In an interview with one of Aspen’s long-time coaches, the native Australian, Ted Keith lamented – in the opinion of this reporter – the lack of exercise in a large part of the population over the past year. How many people have complained in the past few months about gaining 10 to 20 pounds during the COVID-19 pandemic? It is wise wisdom that the older you get, the harder it is to get back into a healthy routine. It takes patience and self-discipline in losing the fat we have gained as well as building muscle that we have lost.

That said, it’s easy to pack the pounds with quarantine at home within walking distance of the refrigerator and liquor cabinet. The havoc the pandemic wreaked over our survival, health, and financial livelihood has exacerbated many of the less healthy habits of the population. Even normally active people were scared of going to the gym – or even being able to do so to ensure public health shutdowns – and the air quality in the valley banned many outdoor activities due to last year’s fires. Even without contracting the disease caused by the coronavirus, people had to worry between immobility, stress, loss, depression, isolation, or claustrophobia.

However, Keith said each has an opportunity to realign the priorities. Keeping fit and playing outside is a top priority for most Colorado residents and visitors.

In just a few sessions with Keith through Jean-Roberts Gym in Aspen, I saw his unique approach to physical and mental fitness. Don’t be fooled by the warm, good-humored personality and lovable Australian accent – he’s strict in his coaching, and that goes for clients, whether they’re eight or 80, professional athletes or recreational athletes, or no athletes at all.

“I teach movements. I don’t teach exercises, ”he said. “It’s about shocking the body. The more varied the training, the faster the results. “

Keith’s theory is that there are seven parts to physical fitness: muscle strength; Muscle endurance; Attitude; Flexibility; Balance; cardiovascular; and nutrition.

“If you are missing any of these areas, you are not fit,” he said.

Keith is a firm believer in functional exercise. It’s not about being able to lift thousands of pounds over your head (unless that’s your preferred competition) or having the biggest, plumpest biceps or benching a Buick – or even those smallest waist and thickest to have large glutes. Keith wants to help his clients perfect a movement that mimics life. While working with people who seek physical beauty, athletic performance, rehabilitation, strength and cardio training, and injury prevention training, he never works with injuries. He prefers to work “around injuries,” he said. Keith likes to reach out of the box and really focus on moving, starting with something as basic as posture.

To this end, he shared how he had worked with an elderly woman with debilitating arthritis that prevented her from kneeling in church to pray. After working with her for months in the whirlpool at JR’s gym, doing strength training and strength building, she was finally able to kneel down on her own and get up again almost effortlessly.

“It’s not the guy with the most toys who wins. It’s the guy who’s still able to use them all, ”Keith quipped.

Although he’s not a psychiatrist, physical fitness and mental health still go hand in hand, Keither said, an endorsement that shows in his approachable, personable, and patient dealings with his clients.

In addition to the Jean Robert Gym in Aspen and the Willits Center, which offers short-term memberships to long-term residents in town, Keith also works out in local Aspen parks at his home gym in Basalt and some of his customers’ homes.

Keith is certified by the American Council for Exercise and is a specialist in postural mobility. He attends continuing education courses annually to keep up with the latest fitness and nutrition trends.

“When you exercise, do it for you,” he said. “Make sure you remember that.”

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