Participate in Life!

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

cathedral-rocksI recently returned from our annual Dad/Girls trip. These are annual trips I take with just my daughters, Katelyn and Abby, that allow me to spend focused time with just them without life’s distractions. Deb does the same type of trip in July. This year we ventured a little further than usual to Sedona, AZ and the Grand Canyon. If you’ve not been, it’s a must do trip. I’m not one usually at a loss for words, but Sedona is a tough place to put into words. There’s a presence there like I’ve felt nowhere else. Likewise, the Grand Canyon is so immense that the brain can’t comprehend it.

While we were hiking the first day it hit me that trips like these are thebest reason to be in good shape. Because when you can do things like hike, bike, travel with your kids or with a friend or spouse you are Participating in Life! In doing so, you’ll experience a deep peace and satisfaction that cannot be duplicated in any other way. The memories and sites we experienced on our trip will be with us forever.

One of the hikes that stands out was our hike up into the Cathedral Rocks, one of the vortex sites. While it’s only about a mile to the top, it’s straight up the side of a mountain, all rocks, with 1076’ feet of elevation gain in that short distance. Once up there we hiked and scrambled around the rocks with ever-changing views.

While on this hike we came across a family that did not make it to the top. The Mom and kids (probably in their late teens) were both overweight and sadly the Mom was unable to even start the hike due to sore knees and steps she needed to go down. The kids started the hike, but did not seem to make the top. When we carry extra weight on our bodies, it prevents us from truly Participating in Life. I know, I was there 15 years ago, weighing 30 pounds more than I do now. There’s no way I could have done the hikes and bike rides I do today. If I had not lost the weight years ago, I can’t imagine how many of the amazing memories I have with Deb and the kids would have been lost.

You may remember we profiled Paul Colangelo’s amazing weight-loss journey in January. Paul continues to expand his limits and recently completed the Elephant Rock 27 mile off-road mountain bike ride. Afterwards he sent Deb and I an email titled Redefining Physical Limits talking about the positive impacts of being healthier. Paul is now able to participate in activities that before would have be impossible 21 months ago.

Losing weight, lowering high blood pressure or getting diabetes under control is incredible. But along the journey the true gem is being able to Participate in Life and create experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

Give us a call to find out how your can get in the best shape of your life and start Participating in Life.


Ready For a Change?

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

As we head toward the New Year, many people start to think about changing or improving their lives. January 1st starts a clean slate for us all and it is a great time for introspection and motivation. How do you want to be different in the coming year? What would you like to improve about your life? We routinely work with clients who are wanting to transition into a healthier lifestyle. They express that they want to eat healthier, feel stronger and look better. An important point that we tell them to consider is that they must prepare to change. It is difficult under the best of circumstances to change one’s habits. But one thing that will give you a shot at being successful is to prepare. How do you do this?

First, it helps to define where you are today and where, exactly, is it that you want to go? Define the gap between here and there. Writing it down will help to articulate the specifics and to get things clear in your head. Define your motivators for wanting to achieve this change. It also helps to document the challenges you may have in your way. As you list the challenges, also list several strategies to overcoming these challenges. If you get stumped, ask family and friends for help. Second, create specific steps that you are ready to do to start the process of change. Think small changes and baby steps. Visualize yourself doing the actions it will take to get you to your goal. Also, visualize what it will look like when you have achieved success. Third, measure your progress and adapt to changing life situations as you go. And don’t forget to reward yourself as you obtain your goals!

One of the most important areas in your plan should be to define your support system. This is your group of family, friends and knowledgeable professionals who have a clear understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and want to help you get there. Also figure out if there are saboteurs in your life: those people who do NOT want you to succeed. Unfortunately, some of your closest friends and relatives can be your most daunting saboteurs. It takes courage and real commitment to realize that and decide that you are going to change anyway. Figure out how you will deal with those people NOW. Do not wait until you are actively working hard on your personal change. You must be prepared beforehand.

December is the perfect month for organizing how you will change. In the last week of the month, as the hectic schedule of the past few weeks begins to wind down, take some time to ponder what you want your life to be like in the next year. Some time invested now in planning will pay dividends down the line as you execute a well-organized, supported plan for life change.

Top Ten Ways to Avoid Fitness Burn-out

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

It’s wonderful when you can make fitness an ongoing and important priority in your life. As the months (and years) go by, you may find you get tired and burnt out on your fitness routine. Below are the top ten ways to avoid getting burnt out on working out:

  1. Start with a solid foundation – your fitness activities should be enjoyable and safe for your abilities. One of the quickest ways to burn out is start something too fast or too intense, only to end up sidelined with an injury.
  2. Think about doing multiple activities to work your body in different ways. Doing the same thing over and over is boring and hard on the body. For example, if you are a road cyclist, how about trying mtn biking or running?
  3. Create goals around your fitness activities to keep you motivated and on-track.
  4. Sign up for an event – nothing gets you motivated and focused like signing up for an event. There is something about spending money when signing up for an event that gets you very committed. Check out for events in the Denver area.
  5. Try something new – what have you always wanted to learn? What did you like to do when you were a kid? Harness that passion and try something new – it will feel great to learn a new skill and will jump-start your enthusiasm for movement and fitness.
  6. Change workouts with the season – Hike and bike when it’s warm, changeover to swimming indoors and cross country skiing in the winter; keep things fresh!
  7. Pick up some weights – resistance training will give you more energy to do the things you love (and that’s just one of the many benefits!).
  8. Enlist the help of personal trainer – a good trainer will keep your fitness routine fun and creative by changing things up every 4-6 weeks.
  9. Do it with friends or family – Make it a social occasion with friends, or time to bond with your loved ones and you will remain committed. Plus, it will make your activities seem easier and more fun.
  10. Take planned breaks or a longer hiatus if needed – take a week or two off during the year and just relax. It will do your body AND your mind good. You will return refreshed and ready to hit it hard!
Forget Resolutions! Try Creating Healthy Habits

By Deb Brown, NSCA-cpt, cwc, cns

As we head into February, many people find their motivation to keep their New Year’s resolutions failing. We always encourage our clients to work on healthy habits and behaviors rather than making resolutions. Working on a healthy habit is a longer term proposition; one that requires thought, planning and daily effort. How do you create a healthy habit? Here are the steps we work on with our clients:

  1. Analyze current health behaviors and figure out what you need to change. Pick just one or two behaviors to work on at a time.
  2. Visualize the big picture: what do you want to look like and feel like at your optimal level of health?
  3. Create a goal around the healthy habit you would like to establish. Write the goal down and include the timeframe. Why are you motivated to change? What obstacles might stand in your way and what strategies can you use to overcome them?
  4. Create small, daily tasks that you can do to move forward with creating the habit.
  5. Track your progress and correct as you go; adjust as needed.
  6. Enlist friends and family as your support system.
  7. Once you have some success with creating one healthy habit; move on to the next!

Here is an example from my own life:

I would like to get in the habit of reducing gluten in my diet by 90%. I feel much better physically and mentally when I am not eating gluten, and I have more energy. I also sleep better. The main obstacle standing in my way is just a time issue: I often have to plan special meals that are different from what my family eats. This is simply a matter of making sure I have enough time to plan and cook the meals I need to eat, as well as always have those ingredients on hand. My goal this month is to buy GF bread, waffles and pasta and to use those products instead of the regular ones. I will also order gluten-free options when out at restaurants if possible. Tomorrow, I will eat all GF products and no gluten at all. I will also track my food intake and how this is affecting my energy.

Dave and I have recently launched a brand new app for the iPhone and iPod touch called SnapHabit. Available on the App Store, this app provides a comprehensive framework to support habit change using the process that has worked for our clients for years! For more information, go to or

Give Your Kids the Gift of a Healthy Lifestyle
Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

One of the best gifts you can give your kids is the gift of a healthy lifestyle. This includes healthy eating habits, staying active, and trying new activities. It also means providing space and unstructured time to let kids be kids.

The most important thing you can do to encourage your children to be healthy is to model healthy behaviors yourself. Take a few moments to think about how you live your life. As parents, we are the primary teachers for our children. They learn by watching us and imitating us. What do your actions convey about how you live your life and how your children should live their lives?

A good place to start is to examine what you eat and your attitudes toward food. Healthy eating means choosing a balanced way of eating nutritious foods: lots of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean meat and fish, nuts, and healthy snacks. It also means having a healthy approach to junk food. An occasional fast food meal or bowl of ice cream is o.k. However, if you or your kids are constantly ingesting sugar and fat, there will be both short and long-term negative consequences such as energy swings, a challenged immune system, and a higher risk for chronic disease later in life such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. What you teach them now about eating will have an impact for the rest of their lives, so pay attention to the message you are sending.

Another good behavior to model to children: get moving!! Make fitness a priority in your life and it may just become a priority in your kids’ lives. Try taking up a new hobby together with your child(ren) such as hiking, martial arts or swimming. What do they love to do? What have you always wanted to try but were too afraid? How about trying those activities together? We have a Mom, Dad and teen who workout together in our fitness studio. Not only do they keep each other consistent, but Mom and Dad are helping to lay the foundation for their teen to incorporate healthy habits into her life. Plus, they have a great time and there is lots of laughter during their workouts!

Lastly, don’t forget to allow time for kids to just be kids. Say no to over scheduling your kids in too many activities. Make sure that they do not spend too much time in front of the TV or computer. Given some time and space, their imaginations will kick in and they will think up all kinds of games. Remember, the healthy habits you teach your kids now will help lay the foundation for the rest of their lives. What a beautiful gift to give!

Smart Eating Strategies
Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

Along with a sound fitness program, we educate our clients on the vital role nutrition plays in living a healthy life. This article will educate the reader on nutrition basics and will address some common challenges that we all face in eating healthily.

Our nutrition guidelines come from an excellent book written by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD entitled, Eating on the Run. This book is for those of us who want to eat healthy but have little time and energy to dedicate toward that effort. She puts forth the idea of the “Nutrition 6-5-4-3-2 Countdown”. Her daily recommendations are as follows: “6 servings of whole grains, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, combined (more is better); 4-9 ounces of lean protein, 3 servings of calcium rich foods and 2 servings of fish each week”.

Although those guidelines are straightforward, healthy eating is anything but. With the fast pace of life today, we often perceive that we are too busy/tired/stressed to eat well.

The following are some ideas to help you on the path to healthy eating:

  1. Identify emotional eating: When we get bored, stressed, angry, or frustrated, we often turn to food to fill the void. Work to identify how you feel when you are eating. Figure out triggers and try to avoid them. You may also want to think about substituting other healthier behaviors when the situation arises: deep breathing, a quick walk, or a warm cup of tea.
  2. Identify unhealthy patterns: do you spend a lot of time in the car commuting and end up eating fast food too often? Is there a particular time of day when you find yourself craving sweets or salty foods? Seek to identify your own unhealthy habits and work on prevention.
  3. Plan your nutrition: Most of us plan our days and weeks; why not plan our nutrition? Plan your meals and shop once a week. Pack your lunch for work and bring along healthy snacks wherever you go. If you will be on the road all day, buy a small cooler and keep it stocked with healthy treats. Try to eat every 3-4 hours; this way you will not get overly hungry.
  4. For parents: PLEASE pack your kids a healthy lunch for school. Be a role model for your kids when it comes to healthy eating. Childhood obesity is growing at alarming levels due to the junk they are consuming and an increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Parents, your kids are watching and learning from you…what are you teaching them?

Healthy eating truly does not take a ton of energy – it just takes positive attitude and a willingness to try new healthier behaviors. Try some of these strategies and you will reap the benefits of more energy, less stress and a healthier you!

A Guide on Your Journey Toward Wellness
Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

As a Certified Wellness Coach, it is my privilege to help guide my clients as they make the journey toward wellness. Each person’s journey is unique, but along the way, there are always challenges and triumphs, trials and joys. The journey toward your optimal level of wellness will not always be easy, but it will be rewarding. You may be a little unsure of where or how to start, unsure of how it will all turn out in the end, unsure if you can really do it. It feels safe to stay the same; it’s tough to challenge our comfort levels.

As a wellness coach, my job is to work with you to understand what your wellness vision looks like. It’s a different and unique vision for each of us. Some clients need to focus on weight loss; some clients are working to better manage stress in their lives. Most of my clients are extremely busy and are managing jobs, commutes, kids’ school schedules and activities. It is sometimes tough to make our health a priority in this busy non-stop world, and that is what I help my clients do. Together we will break your goals down to the smallest components and tackle 1 or 2 areas at a time, depending on your level of readiness.

For example, a client, who we will call Jane, wanted to lower her cholesterol so that she would not have to take pills. Her doctor recommended a change in diet and to begin an exercise program. She is a busy working mom with little extra time. The task of lowering her cholesterol seemed monumental to her. She knew that she needed to change how she was eating, incorporate cholesterol-lowering foods into her diet and start exercising. When we started working together, she decided that the one area that she was ready to make a small change in was incorporating more cholesterol-lowering foods into her diet.

She decided that she would try eating oatmeal 3 times a week for 4 weeks. She researched different recipes/toppings and went out and bought all of the ingredients she needed. Each week, as we had our coaching call, I would ask how she did. We would celebrate when she ate the oatmeal 3 or more times. When she did not accomplish that goal, we would discuss what happened, what obstacles she had encountered and how to overcome those. By the 3rd and 4th week, she was consistently eating oatmeal and it is now a part of her diet on most days of the week. Buoyed by this success, she has also added other cholesterol-lowering foods to her weekly diet. The next area she has chosen to focus on is exercise and we are now talking about what kind of exercise she will do, where and when she will do it and how she will fit it in to her already busy schedule. Soon, she will be both eating more cholesterol-lowering foods AND exercising. She is solidly on the path to lowering her cholesterol step by step and achieving her health goals.

Personal change has got to be one of the most difficult journeys we can make. But, if you have a good guide, a partner, who can help lead the way, it becomes not only doable, but incredibly rewarding. You are not in it alone. Rather, you have an ally that can stick by your side and help you celebrate both the large and small successes and work through the challenges. If you are on a journey toward a higher level of wellness and would like a guide to provide support call Deb to find out how coaching can help set you on the right path.

Connect Your Fitness Goals with Your Values for Success
Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

Creating fitness goals is a fundamental part of getting in better shape or training for an event. Having goals can give you a definite focus for your activities and keep you going on those days when your motivation is waning. We have found that the more closely your goals are aligned with your personal value system, the more successful you will be in attaining them.

In creating goals, first seek to understand those things that are important to you: what are your highest values as a person? If family is high on the list, how can you connect your fitness goals to that? How about having more energy to go hiking or biking with the kids? How about being a good role model for your kids by investing time in healthy eating and fitness related activities. Maybe you could engage in fitness activities as a family.

An excellent example of attaching fitness-related goals to personal values is found with our client Cheryl. Cheryl is in her fifties and one of her values in life is spending time outdoors in our beautiful mountains. Hiking and cross-country skiing are integral parts of her life. She thoroughly enjoys these activities and wants to continue doing them injury- free. She trains with us to remain strong, balanced and flexible, thereby enhancing her abilities and increasing her enjoyment of these activities. I anticipate that Cheryl will continue to workout and be active for quite a long period of time since she has such an enjoyment factor with her activities and is deeply motivated to continue.

We have another client who wants to remain active and full of energy in order to play with her grandchildren. Through consistent cardiovascular and strength training exercises, she is now able to keep up with them and still has energy at the end of the day after babysitting them. I also anticipate that she will continue her healthy lifestyle because the benefits she is seeing are attached to one of her most important values: being an active Grandma that participates fully in her grandkids’ lives and activities.

If you are working on fitness goals, it’s a great idea to examine them and see how they connect up with your values as a person. Your chances of success in attaining your goals will increase dramatically.

It’s All About Results!

Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

It’s amazing what working out with weights and doing cardio consistently does for your looks, body shape and energy levels. Even more important, though, is what it can enable you to do. We would like to highlight some of the incredible accomplishments of our diverse clientele.

Our clients’ goals are as diverse as our clientele! Some clients want to lose weight, get stronger or have more energy. They typically see results working with us for 4-6 weeks. But then, because of our business model, they find themselves having fun and enjoying their workouts: they get hooked! This leads to a consistency in their exercise that many have never experienced. This consistency leads to ever greater benefits and becomes a self-perpetuating positive habit in their lives. It becomes a lifestyle. Gwen A. is a great example of a successful weight loss client. Gwen lost 9 pounds in her first 2 months of working with us and is happy about the way her clothes are fitting these days. She has increased energy, is eating better and is tearing it up on the ski slopes as well.

Other clients have very specific goals that they want to obtain: ski all day without getting tired, compete in a Triathlon, manage a chronic disease like fibromyalgia, lower blood pressure. One of our clients, Donna S. came to us over 2 years ago. She expressed an interest in running and ran her first 5K in the summer of 2007. Through much hard work and discipline, this hard-working mother of two, recently ran her first 1/2 marathon. Way to go Donna! Karen F. is a great example of a working-mom-turned-triathlete. This 40- something mother of three works down the hill and manages to stay consistent in her workouts here at the studio. This past summer, she competed in two triathlons. You Go Girl!!

Peter H. is an avid and accomplished skier – and wants to keep it that way. At 60-something, he is a dedicated client who comes in 2 times per week. First hand accounts of Peter’s skiing abilities include the words, “beautiful” and “he makes it looks effortless”. Peter prefers black diamond slopes and really likes skiing in the trees. Our job is too keep him in prime ski conditioning shape and injury free so that he can keep enjoying his passion! Another client who has a passion is Tim S. who is an avid cyclist. He recently rode in the Copper Classic event, which features 3 mountain passes – brutal! Tim accomplished this feat in less than 4 hours. Our clients are continually reaching higher and higher and we are proud to be a part of their efforts and success. Thanks, everyone, for making our work purposeful and fulfilling. We really do love what we do and it’s because of you.

Top Ten Reasons for Getting in Shape this Year
Deb Brown, NSCA Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Wellness Coach

January is one of the most exciting months for the fitness industry. We have all kinds of neat people start training with us during this time. I am often asked if we get many clients who start working out in January, only to lose motivation by March. My answer is an enthusiastic, “NO!”. You see, clients who work out with a personal trainer, give themselves an advantage over working out alone at a gym. The personal trainer provides not only a structured, personalized program, but also on-going support and motivation to help the client achieve his or her goals. When working with a personal trainer, a client typically schedules an appointment with the trainer. Because of this, clients make their appointments and have consistent workouts. This leads to quick and lasting results, which is what people are after in the first place.

As we enter the New Year, it is always a good time to take stock of where you are in your life. Are you feeling and looking the way that you want to? If not, this may be your year to finally get into better shape! January is a wonderful time to start working out: you have plenty of company and it’s the time of year where personal trainers run great specials. We are no exception! (See our ad on this page). Here is our official Top Ten Reasons to get in shape:

  1. If you expend energy to workout, you will get MORE energy in return to do the things you love!
  2. It’s a stressful world out there these days, you have got to take care of your health to meet the demands of it.
  3. Be a great role model for your kids.
  4. Great social opportunities. Meet new people – maybe your neighbors!!
  5. Have better overall health, reduce your risk factors, stay away from the doctors office, manage chronic disease.
  6. You will become stronger, more flexible and have better balance.
  7. Local options: Our studio is conveniently located on 285 in Aspen Park and we have been in business since 1994! There are also a number of other local facilities where you can workout.
  8. It’s affordable. You can typically find a membership plan that meets your budget.
  9. You will look great AND feel great!
  10. You may lose a few pounds and get back into your skinny jeans.