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Getting Functionally Fit

If you’re a Northside resident like me, there’s a good chance you love living so close to all the great things Denver has to offer. You likely also love getting away to the mountains! I sure do.

What you may not realize is, whether you’re staying here or heading up to a higher elevation, you have lots of opportunity to get in some fitness that will help in your everyday life. In fact, almost any kind of activity provides a level of “functional fitness”—fitness that you can use every day. 

September has provided the perfect example.

First was the crazy Labor Day snowstorm. My husband and I spent nearly all of Monday building a massive structure in our yard to cover as many vegetables and plants as possible. I’m talkin’ something that was maybe 10×20 complete with poles, stakes, tarps – the whole nine yards.

It was just the two of us. I’m about five feet tall; my husband is six feet. I had to go above and beyond to lift things to an even height, push crazy hard to get cross-beams in place, and keep going even when I was exhausted because the snow was coming whether or not I was too worn out to keep building.

We got it done and saved everything, even the tomatoes! I truly don’t think I could have kept up my half of the building if not for all the work we do every day to enhance our functional fitness, like gardening, running, and even pushing a little harder at the gym. 

Pushing, pulling, lifting, stamina – functional fitness!

Then we went up to Crested Butte for a mini vacation. Saturday was a hike to views. Since it had snowed during the week, the trails were a crazy muddy mess.

For the hike up, most of our steps were sideways, like walking up between two walls, because the trail was so muddy; one step onto the trail and we were sure to slip and fall.

Back down? WAY harder. Every step required planning, and a laser focus on balance and stability. I successfully navigated Mud Trail almost the entire hike, then … lost my traction and fell into what was essentially a mud pit. 

BUT, thanks to all the running and walking I do around Rocky Mountain Lake and Berkeley Lake, I was able to find solid footing, gain balance, stabilize, get back up, and complete the hike successfully, uninjured and unscathed.

Dexterity, balance, stability, stamina – functional fitness!

We all know, on some level, that working out—walking, running, biking, going to the gym—provides far more than just a workout. As we get older, the “functional fitness light” that shines at the end of every workout shines even brighter when we’re not actually working out, but when we’re living our day-to-day lives. 

So, next time you’re on the fence about going for a walk, run, or bike ride—or taking a class at the gym—think beyond that one hour of your day to the next day or the next weekend when you’ll tap directly into that functional fitness to play with your kids, crush a challenging hike, accomplish a home project, or just be a dramatically more fit human. 

The functional fitness you gain during that hour will last for decades. 

Caryn Fox is a Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach at Vantage Movement, a Wellness Collaborative in Wheat Ridge, CO. She is also a musician, blogger and two year resident of Denver’s Northside. You can reach her at

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