Walker photo

Kepa Gaison, Pilialoha Miller and Kapu Gaison | Nathalie Walker photo

There are 12 obstacles throughout the course, with some more difficult than others. In the past, obstacles included monkey bars, an ice bath by Hawaiian Ice, mud pit, 12-foot wall climb, and a 100-foot water slide by I&L Rentals.

For Gaison, a 2003 graduate of Kamehameha Schools, sports and fitness have always been in his life. He played football at Chapman University, and competed in open circuit track & field events in California. But after living on the Mainland for eight years, and graduating with his MBA, he decided it was time to come home.

“I saw that obstacle/mud races were really popular and at the time we didn’t have one in Hawaii,” he says. “I saw the opportunity and when turned into a career for Gaison, who left his job in finance to do this full-time. More importantly, he hopes Makahiki Challenge encourages others to make fitness a part of their lifestyle, much like how it is for him and his family.

“I have to credit my dad, Blane Gaison. He always had us working out and eating right,” he says. “He played for the Atlanta Falcons and was athletic director at Kamehameha. We all played sports in high school. Pili played soccer and paddles. Kepa also played college football at University of Utah, and our little brother Kona plays soccer at HPU. Now, Kepa paddles and has a fitness company called Kepa Fit. I like to hike and surf, and I’m working on a project called Hike Hawaii, documenting hikes in the state.

“When we were younger, fitness and nutrition weren’t really an option. We were in it based on the lifestyle my dad had. But now that we’re able to make our own decisions, it’s something we really enjoy and all are a part of.”

The Makahiki Challenge is open to anyone age 16 and older, and of all fitness levels. Cost is $80. To register, visit