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Nature – Renew Yourself by Getting Outside

Dave Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

Earlier this week I had the pleasure to run on Mason Creek at Staunton State Park. It’s that time of year where one day there’s snow on the trail and after a few days of a melt/freeze cycle it’s an ice flow. With our warm weather of late the changes are happening quickly and it can make for interesting gear choices. The ever changing trail conditions is a beautiful sight to see. The frequent changes portends of the coming changing of seasons. For many, the next few months is the time of year when they come out of hibernation to enjoy the beautiful outdoors surrounding us. Being outside provides so many positive things for our body and mind.

Numerous studies continue to show the positive effects that being in nature has on our brain. With all the new research telling us what we already know, the act of actually getting outside and enjoying our beautiful surroundings is not something most do enough. With so many known positive attributes to being outside, why do many not enjoy the outdoors while knowing so well how good it is for us?

Unfortunately renewing self generally comes last on the list of to-dos. This time in nature allows us time to reflect on our lives and to reset our personal compass in the direction of what’s most important. For me personally, being outside on a run, hike or mountain bike ride is truly like a drug. So much so, that many of the people working at Staunton know me well. I’m generally there at least 3 times a week. This time in nature provides a time for my mind to rest, bring clarity and remind me that every day we have on this earth is truly a gift.

The great thing about where we all live is that we have so many wonderful places to spend time outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short or long hike. The key is to just do it. It could be a stroll up Staunton Ranch trail or maybe a longer more intense hike up Mason Creek in Staunton. They each have their magic. If you have not hiked up Mason Creek, it’s like entering a different place.

So here’s a challenge this week: get outside for a hike. Head to Staunton State Park or another local Open Space and just hike. Don’t go heads down trying to just get it done. Stop occasionally and take in the view of all of the surrounding beauty. Close your eyes and just listen. Look at the trees and see how many colors of green you can see. If there’s a stream, sit next to it and clear your mind. Listen to the water; observe how it flows. Before you know it, your mind will become clearer and you’ll have a sense of lightness. This is relaxation. It’s sadly too foreign for most people these days.

If you accept this challenge, I can guarantee that you’ll have a clearer mind, you’ll approach the next day or coming week happier, more patient and more fulfilled.

The Current “Lifestyle Crisis”

Deb Brown, NSCA-cpt, cwc, cns

istock_000005831265mediumI had my annual check up with my primary care doc today and we fell to discussing how hard it is to get folks to change their habits so that they can become healthier. He commented that it’s not so much that we have a health care crises in this country, but a ‘lifestyle crises’. That term immediately hit me as correct! Many people have chronic health issues that they simply take meds for. Imagine what could be possible if folks worked on changing their lifestyle to positively affect their health? Below are some ideas on how you can do just that! Please note that if you have a chronic health condition, you should get your doctor’s approval on any and all lifestyle changes.

  1. First, do some soul searching. Take some time to think about the current state of your body. How did you arrive at this place? What in your life is contributing to the health problem? If you continue on the same path, what are the ramifications? What will be your motivation to change and change for good?
  2. Move more! Do you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or extra weight to lose? You absolutely need to get moving – TODAY! Make exercise a daily part of your life. Start slow. Even 5-10 minutes of walking at first will benefit your body. Work up to longer sessions. Sweat is your friend! Get involved in local classes, work with a personal trainer, grab a friend for a few hikes. Don’t even think about using the fact that the weather is getting colder as an excuse that you cannot get outside. If you can walk, you can snowshoe. Buy microspikes. There are tons of research studies out there about the positive effect that exercise has on the above issues. Don’t let “busyness” get in the way of your health. It should be your top priority.
  3. Get serious about the quality and quantity of your food intake. Stop eating processed, prepared, junky foods. Focus on increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Yes, eating real food often does require some planning, prep and cooking. Making time for it is making your health a priority.
  4. Reduce or eliminate alcohol intake. Not only will you shed pounds if you curtail your drinking, but you will have more energy and several of your internal organs will thank you.
  5. Lastly, start NOW. Don’t wait until New Year’s to start investing in your health. The only thing that will be different between now and then is the date on the calendar. You aren’t going to get magically motivated in January, at least not the lasting, real, deep kind of motivation.  Get motivated NOW to make lasting change!!
If you’re going to do it, you gotta do it. 

Dave Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

The title of this article seems obvious. Here’s the original version; If you’re gunna do it, you gotta do it. If you ain’t gunna do it, you ain’t gunna do it. Right now you’re wondering if I’ve lost my mind and where in the heck I came up with that phrase. I have no idea why I thought of it, but probably over a year and a half ago I started saying it to my dogs before I took them out for a walk. It starts off very high pitched and within the first second they know it’s walk time.

While it’s goofy, if you think about what it’s saying it makes a lot of sense. Many will read it and just think – Well of course it does. Now think about it in relation to your goals. This is when the plot thickens.

We see a lot of goals people set, some accomplished and some not. Almost 100% of the time when a goal is not realized it was because You didn’t do it. What do I mean by that? Let’s take weight loss as an example. If your goal is to lose weight Are you really doing it? Are you making the decision to skip alcohol most of the time? Are you making the tough decision to tell your significant other and friends you can’t go out to eat 90% of the time? Are you planning and preparing food if you’re out for the day? Are you getting 5-6 days of cardio in, including weekends? If the answer to any of these is No, then You’re not doing it.

As an avid trail runner if I make excuses not to run, if I don’t run on the days when I don’t feel like it or the weather isn’t cooperating, I’m not doing it, and I won’t reach my goals. I’ve run in weather as cold as 8° and while it was a cold start when I got done I was on cloud 9 because I did it! The reason I mention the running when it was 8° is to illustrate it’s not always easy, but pushing through when it’s tough has rewards.

No matter what the goal is You have to do it! Often we will see people confused as to why they don’t reach a goal and in almost every case it’s because they Didn’t do it. Doing it takes sacrifice and it isn’t always fun. But when you engage and You do it it is always worth it and it’s rewarding. Before you know it a snowball effect starts and you gain more momentum and not Doing it is no longer an option.
A quote from Dr. Jim Afremow sums this up well. Commitment always boils down to, “Am I willing to go all the way to DO what I SAY I want the most? Am I going to get it done, or aren’t I?

Getting in Shape for Winter Fun!

Dave & Deb Brown, NSCA-CPT’s

As I write this article, it is a warm and sunny blue-and-gold Fall day. Dave and I have been out hiking, mountain biking and running quite a lot; soaking up the beauty. However, in a few weeks, the snow will start flying. Will you hibernate all winter as the days grow shorter or will you make the transition to colder weather activities? Hopefully, you can continue to fully enjoy all that Colorado has to offer by staying active throughout the next several months. Here are some great ideas to help you get and stay fit for winter activities:

Build a foundation of fitness. If you have not been active recently, but plan to snowshoe, hunt, ski or snowboard, get moving now to build a base of strength and endurance. The best fitness plan combines cardio work, strength training, core training, flexibility and balance work.

Include exercises that are specific to your activity. If you are a skier or snowboarder, you will want to incorporate specific movements that mimic what you will do during your activity. For example, when training for any winter sport, you will want to include integrated strength and conditioning movements for the quads, hamstrings, glutes and the muscles in your core. The core is tricky as the goal is to make it more stable front and back and rotational. If you’ve got a great base level of fitness, plyometrics and agility training can be added, especially if you will be riding moguls in a couple months. These are the muscles you use the most when playing in winter so if you can focus on them pre-season, you will have a strong start and just continue to get stronger as the season moves forward. Make sure to consistently engage in some form of cardio work such as running, cycling or cardio machines to keep your endurance up.

Include cross training. The human body can get really good at doing the same thing over and over so it’s important to add cross training. Cross training is critical as it causes the body to move differently than in our sport or choice, thus lowering injury chances. Strength train, hit the cardio machines in the gym or just engage in different activities than your primary one. Always include consistent stretching to maintain flexibility and to help avoid injury.

Get out in the cold. Start now, while it isn’t too cold out there yet. Get out walking, hiking, snowshoeing running, or whatever you like to do. Get used to the cold weather so when you start participating in your favorite winter sport your body is more capable of handling it.

Fuel your body correctly. Make sure you are eating healthful foods to support your body’s need for energy. Limit alcohol the night before a big ski day and make sure you eat a good breakfast! Carry healthy snacks when you are out doing your activity so that you can maintain energy and don’t forget to stay adequately hydrated.

Just Get Started!

Dave Brown
NSCA Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

get-startedSometimes the hardest thing to do is actually making the decision to start something and then taking action. This winter, I’ve had many opportunities to push myself to make the decision and secondly take action. I’m a trail runner and run in all seasons. This winter, I’ve run more outside and in snow than any previous year. On mornings when it’s as low as 8° outside it can be tough to get out of a warm bed, put on running gear and head outside. The decision can be tough and taking action can be even tougher. I know when I first walk outside the cold will sting. I can say without hesitation that every run I’ve done in the cold and snow has been more than worth it. Running in the cold is actually incredibly refreshing and invigorating.

No matter what you’re looking to do, it begins with a concrete decision to start. It could be something as small as not missing a run as in my case. It could be something life changing like starting a weight-loss program, deciding to watch less TV to have more family time, or deciding this is the year to hike your first 14er.

There is no perfect time to start something. There will always be obstacles to success that we’ll need to plan around. It’s called Life! Personally, I think when times are crazy it’s the best time to get started. If you can start a fitness program, be consistent and learn how to navigate the rough waters of life when things are crazy, imagine how you’ll do when things settle down.

By making the decision to get started, you are making the decision to put yourself first in one area of your life. For some, this will feel uncomfortable because they’ve always put their needs last. The interesting part of making a decision to get fit and healthier is that it helps to drive all other aspects of life. You’ll have more energy and a freer mind. One of the coolest things about what Deb & I do is watching clients progress through their journey to better health. Seeing someone start with a low fitness level and then through training, develop the strength and confidence to take on their first 5k or another milestone event is amazing.

Now is the time to make the decision to Just Get Started! Not next month, not next year. The decision to start is the toughest part of the journey toward a healthier you. Once you make that decision, it gets easier with each passing day. Here’s the creed Peter Twist, one of the top fitness presenters, who recently battled Stage 4 Nasopharyngeal cancer lives by; “Life is short…LIVE EVERY DAY. Today I will GIVE everything I have, what I keep inside I will lose forever.” Powerful words to live by.

Call us to get a personalized fitness plan designed around your goals and abilities. We are located in the heart of Aspen Park on the 285 frontage road. Give Dave or Deb a call for more information about our Personal Training and Coaching services at (303) 816-1426. You can visit us on the web at

Dig Deep

Deb Brown, NSCA-cpt, cns, cws

Dig_deep_462273705Have you created goals for the New Year? You may be having challenges in keeping motivated and wondering how you are going to stay the course. Are the excuses starting to pop up? If so, read on to learn how to stay motivated.

1. Examine your goal: is it realistic and measurable? How will you know when you have been successful? Does it work into your current lifestyle and schedule? Do you have a good support team?

2. Examine your obstacles? What is really getting in the way of you actively working on your goals every day? The “I’m too busy” excuse is not good enough. If you are truly committed to making your health a priority, you will find the time needed. If other things are constantly getting in the way of you working out, you need to do some soul searching and ask why you keep ending up on the bottom of your own priority list?

3. Ask yourself: what motivates you? If you are feeling ambivalent toward your goals, but feel that they are achievable, examine why you are not still excited to work on them. Ask why you are motivated to work on this goal, and then ask why again until you have distilled your true motivation.

4. Believe in yourself and abilities – look at what you have done well in the past; in what areas of life you have succeeded. What did it take to achieve success in these areas? Organization, focus, hard work? Guess what? It takes the same skills to commit to and live a healthy life. You have the skills. Now, just
harness those skills that you use at work or in other places in your life and apply to your fitness goals.

5. What is the “game-changer”? What is the one action, that if you did it every day, would lead to success? What is standing in your way? Commit and find a way to make this happen. Is it getting into the gym three times per week? Grocery shopping and meal planning over the weekend? Do it!

6. Recommit!! Refine your goals to what excites you and what is achievable. Don’t just totally give up! Push aside those goals that do not work for you and focus on what DOES work, what gives you energy. Use visualization to see where you want to get to. At your optimal level of wellness, what do you look like, feel like? What are the things that you will be able to do that you cannot do now? Write these ideas down and go back and read them when you are feeling out of focus.

If you would like support in achieving your health and fitness goals, give us a call to learn how we can help.

A Safe and Balanced Workout

Deb Brown, NSCA-cpt, cwc, cns

January will be here before you know it! As you consider your fitness for the upcoming year, make sure you are using safe and proper techniques in your exercise program.  There are many things to consider as you start a new workout program; or if you have been working out for awhile and are not seeing results.

Make sure to have a properly balanced program: a good program will include not only cardiovascular work, but also strength training, flexibility work, core work and balance. It is important to work all of these components for the best results. Also, it is critical to work opposing muscle groups. For example, pushing muscles and pulling muscles work together in our bodies and both must be addressed. We all spend quite a lot of time driving and working at our desks. This creates tension in the muscles of the neck and back due to the “forward lean”. It is important to balance out that tension with the appropriate exercises to help avoid a chronic issue or injury.

Be aware of intensity issues and proper progression. People often start working out on their own, hitting it really hard in a spurt of enthusiasm. This can lead to injury and then getting side-lined. There is no reason that you cannot reach your fitness goals without doing a high intensity workout all the time. If you injure yourself or even get too sore, it is counterproductive. If you are constantly sore from your workouts, your body is struggling to cope with inflammation, which is not healthy. Constant and severe soreness also leads to withdrawal from regular exercise.

Proper progression means to start out where you are TODAY and slowly, but steadily increase intensity. You have to give your bones, joints and muscles time to adjust to the challenge of the exercise. Warming up properly before any exercise is critical, as is stretching afterwards.

The variety of exercises is also very important. If you are continually doing the exact same movements, your body adapts accordingly and you will cease seeing gains. You want to be moving your bones and joints in different planes of motion to mimic how we move throughout the day. If you keep doing the same thing over and over, you could set yourself up for repetitive strain injury.

As you can tell, there are multiple facets that go into designing a safe and balanced workout. If you would like to learn more about how we can set you up with an appropriate fitness program, please give us a call to schedule a free consultation.

Everyday Eating Decisions and Your Health

By Deb Brown, NSCA-CPT, cwc,cns

Everyday eating decisions affect your overall health in a big way. We are all very busy and often this leads to grabbing whatever is easiest and most convenient, regardless of nutritional quality.  This leads to an intake of foods high in calories, salt and saturated fats. These foods also tend to be low on fiber and nutrients. Eating on the run also tends to mean a lower intake of fruits and vegetables, which contain very important nutrients. All of this encourages weight gain, an unbalanced intake of nutrients and a lack of sustained energy. With a little thought and planning, you can decide to eat better on a daily basis, leading to greater energy and health. Here are some eating situations we all encounter every day and some ideas on how you can make the best decisions:

  1.  Out at a restaurant with friends/family – Skip the bread, appetizers, dessert and if possible, alcohol. Just have an entree consisting of a lean protein and healthy vegetables. Practice good portion control: eat until you are satisfied and then STOP eating! Get the rest bagged up for tomorrow’s lunch.
  1.  Running errands – plan your day and bring a cooler filled with healthy snacks and a healthy lunch. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water.
  1. Late night hunger – avoid getting hungry later at night by eating a good dinner and making sure you are getting enough calories throughout the day. Try to eat something every 3 or 4 hours.
  1. Busy and stress-filled workdays: pack a healthy lunch and snacks that you will look forward to eating. Include some healthy and delicious treats that you love such as small amounts of dark chocolate, tasty yogurt or fresh berries. Eating healthy does NOT mean eating dull and boring foods.
  1. Watching TV/Movies – mindless eating can really get you into trouble here! Have some healthy snacks available and put a specific portion into a bowl to enjoy.
  1. At home: eat a good breakfast which includes healthy portions of protein, carbohydrate and some fat. Make sure your house is stocked with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that you can grab when on the run. Whole grain crackers/bread, low-fat cheese, hummus, peanut butter, Clif Bars and hard boiled eggs are some good grab-and-go staples.

If you are wondering where to begin, first analyze your current eating patterns and look for places where you can make healthier eating decisions. Start by keeping a food log for just 7 days and then you can see just what you are putting into your body.  Little dietary changes that you can make throughout the day really do add up over the course of a week, month and year.

Let Your Fitness Power 2015

Dave Brown, NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Corrective Exercise Specialist

mtnbiking-sedonaI love April! It’s a time of renewal and looking forward. With longer days come more opportunities to get outside and enjoy the warmth of the sun. For me personally, it’s a time when I get more opportunities to mountain bike, trail run and hike on dry trails. It’s also when I start to change my workout program so I can be stronger in those activities.

Spring is when people start making plans; vacations (fitting into summer clothes), signing-up for endurance events, hiking, deciding which fourteeners they want to do over the summer, etc. All of these have one thing in common: being in better shape makes everything more enjoyable. Let’s delve into the Why!

When we exercise we’re pushing blood flow to every part of the body. More blood flow means more energy and oxygen available to the body. This process also powers our muscles during our workouts. The longer and more consistently we exercise our muscles, including our heart, they become stronger and operate more efficiently. This is what drives the possible!


Anyone who has started a new exercise program has noticed the body is initially uncoordinated and resistant to movement. Why is that? Put simply when you’re not exercising, especially after 40, you’re becoming both weaker and  less coordinated. The term Use it or lose it! could not be more true.

Fortunately for us the body is an adaptive machine. It loves to move and rewards us greatly when we do. When we start exercising, the first thing that happens is the body starts to move more efficiently. This process is called Neuromuscular adaptations. Also, the body never uses one muscle when performing exercises. Many muscles must be able to move together in concert for efficient movement.  If you’re pushing weight while standing in an upright position, your chest, shoulder and tricep muscles work to push the weight, but if we can’t stabilize the weight with our abdominals we’ll have a tough time.

Let’s take an example of running. Most people think about just the legs working, but there’s so much more going in. We have muscles in our hips and inner thigh that help stabilize the knees. Our abdominal and back muscles must also work to stabilize our upper body. A properly designed workout program takes all of these factors into account to build a stronger runner.


When we are stronger and can move better new things become possible. The hike we once thought impossible happens. The 5K or cycling event that was once just a dream is now a reality. On vacation, you have the strength and energy to experience more, making for a more enjoyable trip.

My favorite stories from clients are when they experience new things due to their increased fitness. That can be you in 2015! All it takes is getting started.

Winter’s here (almost), what are your outdoors plans?

When the temperatures drop is the time most people stop going outdoors for activities. In my opinion some of the most magical times of the year are being missed. Every thing looks different when you add snow to it. The peaks are more beautiful, the crisp morning air is refreshing and there’s nothing like the hearing crunch of snow under your shoes.

Sure it’s cold and that first taste of the cold stings. But, the body is one incredible adaptive machine. We generally get past the initial shock within 5-10 minutes and start shedding layers within 30 minutes. I’m always surprised just how much the body heats up. Even in the teens you’ll be surprised how little gear you need if you’re hiking or running.

1947627_10203611660997861_840369565_nDid I mention layers. Absolutely critical to dress in layers. Leave your cotton at home! Depending on the temperatures and where you’ll be plan on a wicking layer (synthetic or wool), an insulating layer and some type of wind protection. Especially if you’re like me and you head to the alpine environment. Don’t forget to hydrate, we sweat more than we think when it’s cold.

Don’t imitate a bear and hibernate all winter, get outside and I promise there may be some magic around the next corner.

See you on the trails!



Some resource for trails:

Top Snowshoe Hikes In Colorado

Colorado’s Best Snowshoeing Trails

Snowshoe Routes: Colorado’s Front Range 2nd Edition

Snowshoeing Colorado, 3rd Ed.