New workouts in Vail Valley take fitness to the next level |

New workouts in Vail Valley take fitness to the next level

HL Crossfit 3 KA 3-16-12

While some people associate spring with “cleaning,” others think of it as spring “training” and use this time to beef up their workouts. CrossFit Venture, Manic Training, and the TRX Suspension Trainer are three types of engaging, challenging workouts that aim to get people off the treadmill and onto something new. None of them are a walk in the park, but each one offers a different approach to getting in shape for the summer, and then some.

CrossFit Venture in Avon and High Altitude in Gypsum both follow the CrossFit philosophy. Started in California as a training regime for the police force, CrossFit has grown due to its group atmosphere in which members try to push themselves and others to the next level. The CrossFit Games are held every year, in which gyms and individuals compete in a variety of workout challenges in order to make it to regionals and possibly even the world championships. CrossFit is an interval-based workout that rotates between weight lifting, gymnastics and cardio segments. Each segment ranges from 6 to 25 minutes. CrossFit is intended to target 10 different components of fitness: Strength, endurance, accuracy, balance, agility, coordination, speed, power, flexibility and stamina. Every CrossFit gym features the Workout of the Day. CrossFit also incorporates the Paleo diet, which consists of lean meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Natalie McLain, the owner of CrossFit Venture in Avon, opened her gym in August.

“Vail is the mecca of outdoor and fit people,” McLain said. “CrossFit is kind of rugged and tough, so I just thought that it would fit really well up here.”

The challenge of CrossFit often gets people hooked. Avon resident April Ramker, 30, heard about CrossFit from a friend and decided to give it a try. She now works out at CrossFit Venture five times a week and has become devoted to her new fitness lifestyle. Ramker thinks that the community-like atmosphere of CrossFit is what contributes to its growing popularity.

“You live and breathe it,” Ramker said. “It’s not a normal gym to workout in. People hang out even when they’re not working out. Because I have a passion for it, I found myself here a lot.”

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CrossFit is designed for all skill levels, and the difficulty increases as people improve and become more fit.

“It’s the intensity of CrossFit that brings results,” McLain said. “It’s more work in less time. You see yourself push harder than you normally would. It’s that thing you don’t really get anywhere else.”

Started in Steamboat by career sports coach Graham Muir, Manic Training opened a new space in Edwards last month. Bored with the monotony of gym workouts, Muir decided to design a program of his own. Alison Wadey, 37, handles marketing for Manic Training and said the workout is “old-school strong man meets new-age training philosophies.”

The fitness routine follows a tri-weekly schedule. Monday is focused on endurance exercises, Wednesday is for strength training and Friday combines the two for a high intensity total-body workout. Part of Manic Training’s emphasis is working different muscles to help with injury prevention. Andy Picking is the trainer and owner of the Edwards location. He’s been involved with Manic Training for one year. An athlete all his life, Picking has found that the program has improved his endurance running.

“As I got older, I started to feel the aches and pains more,” Picking said. “I needed something to supplement this. With (Manic Training), I felt better, I performed better and I had less injuries.”

Picking said that Manic Training’s philosophy is based on strength and cardio training for “mountain lifestyles.” Those who participate in sports such as skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and running could see changes in their ability with the help of the program. One of Picking’s clients, who is a Nordic freestyle skier, has decreased his 10K time by five minutes since he’s started the program.

Wadey works out at the gym every week and has noticed a difference, she said..

“I’m a tele skier and I feel like I have better endurance,” Wadey said. “I definitely have more definition in my muscle tone. Overall I feel more strength.”

Picking sees Manic Training as a great way to get into better shape.

“I like to say that you’ve got to carry your engine,” Picking said. “First you’ve got to build the muscle to carry your engine. And then you can rev up the engine and burn that fat as needed.”

While CrossFit and Manic Training are bringing new fitness approaches into the gym, the TRX Suspension Trainer is leaving the weight room altogether. The Suspension Trainer was initially designed for U.S. Navy SEAL teams. When deployed to a specific area, Navy SEALs would often have to stay in top shape while waiting for the go-ahead to complete their mission. The straps could be tied to the top of a tank and then soldiers could use their own body weight to practice resistance and strength training. The TRX Suspension Trainer is now used in both gyms and at home where it can be attached to a wall, door, tree, swing set, or post. John Poukish runs the TRX program at the Homestead Court Club in Edwards and also trains clients at the Ritz Carlton Club at Bachelor Gulch.

“It’s focused on functional strength and core strength,” Poukish said. “(Core strength) is a situation you need in everyday life, not just a situation where you’re doing weight training or supported by a bench.”

According to Poukish, the suspension trainer helps improve core muscles, glutes, and back ailments. While other fitness programs may prioritize one muscle group over another, TRX is intended to increase your core strength, and creates a balanced training regiment. Poukish calls the suspension trainer a “gym in a bag.”

“It’s one of the most superior workout systems out there with the amount of movements and strength training that are possible,” Poukish said. “It’s a versatile tool and it’s compact.”

TRX has become more popular because “it’s new, it’s effective, and it works,” said Poukish. While one can purchase the TRX Suspension Trainer on their own, attending a personal training session might produce more effective results.

“The people I train, they’ve given me feedback that it helps many of the things that they’re doing,” Poukish said. “Originally they come because they feel like they need to improve their conditioning. They continue to come because it produces benefits for them and they see the improvements.”

Rosanna Turner is a freelance writer based in Vail. Email comments about this story to

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