This was an interview between Pete Beuth and Craig Weber at a local microbrewery in Littleton, Colorado. Enjoy!
Craig is a humble member and devotee of Manic Training. Intent on enjoying the outdoors and his personal time, he can always be found with his loyal companion Levi (Golden Retriever) in tow. While life can be complicated, adventurous, stressful, productive, and frustrating, when it comes to time outdoors with man’s best friend, it can only be happy and satisfying.
So Craig, we know you best as the guy who is always out running, hiking, etc with his faithful Golden Retriever. Can you tell us a bit more about your athletic background and how you got to where you are now?
Ha! Athletic background? For starters, I was really small growing up. Like 120 lbs as a senior in high school small. I played multiple sports, but was never really good at any of them. Wrestling? Wasn’t good. Baseball? Wasn’t good.
As I got into college and then grad school I got more into individual sports such as climbing, skiing and hiking on my own, and kinda adopted a Buddhist outlook – “Pain is inevitable, suffering is voluntary.” I got into distance running around 1983/1984. My first marathon I ran under 3 hours. I ran a 36 minute 10K at one point. I was pretty fast in my early 20’s.
After school I moved to California and became more of a beach bum slob. Lot’s of parties. Was going to the gym just to try to “bulk up” because I was on the beach. More of a pure vanity thing.
Things began to change in 1988 when I married the love of my life, Deborah. We’ll be married 31 years this year. We had our first child, a son, Taylor, in 1989. That same year, my mother died of cancer @ age 52. That left a hole and caused me a lot of introspection. We left Los Angeles and moved to Colorado in 1993. Much of the next few years went by living the “suburban life” with 2 more children, daughters, Morgan and Reagan.
Things changed drastically in 1999….
Before we get into these drastic changes, we want to ask you “What brought you into Manic Training? What keeps you coming here? And what would you tell other folks your age who are looking at their fitness options?”
Before my beginning at Manic, my fitness and workouts weren’t focused… I ran quite a bit, lifted a few weights, but never did anything worthwhile or truly productive to help my fitness as I aged. I thought all I do is run a bit, bike a little, but don’t do anything full body. I went to 24 Hr Fitness for a while. How pathetic! I never did anything worthwhile. I’d find a machine, say “that looks fun”. Do it a little, then move along. Nothing was ever done with a purpose.
It was at that point that I found Manic Training while searching Google under “HIIT gyms”. It seemed great, in that it was halfway between work and home. My first workout was EYE-OPENING. Luckily, I had discovered early in life that I had one possible advantage over my peer group in that while I’ve never been great at any one thing or sport, I’m pretty good at being uncomfortable for long stretches of time, and I don’t mind getting wiped out or exhausted. It simplifies life in those moments. From a workout standpoint, Manic training was right up my alley. It’s your own experience, but in a group setting. Meeting Pete sealed the deal.
So, now that we see how and why you got into Manic Training and why you immediately thrived here, can you tell us more about the big change in your life that happened in 1999? It seems to lead right up to your start at Manic Training very well…
In 1999, one of my buddies, living in Anchorage Alaska called me and asked if I wanted to go climb Denali. Wait what?, I mean sure! This got me laser-focused on getting fit with only 1 year to train. I trained on Long’s Peak, joined the climbing club in Estes Park, at the Colorado Mountain School. I learned to ice climb, learned mountaineering skills. Not to mention, I began running my ass off again. There were three of us making the attempt, and as the novice, I was afraid of holding the group back, so I was training hard, and staying focused so that I wouldn’t be the “weak link” of the group. In May 2000 I managed to summit along with one other in our group, and from that point I made it imperative to keep fit. There were several other adventures and climbs mainly in South America, but in 2004 I stopped with the extreme stuff to spend more time with my 3 kids, as my wife was increasingly concerned about what would happen if I were involved in a major incident.
As you are aware, I’m always on an adventure with my dog, Levi. But what you don’t know is that before him, I had another awesome 4-legged companion named Kody. We did a lot of climbing together. He was an Aussie Shep – Golden Retriever mix. We’d go on a huge hike up a 14er, and he’d come down off the scree slopes with his paws all ripped up, and go jump into the stream to relieve the pain. He had kind of a Buddhism mentality too (pain is inevitable, suffering is voluntary). He was awesome, and I was devastated when he passed. I wasn’t sure I could ever have a dog again, and running and climbing wasn’t the same. During the time that Kody was around, I’d also dabbled in a few other hobbies including paragliding, got my pilot’s license, kayaking, road biking, sprint triathlons, etc.
So, after all that you had done and that you went through with Kody, what made you get another dog, and how did it end up being the awesome Levi that we all know so well?
Believe it or not, my wife Deborah and daughter Morgan were at a mall, and they saw a litter of puppies in the window of a pet store. They determined that they “had” to save one from that place, and that I “had” to have one. They came home with the Levi. I wasn’t so sure, but we all know how that turned out. He’s become my best friend. I started enjoying trail runs again.
A couple years later I had decided “I’m going to do an Ultra”, and so I signed up for a “beginner” 50 mile race at Chatfield Reservoir. It was 4 laps, 12.5 miles each lap. After about 36 miles I started questioning my sanity! After the Ultra I tapered my training down and began casual trail running with Levi. It was also that that point that my athletic and adventure focus began to shift once again…
So at this point, you are in your early 50s, and you’ve recently gotten your second dog, Levi, who is still with us today…what is the big shift that you are referencing?
Throughout my life I’ve felt privileged to have the means to view living from “different perspectives” whether that be from a paraglider looking down on the earth, or from behind a scuba mask deep down in the water, from the top of a mountain on a mountaineering expedition, or freezing, or terrified, or any other of the interesting adventures that I was fortunate enough to try. I work in an office, a wholly unimpressive existence when compared to the “edgy perspectives” that I valued so much. Ultimately, however, I began to consider that I was being “selfish” by chasing all of these individual pursuits and adventures. Throughout all of this I’ve been forever grateful to my wife, Debbie and kids for putting up with me.
Now, with Levi as my new adventure companion, and my age speeding towards 60, I’ve mellowed a lot with respect to high maintenance adventuring. We started running together in 2011. We do weekly 10-12 mile runs all winter together, and much shorter in the summer due to the heat. We like Kite Lake, outside of Alma, where we can summit four 14ers in a day- Lincoln, Democrat, Cameron and Bross. The miles of terrain we’ve covered together is awesome!
Levi likes everything I like, but he has a few “quirks”. For example, he HATES riding in cars, he can’t walk across a bridge (he’ll find a way around), and he’s very wary of stairs. We share such a cool bond. In 9 years, we’ve probably averaged close to 500 miles per year. Often times, I let him decide which way to turn when we come to a split in the trails.
Three years ago, Levi blew his ACL while running through a snowbank. I took him in, and in dogs its called the CCL (Canine Cruciate Ligament), and it was completely torn. So, he had what is called a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Operation), which is where they cut off part of his tibia bone, reposition it, and screw it back together with steel pins, to reduce the stress on his ligaments and knee in general.
I was sitting in the vet’s office in tears, wondering if I’d hurt him forever, and if he’d ever be able to run again. It ended up being about a 6-month recovery for him. Luckily, he recovered well and we’ve since been able to resume our trail runs and hikes.
All of that brings us to today, with Craig, a member at Manic Training, and Levi, his trusty companion who often hangs out outside the gym, watching us while we all work. (Especially watching Craig while he works).
Like I said, “I think (tell myself) I manage being uncomfortable, and embrace pain” better than some. But every Manic morning I still feel anxiety, as I often arrive early to see what’s going on in the gym before my class. I drive by slowly, peering in, and my anxiety kicks up a couple notches. But I always go in. I’m introverted and not much of socializer, not good at small talk, but I enjoy the atmosphere and people that are at Manic (we’re too exhausted for talking!). I like everyone in the classes, and constant encouragement from friends I’ve made like Rachel Short and Jesse Adamy. They’re always good for at least one high five, mid-workout, no matter how uncomfortable they both are. I love the people at Manic Training! You and Scott are fantastic trainers with great wit and humor. This gym is unique and special because it’s owner (you) is heavily vested in the success of the business and the clients. Its class based…individually driven, but motivational by working out with others. It’s not just a “workout of the day” where you come in and do it on your own. There are others, right there with you, in the moment, making it worth it. It’s much more stimulating.
With all that being said, the true uniqueness lies in the fact that we do the workouts inside, but take part in so many outdoor events and that, to me, is super cool.
Craig, is it true that you have a new tradition over the last two years that you intend to continue?
Yes, my birthday is in January. Two years ago, after watching the “penalties” inflicted on birthday members, I decided that rather than having the coaches at Manic dream up a painful something “extra” at the end of a workout, I was going to start a different custom. So instead, I come in and do the 5am workout, and then hang around and repeat the same workout at 605am with the rest of my friends. That’s my present to myself – “Pain is inevitable, suffering is voluntary.” It’s been a valuable outlook throughout my life and definitely applies to Manic.
A closing note, things I think:
*Pain is inevitable, suffering is voluntary.”
“Be nice to people. I don’t care how smart you are if you aren’t nice.”
My email signature: “Craig – start out slow & taper off – Weber”
Craig, thanks for taking your time to tell us all about your fascinating past and path into and through the doors at Manic Training. We look forward to many more adventures with you and Levi in the days, months, and years to come.
How Do Fitness Trackers Impact Fitness?
Activity trackers have been around for a decade, with early versions such as the original Fitbit worn clipped to the waist. They have come a long way since then, and their popularity has only increased as they have become more technologically advanced. Now many trackers, usually worn on the wrist, can make phone calls, send and receive texts, and much more.
If you take a look at Manic Training members at our Highlands Ranch gym, it seems that almost everyone has a Fitbit, Apple watch, or some other type of gadget on their wrist.
But what impact, if any, do fitness trackers have on your fitness? Let’s take a look.
#1—Fitness Trackers Can Motivate
Let’s face it: Many of us lead a pretty sedentary life. Not even a Fast Friday Manic Training workout can counteract the damage we might be doing to our bodies by spending most of our time sitting at the computer. (As “they” say, sitting is the new smoking.) Fitness trackers, however, can be set up to remind us to get up and move at regular intervals. Keeping track of your steps each day to reach that ubiquitous number of 10,000 is also a good thing.
#2—Fitness Trackers Can Help You Set Measurable Goals
If you’re coming off the couch into the fitness world, a fitness tracker can be a great way to help you set goals that are actually achievable. You may not be a top-notch athlete after a month, but you might hit 5,000 or 10,000 steps for the first time. This is a great way to establish good lifestyle habits.
#3—Fitness Trackers Can Help You Monitor Your Health
These days, many doctors are even recommending mobile health technology as a way to track resting heart rate, sleep cycles, calorie burn, and other data. Although trackers aren’t 100 percent accurate, they can detect trends that provide useful information to the wearer as well as medical professionals. (Some people even claim that activity trackers helped save their lives: Read here.)
If you are looking for more motivation to improve your fitness, bring yourself and your fitness tracker to Manic Training, your Highlands Ranch gym. In addition to Highlands Ranch, we have locations in Steamboat Springs, Fort Collins, and East Greenwich and Wakefield, RI. All offer a free week trial.
Member Spotlight on John Newman: Youth Coach, Financial Professional, and Special Needs Parent
If there is one thing you can say about the 5am crew at Manic Training Highlands Ranch, it’s that they are driven. Plenty of people cannot fathom getting up at that hour to do anything—let alone coming to a Highlands Ranch gym where you are more than likely going to have your butt handed to you.
Longtime Manic member John Newman is one of those driven folks. This fifty-something Denver native does his best to bring his A game to each workout, although he admits that it doesn’t always happen. That’s where the group fitness dynamic comes into play because when the person sweating next to you is working hard, you are just naturally going to push yourself just a little bit more.
Recently, as part of the Manic podcast series, Coach Scott Jones sat down with John to give members an opportunity get to know him a bit better. After all, there isn’t a lot of conversation happening at the 5am class—unless it’s Coach Pete Beuth advising you on how you can enhance your partner’s workout experience or telling you to quit leaning.
When your fellow class members are giving a workout their all, you quickly learn what kind of people they are—but you don’t get to know a lot of “data” about their lives. That’s where the podcast series comes in. And here are some of the highlights of this one.
Plenty of Manic members are involved with sports outside of the gym in some capacity—whether they are participants, competitors, or coaches. John, the father of four, has been coaching for years. He and his wife Stacy are preparing for their youngest to finish up high school next year, so this summer will be his last as a youth coach.
The basic tenets he tries to instill in the kids he coaches pertain to Manic members when they come to the gym:
As a financial professional, John has worked his way up the ladder at the firm he started with fresh out of college at the tender age of 22. Spending 33 years at the same company—through more than one buyout—is somewhat unique in this day and age, and John is grateful for the experience. He says it’s been a great ride that has brought a lot of consistency to his family life.
He attributes his success in part to being willing—eager, even—to step out of his comfort zone and seeking out opportunities that scared him. (Kind of like a Manic Training workout!)
John and his wife have three sons and one daughter—Kyle, Jack, Brett, and Kelsey. All of their kids are special, but 21-year-old Jack has special needs that require a family commitment to his care. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when he was an infant, Jack’s condition has had a profound impact on John and the rest of his family.
John says that the physical part of meeting his son’s needs makes a Manic membership “almost a requirement.” He credits a lot of the movements in a typical workout with keeping him strong enough to care for his son as needed.
Find out more about John and his family by listening to him and Scott talk; you can find the entire podcast here.
If you want to find out more about the great community at this Highlands Ranch gym (as well as our other locations in Fort Collins and Steamboat, CO; and East Greenwich and Wakefield, RI) and unique workouts of Manic Training, sign up here for a free week.
Starting any journey is wrought with unknowns—and that includes starting your fitness journey. Whatever the catalyst that put you on this path—an unexpectedly high number on the scale, finding yourself uncomfortably out of breath after playing with your kids, or any other reason—you know you want to take it. So where do you start?
Certainly a Google search of “fitness classes” is one way to proceed. But keep these three tips in mind as well.
#1—Find a Workout Regimen You Can Stick With
You don’t need to spend hours at the gym, and you don’t need to do things you hate. In fact, you are more likely to stick with something if you like it. The fitness classes at Manic Training, for example, are designed to be taken three times a week, and there is a different workout every other day. You’ll never get bored, and your muscles will never get complacent.
#2—Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People
Group fitness classes can be particularly motivating because you are surrounded by people who are going through the same thing you are. Everyone is at a different point in their own fitness journey, but there is something special about sharing it with others. It is also easier to be accountable!
If you are truly seeking a lifestyle change, a place like Manic Training also offers plenty of extracurricular activities to keep you active—and social. Organized group activities are on the calendar frequently and include things like hikes, runs, rides, and SUP.
#3—Stick to the Plan
It’s a marathon not a sprint. You didn’t become overweight and/or out of shape overnight, and you won’t change dramatically within a couple of weeks. Consistency is key.
Are you ready to start your fitness journey? You don’t have to go it alone! Join us in Highlands Ranch or at any of our locations for a free week of fitness classes by signing up here.
What’s the Story Behind “Train In to Adventure Out”?
If you’ve ever tried Manic Training, you already know there isn’t anything typical about this gym in Highlands Ranch (with other Colorado locations in Steamboat and Fort Collins as well two in Rhode Island: East Greenwich and Wakefield). If you’ve never tried Manic Training, here’s what you should know about our philosophy and getting “ready for life.”
What Is Manic Training?
Manic Training program is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout developed to improve functional fitness. The programming is designed to increase strength, power, work capacity, and durability to tackle real world challenges through exercises of purposeful variety. Manic Training doesn’t just prepare you to excel at one sport: It prepares you to excel at any of them.
The sessions are intense and challenging to everyone on many levels. Manic Training brings programmed sessions into a hybrid style of training.
The strength and conditioning aspects of many sports have been aligned to bring challenging, beneficial workouts to our members. These sessions use full body workouts and compound movements utilizing free weights, medicine balls, sandbags, kettlebells, Airdyne bikes, rowers, SkiErgs, ropes, push sleds, and many bodyweight exercises. Three different workouts each week are presented, in many different formats, across all planes of motion.
Who Should Do Manic Training?
We can’t emphasize this enough: The Manic Training programming is designed for ANYONE and EVERYONE with the desire to better their health and lifestyle. Whether you are a teenager, a working mom or dad, or a retiree, and regardless of your fitness level, Manic Training is for you. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or a bonafide couch potato, Manic Training is for you. The program can be modified as necessary so that you receive the maximum benefit from each and every workout.
The Manic goal is to program workouts that challenge and benefit every participant in all aspects of athleticism, to achieve long-term goals, and to improve fitness and health. Manic Training prepares you to feel better, to perform better, and to be stronger—from the core out!
What Else Does Manic Have to Offer?
Sure, our training is unique—our members will tell you there is nothing quite like a Manic workout. But we are also a community. From the camaraderie that is built during the workout when you are sweating with like-minded people, to the friendships that are created at a Dudes and Brews evening or a Ladies Night, we know how to have fun.
We are also a community of people who are committed to fostering a lifestyle of outdoor adventures and experiences. To that end, we socialize outdoors, and there are always organized group activities on the calendar, including hikes, runs, rides, SUP, and other outdoor mayhem for our race team, such as Ragnar and Spartan.
This where the “train in to adventure out” mantra comes into play. After all, it’s not all about what you can do in the gym but what you can do outside the gym for whatever life throws at you—whether it’s hauling in groceries from the car or hiking a fourteener.
We are vested to be a leader in training for LIFE! Join us at our gym in Highlands Ranch or any of our locations for a free week by signing up here.
If you have been in Denver for a while, you know this already: It’s been a tough winter. Those of use who have lived on the Front Range for more than a few months have grown accustomed to lots of 50-degree sunny days in January and February, with a few days of 70 degrees tossed in for good measure. We may not be experiencing the polar vortex the Midwest and Northeast are experiencing, but that doesn’t make this any more difficult to take.
The cold and snow make it tough to get to the nearest gym in Highlands Ranch sometimes, but here are some tips for staying motivated for workouts when the weather is cold:
- Try to put some variety into your workouts. If you lift weights as part of a routine, try to change it up a bit. If you are used to free weights, try to work out on some machines. Don’t blow off your usual workout structure—just try something new.
- Work out with a friend. If you normally train alone and your resolve to get your workouts in is waning, partner with a friend to shake things up a bit. And if you’re smart, you’ll find a friend who is more experienced than you are, and you could learn a thing or two about techniques or workout variations.
- Set a new goal. Whether it’s mastering the 5k run or doing 10 consecutive pull-ups or whatever your personal goal is, work toward it during these months.
- Try out a new gym. You don’t need to leave behind your old gym but check out a new place as a guest or try a new group fitness class just to keep things interesting and fresh. (If you haven’t tried Manic Training yet, you can try it for a week for free!)
- Challenge yourself by setting specific goals for each workout. Visualize yourself just plowing through your workout. Plan your reps and sets ahead of time, and get it done!
- Take advantage of fitness events to help keep you motivated. Manic Training offers great ways to stay connected to the nearest gym in Highlands Ranch with some fun things to do with fellow fitness-minded people.
- Think about how great you’ll feel when you’re done. Studies show that exercise can help boost your mood and even keep long-term depression at bay. Even a bad workout is better than no workout!
You can do this! Keep your training extra consistent during the winter because spring is just around the corner.
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