It was a cool Sunday morning, the sun rising over the mountains, promising a hot day.
I pulled up to Red Rocks, locked my car and headed for the steps leading up to the amphitheater. My legs strained as I climbed the first set of stairs, only 360 more to go! I pushed up the next flight, my head still throbbing from hitting the breweries the night before. I jogged up several more flights and finally arrived at the bottom of the amphitheatre short of breath. Time for the workout to begin!
For those unfamiliar with the venue, Red Rocks is an all-natural, outdoor amphitheater carved out of an enormous red rock formation outside of Morrison, Colorado, about 30 minutes from Denver. The amphitheater was imagined in the early 1900’s and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress administration in the early 1940’s. It has played host to the Beatles, Jimmy Hendrix and the Grateful Dead and is set to host The Lumineers, Odesza, Eric Church and Flume, among many other big names, over the upcoming months. It’s known for its unique and awe-inspiring architecture, co-existence with the natural landscape and impeccable acoustics. With its rich history, architectural and artistic prestige and spectacular incorporation of nature, I can’t think of a more exhilarating place to workout.
Looking up from the base of the amphitheater was an inspiring sight. Hundreds of people worked out in groups and individually, running, squatting and climbing all over the theater’s bleacher seats and towering planter boxes. Prior to arriving I researched fitness classes hosted at Red Rocks and found that there are numerous Denver fitness groups that meet weekly at Red Rocks to workout, and most of them welcome anyone to join free of charge!
Before arriving in Denver, a friend recommended I try out It Burns Joe fitness class hosted for 2-3 hours at Red Rocks every weekend. Upon arriving at Red Rocks, there were so many groups working out I had no idea which group was It Burns Joe, so I asked a girl part of a large group that had just finished spider crawling down 200 steps if she was part of It Burns Joe.
“No, but you should join us!”
The group I worked out with is called Team Bucket List Life. TBLL is a group that meets at Red Rocks to workout on the weekends and also meets up during the week for workouts and other fun activities. Upon my joining the workout, everyone introduced himself or herself to me and immediately welcomed me into the group. I have never met a warmer or more enthusiastic bunch of people. Throughout the challenging workout, which included climbing planter boxes, skipping up the 69 sets of enormous stadium seats and partner squats and pushups, everyone cheered each other on and maintained a positive, uplifted sense of intensity. The sense of camaraderie was absolutely inspiring. One couple actually took turns holding their small daughter on their shoulders while performing the exercises! I finished the workout out of breath and exhausted, but feeling clear-headed and empowered.
Maybe the lack of oxygen in the high elevation theater makes everyone slightly loopy, or perhaps workout-induced endorphin surges leads to joyous over exuberance; maybe the rich musical history of the site has absorbed into the rocks and it’s psychedelic spirit still floats in the surrounding air, but the entire theater vibrates with an intensely positive and enlivening vitality. This vitality, mixed with a strong sense of community and the majestic natural surroundings, makes Red Rocks an uplifting place to visit, and in my opinion one of the best places in the world to workout.
Top 5 Tips for Working out at Red Rocks:
1. Hydrate and Acclimate
Denver is known as the mile high city because it is in fact at an elevation of one mile above sea level, and Red Rocks is at an even higher elevation. For anyone not from the Denver area or anyone living at sea level like I do, it’s crucial that you give yourself at least 1-2 days to acclimate to the change in oxygen levels in the air before pursuing a challenging workout. I arrived on a Thursday and postponed my workout at Red Rocks until Sunday to give myself time to adjust. In addition, the high elevation also means your body needs extra water to stay hydrated. Make sure you hydrate for the days leading up to your workout for maximum performance and to avoid fatigue and injury.
2. Find a Group
Numerous fitness groups meet at Red Rocks to workout on the weekends. I believe joining up with one of these groups, lead by a fitness expert who knows how best to utilize the unique terrain of the amphitheater to construct a challenging and rewarding workout, is the best way to go. Groups that I recommend from my experience working out at Red Rocks:
3. It Burns Joe Fitness
I didn’t get the chance to partake in this workout but from talking to people who have and researching online it is definitely one of the best workouts at Red Rocks.
4. Hot Mamas on the Rocks
I saw Hot Mamas on the Rocks workout in progress while I was working out with TBLL at Red Rocks and have it as a must-do for my next trip to Denver. Everyone in the class is given high tech headphones to be guided by the instructor throughout the challenging two-hour session. The class looked like a lot of fun, and for a little extra motivation, everyone partaking was very attractive and in extremely good shape!
As stated above, I loved working out with this group. They don’t have a website stating a schedule and times so just show up to Red Rocks at 8am on Sunday morning, look for the Team Bucket List Life Flag and introduce yourself!