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Meet the neighbors: Backcountry CrossFit

by | October 13th, 2014

On the owner’s bio page of this nearby Crossfit gym, BackCountry resident Steve Hartle has wife Ashley casually draped over his shoulders. Yep, this guy is fit. Not too surprising, since he’s a former Division I All-American college wrestler. And co-owner Ashley has competitive gymnastics, running, and cheerleading in her own resume, by the way.

Steve and Ashley Hartle Backcountry Crossfit

Photo courtesy of Backcountry Crossfit

But these days, their passion lies in a 13,500-square-foot gym just five minutes away from their BackCountry home. For their many—and growing—clients, Backcountry CrossFit is changing bodies…and lives.

“Everyone changes in some regard,” Steve tells us. “I’ve seen people’s self-confidence take off once they start completing the workouts and making progress. I’ve seen people lose 100 pounds. Once you start working out at this level of intensity, you tend to start cleaning up your diet too. It makes you want to get better in every way.”

So what is CrossFit, exactly? This extremely popular form of fitness training focuses on constantly varying the types and durations of movements to keep your body off-balance and prepared for anything. It’s a daily, changing concoction of endurance, weightlifting, gymnastics, and high-intensity cardio. “We’ll mix up heavy, light, long, short, body weight, strength, weights, and other apparatuses so the body just doesn’t adapt,” says Steve. Although it’s an intense form of exercise, it’s also modifiable to all, whether you’re a former college athlete or an out-of-shape exercise newbie.

Highlands Ranch Herald Robbie Wright

Photo by Robbie Wright, courtesy of Highlands Ranch Herald

It’s also a group activity in which you’ll be coached (by a fleet of full-time trainers—unique to this gym) and cheered on by your fellow CrossFitters. This summer, that bonding through sweat culminated in a group of seven Crossfit clients competing at the Reebok CrossFit Games in California, a worldwide competition to “find the fittest on Earth.” More than 45 athletes from the gym went to support the team, which finished 15th out of 33.

The Hartles’ path to owning a CrossFit gym traces back to Steve’s coaching at other facilities…and in their own BackCountry garage. Steve started training neighbors at their request, then moved to a warehouse and then opened the gym. BackCountry itself has proven a good place for working on his fitness as well. You can frequently spot Steve out on the trails in a 20-lb. weighted vest, stopping occasionally to fire off a round of sit-ups or burpees. “We love BackCountry,” he says. “We moved here four years ago. We have two young boys and wanted more yard, a cul-de-sac, and a gated community. The views and trails are amazing and the people are great.”

And many of them are making their way to his gym. Unlike some other, more hardcore CrossFit gyms, his “is not intimidating,” he says. “This place fits Highlands Ranch. People get nervous because they’ve heard about the intensity, but we make it as encouraging and positive as possible. The biggest obstacle is stepping through the door. Once you’re here, we’ll take good care of you.”

Know of other businesses owned by BackCountry residents? Let us know and your business could be profiled on this blog. Email to connect.

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