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A Manic Training participant performs a pull-up, just one dynamic move that’s part of the functional fitness program. Photo: Courtesy of Manic Training

Manic Training was born and bred in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, home to 88 winter Olympians and counting — more than any town in North America. Today, snowsports pros like boardercrosser Erin Simmons Nemec, an X Games medalist and mom who also motocrosses for fun now, and Olympic moguls bronze medalist icon Nelson Carmichael use the high-intensity workout to stay fit for the winter (and all the other outdoor sports they continue to chase).

As the ultimate indoor workout cynic, afraid of cult-like gyms or any program that requires more indoor time than out, I had to check out Manic, which just opened a new facility along Colorado’s Front Range in Highlands Ranch and runs two more facilities on the East Coast in Wakefield and East Greenwich, Rhode Island.


Guys and girls work on skier-style upper-body movements. Photo: Courtesy of Manic Training

I quickly found the soul of this highly specialized interval-training program: no names on the wall. No one-upping. Competition is yours alone. While I felt guided and protected from injury as Manic founder Graham Muir, an ex-professional rugby player from New Zealand, tweaked a few of my stances during this fast, fun interval session, it seemed no one else cared about any of my coordination or gym-ignorance issues.

In fact, we all seemed happy go lucky, thinking in unison that this was simply a badass means to an end — to get stronger, more balanced and uber dynamic for the outdoor sports everyone in the room shared an obvious passion for.


Manic Training incorporates weights, resistance, equipment and props for a full-body workout. Photo: Courtesy of Manic Training

The 45-minute class is focused, functional fitness designed to work every part of the body in a powerful, energizing fashion. Exercises are posted on a big chalkboard and are changed up each session to keep the body guessing in all those intentional, muscle-building ways.

Machines and props are set up community style by participants and are mixed to target core, cardio, agility, weight and resistance training across all planes of motion. That includes free weights, medicine balls, sandbags, kettlebells, Airdyne bikes, rowers, SkiErgs, ropes, push sleds and body-weight exercises. Any participant can modify for intensity, mental stamina and weight for a customized experience.

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Who doesn’t want to get ripped for snowsports season? Photo: Courtesy of Manic Training

Injury rates tied to Manic are low, too, because proper form is a huge focus and handled in a healthy, fear-free way. Unlike, say, CrossFit, where external competition is the ultimate motivator, Manic is more about doing you.

After a finale power-rowing set, where Carmichael gave me some gentle pointers, he said with his Olympic days behind him Manic Training simply helps him ski better and longer as he ages. In between runs, you’re sitting on a chairlift, but when you’re ready for the next go-round, your body has to move with short bursts of power to ski effectively.

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Core work is an important part of Manic Training workouts, but the focus is on proper form rather than speed. Photo: Courtesy of Manic Training

Likewise, Simmons Nemec says Manic helps her keep up with her kids in a functional way, but she wishes she had had the workout when training for her head-to-head boardercross world debut, back when she just guessed at what to do in the gym to train for the emerging sport.

She laughs (not completely in jest) that Olympic gold could have been hers with Manic.

So the real shtick? Manic Training isn’t manic at all. It’s more dynamic — an individualized, full-body workout that easily translates to more power, more stamina and more damn fun doing the snowsports we really want to spend time on. The program’s tagline, “Ready for life,” makes total sense.

This workout is about putting in the right effort to see the results in what matters more: playing outside — indefinitely.

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