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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre Makes a Fine Outdoor Gym

This story originally ran in The Denver Post on May 22, 2012.

“Working out at Red Rocks is a lot more fun than a gym,” says my workout buddy, Brett Heinzerling, on our first trip up of the season. “Between the view and the chance to work out in the sun, it’s a lot more motivating.”

Red Rocks Amphitheatre is not only one of the best places anywhere to see a concert, it is also one of the top spots to exercise.

Thousands of people make the trip to work out on the rocks each week. I’m one of them. I love getting my fill of climbing stairs surrounded by stunning scenery.

Well, I do … after the fact. Staring up at nearly 70 rows of bleachers at the start is a bit daunting. But it’s worth it.

“I would love to go a few times a week, but between work and the drive, it’s not quite practical,” says Heinzerling.

He’s not the only one I regularly see, either. Dozens of faces are familiar after a few weeks, and I’m remembering more each trip.

“Yeah, we’re usually here six days a week,” say two women I see climbing the large planter boxes filled with trees.

They smile at me as they continue on, not wanting more of a distraction to their rhythm.

Brett and I originally started by just walking the outside stairs from the stage to the top. But as we watched other people work out, we became more creative ourselves and found new, more torturous ways to reach the top.

Formal exercise groups meet at various times during the week. One boot-camp group — the HealthOne fitness Challenge — (controversially) takes over the amphitheatre for an hour each Saturday morning.

I ask Brett, in between my huffing and puffing up the stairs, if it bothers him that Red Rocks is closed at that time.

“Not really. It’s only one hour, and it’s not like it keeps me from working out. But if they took up more time, then I’d have a problem.”

We finish another trip to the top. “How many are we on?” I ask, gasping for air.

I don’t mind that I can hardly breathe. I’m getting a good workout in, the atmosphere is amazing, and everyone we see is friendly, always saying hello with a smile as we pass them.

Brett doesn’t remember the number, nor do I. So we count on our fingers, mumbling the route we took each time — this one we ran back-and-forths, that time straight up, and that one was “snakes.”

Ultimately we agree we’re at six. At least it sounds like a good number.

Today I’m feeling good, strong. Our weekly routines are starting to pay off. But I really have no fitness goal. I simply want to find a way to enjoy myself while exercising.

I’m not an overachiever like Brett. He’s looking to be a faster runner, which is why he sprints up the bleachers ahead of me — something that would put me in cardiac arrest.

“My goal is to run a few half-marathons as fast as possible,” he says. “And working out at Red Rocks is helping me get there.”

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  1. Hiking at Red Rocks | Jason's Travels - July 24, 2013

    […] lived in Colorado for thirteen years, but not once have I gone hiking at Red Rocks. I’ve done the stairs bunches of times. I’ve even hit the trails at nearby Matthews / Winters Park. But not once […]

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