Editor’s Note: “Shaped By COVID-19” is a weekly series designed to help you stay active while you’re homebound with workouts from some of Denver’s leading fitness and wellness professionals. Got a fitness tip or favorite studio? Email us at digital@5280.com.

The gym: Fitness In The City
Year founded: 2013
The trainers: Stefan Olander and Eric Waller, co-owners
Favorite COVID-appropriate rest day activity: “Now that the weather is cooperating,” Olander says, “a little backyard sun session.”

When the novel coronavirus forced the shuttering of Denver gyms, Fitness In The City found itself in a familiar position: creating workouts with minimal equipment. The seven-year-old studio started in 2011 as an outdoor workout with friends. Sessions focused on functional fitness and typically didn’t require much equipment beyond a patch of grass, maybe a step, or perhaps an exercise band. “It gave us an outlet for people to come together and get moving—a social outlet focused around wellness instead of bars,” says co-owner Stefan Olander.

That group kept growing, though, so in 2013, FITC opened its first brick-and-mortar location in the Golden Triangle, and over the next several years added another in Five Points and partnered with the River Yoga and High Ride Cycle to offer members access to a variety of fitness activities. The workouts remained true to FITC’s goals for functional fitness. While the studios gave trainers more options for the popular Power Hour workouts (full-body routines typically with weights), the sessions, especially the circuit-based meta ones, remained grounded in functional movements—think step-ups from a kneeling position (aka getting up from playing Legos with kids) or holding a low squat (aka weeding).

When COVID-19 hit, FITC loaned its equipment to members and picked right up where it left the studio: Trainers put together a 32-day Quarantine Challenge, inviting members and the public to do as many of its once-a-day classes (streamed and then posted on FITC’s YouTube channel) as felt reasonable. That library of workouts is still available for free to anyone. A $119 streaming membership gets you access to the daily live workouts at noon each day, and members have access to streamed classes from FITC and the River, as well as a private library of recorded workouts.

To date, FITC has sustained 90 percent of its membership, a testament to the relationships the studio has built with its clients, some of whom have been with them since before there was a studio, when FITC was just a park and a bunch of friends, bonding over sweat. “Something we’ve always preached is community,” Olander says. “We always talk about how important it is and how much we focus on it, but the amount of support of love and support we’ve received from our members and how they’ve held us up has solidified for us how important it is.”

Workout type: HIIT
Muscle focus: Legs, core, cardio
Duration: About an hour

The Workout: Part of Fitness In The City’s 32-day Quarantine Challenge, this workout sets your legs and lungs on fire. Three blocks of the same eight movements are peppered with surprise elements like burpees to help keep your heart rate up. Fortunately, the ample rests between 40-second bursts also give you plenty of time to recover. Structured like many of FITC’s workouts—with one trainer (in this one, co-owner Eric Waller) instructing while others (Olander and Kathryn Morgan) are demoing the workout—this one begins with a luxurious eight-minute warm-up before launching into dynamic movements. Throughout the session, Waller’s instructive cues come at crucial times—like when you’re dying 30 seconds into scissor kicks. Also helpful: the modification suggestions to increase or decrease the difficulty of a particular movement, and the Spotify playlist FITC provides for you to sync up with at home. Nothing like a little Young Thug to help drown out the misery.

Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell
Kasey Cordell is the former Editorial Projects Director for 5280.