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Expert Insights from Coach Carrie Jo Hicks on the Koolers Lifestyle Podcast #63

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00:00:00 Carrie Jo Hicks
You know, I always, it’s funny because there’s always these words going around and you know the buzzwords and fitness empowering people and you know, inspiring. But I consider myself and how I try to look at it is I’m just there to facilitate. And so you know when we start working with clients, even in our group classes, everybody’s got different goals. What works for one person is not going to work for another and so just looking at like how can we get this person in and give them something that is going to be sustainable for them.

00:00:38 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work and serve through my business, Kooler Garage Doors. We’re going to bring you highlights on characters in our communities. Why? Because community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth and our health. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Kuehlhorn. Today we have a longtime local Crest, Abutian Carrie Jo Hicks. Owner of Synergy Athlete, Crested Butte, CrossFit and Mountain Go Property Management. Mom, Long term community member Carrie Jo, thanks so much for joining.

00:01:40 Carrie Jo Hicks
Thank you. Just a little caveat, I would like to also identify as a Gunny girl, cuz that’s right where I started, right on and spent on my my start. And so I’m I’m a Gunnison Valley girl. Not just Yes.

00:01:55 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yes, yes. No, that’s an important distinction. I think that goes for most of us too. Yeah, it is. It is a valley wide thing. So I appreciate that. Are you, you’re beaming in from Crested Butte this morning? Yeah, yes I am. We live up in Pitchfork. Awesome. Yep.

00:02:14 Carrie Jo Hicks
So I’m at my home in Pitchfork and yeah.

00:02:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, beautiful. Well, Kari Joe, start us off here. Where? Where did you start? Where’d you grow up?

00:02:25 Carrie Jo Hicks
I grew up and spent most of my childhood in Maryland, a tiny little town outside of in between Salisbury and Ocean City. I was born in upstate New York which is where all my extended relatives got 27 cousins and 3rd generation dairy farm up there. So still very connected up there. My daughters go and do the family reunion barn dance up there every year and visit everybody. And then my parents moved to Maryland. I was about two and we we had a chicken farm. We raised chicken. So, you know, grew up in in the farm life with my dad having a construction company and yeah, just very outdoorsy lifestyle. It was really important to my dad when he made a move for the family that we had. He didn’t want to be in a city or neighborhood. He he wanted that farm lifestyle, so we ended up on a chicken farm and grew for Purdue.

00:03:24 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Chicken farm. I bet that teaches some. I can only imagine chicken farming is tenacious. Like how many chickens would be in a chicken farm?

00:03:35 Carrie Jo Hicks
You know, we were a smaller operation. I mean, now they’re huge. We were definitely, you know, two big chicken houses. So 100 and 5200 head per house, very close to the house. So you know, you got used to a certain smell all the time when the wind blow just right. But you know, I don’t think that I appreciated that lifestyle like I do now and being and having those experiences. You know, I I rode horses and showed horses and even though we weren’t, So she had economically the same level as a lot of the people that were in our pony Club. You know, I was one of the only kids that had my horse at my house. I didn’t have to board, you know, my dad was very crafty. He made all my own jumps. And so, you know, where we weren’t maybe, you know, rich in money we had, I had a lot of things that, you know, those girls that dads were doctors and lawyers and didn’t have, you know, And so I became a house that people like to stay at. And it was, they were like, ah, this is awesome and such a cool experience. And I was like, I want to live in a neighborhood with a big fat pool. And, you know, but looking back, you know, I am so thankful that that was my upbringing. And it just, you know, there was some resiliency that came along with that. It’s a lifestyle that you have to work hard. There’s no time off. There’s it’s just when the chicken, we lived in a very hot, humid climate. So, you know, that was always an issue in the summer, keeping the chickens alive and you know, you just, you were never off. So yeah, yeah, yeah. How?

00:05:33 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Did How did Colorado find you? Wouldn’t you? What’s the summary of being out this way?

00:05:41 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah. So my parents were really good about, you know, making sure we had experiences. We skied in the Poconos. That was kind of our, you know, a couple times a win our very vacation skiers. And, you know, they’d save up all their change in the milk jug. And then we pick a place and every couple years go out West. And we never came to here, to Cressida, but we’ve been to Vail, nothing, Breckenridge just, you know, a couple of the Front Range places. And it’s like, God, that’s that’s such so cool. And I really enjoyed being out here and skiing. And it never occurred to me to go to college out here. I was like, oh, maybe when I’m done college I could do a stint. And then one night we were drinking hot chocolate, me and a friend. And I was like, gosh, I really want to go out there. And she’s like, let’s do it now. Let’s let’s do a year exchange through our college. And so those were the times where you had to go to the library and pull the book out of colleges. And we found Colorado colleges near ski towns and we found Western State in this little tiny place of Gunnison. And at the time, I can’t say I was thriving. I didn’t move away from home. I was going to University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. I was first semester and just not doing well, getting in a lot of trouble. I had a lot of energy that I couldn’t put into healthy things and I’d always grow. I grew up pretty strict and rigid. Martial arts was in my background and you know, I was, I was letting loose a little too much. So at first when I was like, hey mom, dad, I want to go to Colorado, they’re like, absolutely not. And then they were like, you go you, you should go away. And they came out here. My mom and I came and visited the campus and she’s like, Oh my gosh, small town. You know, we met everybody, all the City Market ladies. This is what City Market was, you know, over on the other side of town and oh, we’ll watch after her. And she just felt really good about the experience and, you know, one semester turned into 30 years. So that’s how I kind of, it’s amazing. Gunnison. Yeah.

00:07:58 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah, I know that. Stories similarly 1 semester turning into many, many years. Yeah, it’s cool.

00:08:05 Carrie Jo Hicks
This place sucks you in and the people and the lifestyle and yeah, yeah.

00:08:11 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So yeah, what did you end up studying in school?

00:08:17 Carrie Jo Hicks
You know, I actually studied psychology and political science. Okay. Yeah, and with a pre law minor in the poli sci. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. You know, my mom was an attorney and she was my parents had me very young. So I got to watch her kind of go through law school and I was like sure that sounds good and just threw myself into that and psychology. I always, you know, love the study or people and had had some things in my life that brought me into that world. I lost a brother very young and so we did a lot of counseling and I just saw how valuable it was for our whole family. So those were the two things I studied. And you know, fitness was always a part of my life. But to me it was a side note. You know, it was just what we did and who we were, you know, with my dad having the boxing gym first. Boxing gym was at our farm. We had a full size ring set up in his barn. I mean it was almost like a little kind of weird Fight Club. Like looking back at it, I’m like that’s kind of odd. But at the time, it was no big deal to walk out in the barn and have a bunch of guys just like going to have it in the ring, you know, and so. Amazing, yeah. He later moved out into like an old bus station, just run down. When it rained, it poured in the building. When it was hot, it was extra hot in there, but so he always had had fitness in his life. My parents were big cyclists at the time and whatever they got into, they got into 100%. So when I started in martial arts, you know we had a little Dojo he built out so I could practice katas, and I started teaching jazzercise at our Dojo when I was 13 years old. Randomly this woman came in and she teach right before my karate class and I was always dropped off early. So I just sit and watch and she’s like, you want to join us? And then I started getting into that and the next thing I know, I’m subbing Jazzercise class so that it was always a part of my life, but I never thought I’d make a living at it. You never know what you don’t know.

00:10:42 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That is totally true. But I’ve seen this continuity, which is really cool, and This is why I love these conversations. And yeah, so. When you when you graduated Western, were you in this valley pretty full on then? Did you ever leave and come back or were you just piercing together the lifestyle?

00:11:01 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah. So my first year I went back home that summer and and that was it. That was the last summer that I stay. I went home and then I just kind of stayed with within the community. Always had a job here. Worked at sorry. Like Mike’s worked at the health food store. Gosh, I worked for the Estes. Never been in the Estes ranch. I I care took for Viva real estate 90 years old. And you know that was a real connection with this valley and just their history. And so, yeah, it was this place just really started to pull me in and it began to feel like home more so than where I was raised. So yeah. And I started working at Rocky’s gym. You remember Rocky’s? Yeah. So I started teaching some, some aerobic classes and some fitness classes up at the gym at Western Escalante. I was teaching step aerobics and then I moved over and teaching some stuff at Rocky’s and became his fitness director and you know, again, always a side gig. I was like, oh, this is you don’t make a living at this, you know? Yeah, Yeah.

00:12:21 Matthew Kuehlhorn
This is this. Fascinating.

00:12:23 Luke Hylton
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00:13:01 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Was going back to your comment about working at Garlic Mike’s and wondering how many of us have all worked at Garlic Mike’s.

00:13:09 Carrie Jo Hicks
It seems like there’s a large yes. Somebody at some point in time in the Valley, you’re going to go through there, You’re going to work at garlic Mikes. Yeah, great. I love, I love that experience. All of them from, you know, working under Larry and Mike to Andy and Mike and you know and again, another little like community, family that when I see people from that era in my life, it’s there’s a connection there where I go.

00:13:37 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah, it’s awesome.

00:13:39 Carrie Jo Hicks
We’re still here.

00:13:40 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, absolutely. Where, when did the fitness pursuit become full time for you?

00:13:48 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah, so I did a couple stints leaving the Valley and and just chasing winter a little bit on Utah Jackson and just figure out like, what is it I want to do, what is, what is my pursuit? And still dialing with maybe psychology, but I realized very quickly that that’s not how I wanted to affect people sitting and and I’d like to sit and talk, but I’m definitely more physical and find just huge value and movement through therapy. And so I came back and went to massage school. So I practiced massage. I was massage therapist. I was roofing houses for Kenny Marks and I was teaching some fitness classes for Joyce Rossiter and she became a huge mentor for me. Like I that woman, I just can’t say enough. She just was always passionate about it. She was always trying to recreate what she was doing and I learned a lot from her and continue to teach for her and then was offered a position. Actually I started volunteering at the Crestview Academy and just doing some dry land stuff for them and core and wasn’t getting paid, just went and kind of worked with the ski teams and then I had the opportunity to go full time for them as a performance director for the ski and snowboard team. So that’s really when I made the shift out of massage and out of all the gyms and just started working in the fitness industry full time. So at that point, I had been teaching, you know, at all the different studios around. So yeah, and that was a huge opportunity. I got to go to the IMG Academies in Bradenton and do an internship there and bring that back to the Valley and our athletes. And you know, ultimately the Academy ended up shutting down. And it was at that point that Crest Wheat CrossFit opened up. Bryson Camp came to the Valley one I I kept seeing CrossFit around. I’m like, I’m like and I had done a little bit of it, just dabbled when I go visit places and I was like, this is really awesome. I love this style of workout. I like the mythology of it. And so when I saw him, I got really excited. I’m like, hey, I’m in you know I’ll go get certified. I want to coach for you. And so that was kind of me moving out of the Academy and then teaching for them. And I still was doing massage at the time. I never wanted to own my own gym. I knew that knowing what it took watching my dad, you know, it’s it’s your entire life. And you know the first question I asked because I had a partner and he said, hey, let’s, I’m going to build this building. You want to put your gym in there. And I was like, hell, no, I don’t want to own a gym. I want to make money, my life, but I was also feeling like how I wanted to train people. What I wanted to do. I needed to have my own facility. There wasn’t anything up here that I could do that. And so we went for it.

00:17:20 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That was about eight years ago.

00:17:22 Carrie Jo Hicks
Let’s see. Yeah. So they opened in 2012 and I quickly bought them out in their original space, maybe about a year later. And then I think our building was done 2015 on where our location is at right now, yeah.

00:17:43 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It’s a beautiful location, the mission that you’re on. You had mentioned you use the word therapy with movement and so it’s training, but I imagine that it’s a little bit deeper for you. Is that true?

00:18:00 Carrie Jo Hicks
Like, yeah. What is that?

00:18:02 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You actually do with people. In your words, what’s the, what’s the mission?

00:18:06 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah, you know, I always, it’s funny because there’s always these words going around and you know the buzzwords and fitness empowering people and you know, inspiring. But I consider myself and how I try to look at it is I’m just there to facilitate. And so you know when we start working with clients, even in our group classes, everybody’s got different goals. What works for one person is not going to work for another. And so just looking at like how can we get this person in and give them something that is going to be sustainable for them. And so you know my private I, I kind of talk about spoon feeding. So I start out really slow and try to just learn this person’s body, their injuries, their there, maybe some limitations. And then we try to work around that and continue them moving forward into a path that’s going to, you know, support them for the lifestyle they want to live for a long time. So being young as long as possible is kind of the goal. So being young.

00:19:21 Matthew Kuehlhorn
As long as possible. Like that perspective, Yeah. So with.

00:19:26 Carrie Jo Hicks
CrossFit and I have some experience here, so I’m just going to pick on it a little bit because it has I can pick connotation.

00:19:36 Matthew Kuehlhorn
There’s a connotation, and you kind of mentioned it like working with individuals, and this is what I’ve seen with with the great CrossFit gyms. But there’s also the the point of, you know, folks that do CrossFit A, they can be the fittest people in the world. B.

00:19:51 Carrie Jo Hicks
They get injured for sure, I.

00:19:55 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Mean. How prevalent is that and and what are some of the myths that we might be able to bust?

00:20:00 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah, you know, so I look at a CrossFit, it’s kind of like anything, right? Like you can say, you know, I do I I box for fitness or I’m a professional boxer and that looks very different for those two people. And so the injury level in professional boxing and the pounding they’re going to take is going to be a lot different than boxing for fitness. And so I kind of can equate CrossFit for that as well. And if you just look at the mythology of it and the definition, which is constantly very functional movement done at different intensities and different time domains, and you use that for training your people, you can get a pretty well-rounded fitness program. If you’re looking at CrossFit, the sport, and you’re trying to, you know, get people lifting really heavy, fast and and specific for the CrossFit workouts you’re going to see at like the game, then yeah, you’re going to be at a higher risk for those injuries we don’t snatch at my gym. I just, you know, I trust my intuition as far as like what I’m seeing. And when I started CrossFit, I was going home. Oh my God this is everything. But I also am very reserved in as far as like questioning things and when I started in to like to my certification process and we’re we’re there. I’m like, wow, that movement. I don’t think I would ever do with my 60 year old athlete that has never thrown his arms over his head and his like, why would I start now? And I understand that the movement pattern for them might be good. So what I do like about CrossFit and they do say this and I think that’s where people miss it, is the scalability of it. And so that’s going to look different for him. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to get his arms overhead, but maybe it’s just for the PVC, you know? But to teach people the complexity of Olympic lifts in a onehour class, that’s you’re trying to focus on their entire, you know, wellbeing. That’s not where I want to put my time and that’s not where they want to put their time. You know, that’s different at every different CrossFit. It, you know, you’re going to have a different culture and for you go into the city and it’s like, hey, this is all I’m going to do today and this is my thing and this is what I’m focusing on and I’m going to practice the snatch, you know, 8 hours during the week, then great, you know, But for general Pop and our athletes who are just high level mountain athletes, that’s probably not the best bang for the buck with their time. So you know, there’s there’s different things when people are like oh you do cross and I’m like yes, I pay, I’m an affiliate. I will always be an affiliate because you know, I’m doing their mythology, I use their workouts. But that’s the nice thing about it is you can use it how it fits your people.

00:23:08 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah. No, I like that. That’s that’s just being mindful as a coach.

00:23:13 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah. And I think we’re we’re lucky in the Valley because you know the cross we we have two here and I think they’re both. We’re both on the same page in that way, so. Yeah, North and South, do you think?

00:23:27 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Do you think everybody’s an athlete? I do.

00:23:31 Carrie Jo Hicks
I think every human. Yeah. You know, it’s that’s an interesting one because when you try to, when people like define themselves and they’re I’m an athlete, well, they don’t want to hear everybody’s an athlete. Do I think everyone has the potential to be an athlete? Absolutely. If you’re human, you know you have that that athletic potential Now what are you going to do with it? So I’m not going to give you you’re an athlete. I’m going to give you you have the potential to be an athlete. Let’s let’s do it.

00:24:04 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You know, yeah, we have the animal body that can be trained, yeah.

00:24:08 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah, but you gotta earn that a little bit, you know, Like, I’m not, you know, if you’re sitting on the couch and not moving at this point in time, no, you’re not an athlete, but you have the ability.

00:24:22 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I copy that. Yeah. What? What are you excited for?

00:24:26 Carrie Jo Hicks
As we as we look forward into the future Time with my dogs. As you can hear, they’re excited too. No, I’m you know it’s it’s funny like I’ve been kind of battling with this this transition of just our our culture and our world with knowledge and you know let these guys out, you guys away take them out. Thank you. I’ve I’ve been kind of you know I would say there’s this challenge in our Society of using technology using social media. We have this, you know, online, these online community that I think can be really beneficial, but finding the balance of how fulfilling are those in comparison to focusing on our relationships of the people that are in our proximity and that we see every day. And so with my kids and my jam, I just, I’m trying to find a more simple way of of accepting all of that into our lives and not letting it take over and not getting on, you know, social media and being like, Oh my gosh, there’s so much out there. And then it becomes a distraction into what I really value, which is my relationships with my people that are in my community, you know, and there’s just some, it’s in the psychology. You know, you pick up little things from your college classes and you never know what’s going to actually come back to be important or you what you remember. But it was just the law of relationships. And how many meaningful relationships can you really have in a lifetime and how many people can you focus on in your inner circle? And you know, with how I give to my relationships and how I want to be there for people, I can’t do that for a huge online community. I can do it for the people in my gym. I can do it for my friends and my family and my community members, you know, And that’s where I think we have to kind of balance a little bit. Like those two things. I want to be in front of somebody. I want to know, Oh my gosh, you know, such and such. Just had an injury. Let’s get on them. What do they need? You know, and that’s what I love about living in small places like this, is that we take care of each other. You know, most of us are not here near our families. And so we become that for each other and when someone’s struggling, everybody jumps in and you get that that tried feeling.

00:27:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s right. That’s right. I love that. And you know one of the things I’ve been seeing, you were talking about fitness gym, you know that kind of body movement therapy if you will, is going to release different endorphins, serotonin and it’s not necessarily a quick dopamine burst like.

00:27:30 Carrie Jo Hicks
The ping on a phone, right?

00:27:32 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You know the likes, right? Yeah. And so it is like engaging the body so that we can feel and that brings in presence, right. Which can then have that connection.

00:27:44 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah. And you just never know what’s gonna come up in classes. You know It’s just you get this group of people and you know like I said I provide the facility the coaching and then a lot of times the connections happen between each other which I think is just so cool. You know I have I, I’m of 1 demographic in age and you know I have a younger crew that’s coming in and they’re all just kind of coming to the valley and they’re connecting with each other and being there for each other and working through some of the hard things of being in this community. Now that you know we’re just different when when I moved here the housing and you know a lot of people are working from their homes where you know I have a lot of remote workers like you know like what do you do all I work from home for this company and that doesn’t allow you to to make those relationships that you do when you work at Garlic Mike’s when you jump into you know Timberline and and suits on and all these little you know caveats that then become your family. So you you find that elsewhere and that’s what we see that we are providing without even doing anything except having that place for people to go. And then you know and and talking about like, yeah, that instant gratification and that’s what I think we see more now. And and what I want to try to get away from is everybody wants it now. Everybody wants it easy when you can snap your fingers and get this and you know you can get on Amazon and it’s there a day later. And but fitness isn’t like that and I think a lot can be learned with just in life. Staying on that course of smile changes daily or weekly or being consistent. And it’s not always going to be exciting. It’s not always going to be like I just went in the gym and PR £50, you know, I mean, I’m at an age that I probably won’t see another deadlift like I did in my 30s and that’s okay. If I can come close to a percentage of that, to where I can lift my dirt bike up, I’m okay with that. So getting people through that mindset of like you’ve always got to have, you’ve always got to be setting goal a goal and smashing it and maybe the goal is just to, you know, stay at close to from a level as you possibly can.

00:30:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, just get in. Do the reps, Yeah.

00:30:19 Carrie Jo Hicks
Do the Rep Yeah, Quality of your movement.

00:30:23 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. I love that quality of your movement. Carrie Jo, how do listeners find you? Reach out to you, engage with Synergy.

00:30:32 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah, we have a website, My emails on there. My phone number is on there. We’re right on Elk, 123 Elk. So stop in and see us. I’m a board member of the Goats, so heavily involved in our dirt bike community, you can get me on on there as well. So yeah, awesome.

00:30:56 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Awesome. We will include that link and e-mail in our show notes and I highly encourage listeners to reach out to Carrie Jo do some reps engaged. Carrie Jo I appreciate it. I think that you know what you provide in the community is an amazing resource and you know certainly the context of your life has has brought you here and I think you’re in the right spot. It’s just special to. Kind of see the continuity and from leading Jazzercise classes at 13 to where you’re at now running Synergy Athlete. I think it’s awesome.

00:31:32 Carrie Jo Hicks
So yeah, and thank you for the same thing. You know, we’ve watched we get to watch everybody grow here. And that’s right, redefine themselves and recreate. And so it’s been fun to watch your journey as well.

00:31:43 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I should probably we can leave it recorded for now because it’s kind of funny, but the way I met Gary. Yeah, is worth talking about.

00:31:55 Carrie Jo Hicks
Okay, let’s do it.

00:31:58 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So I was in, I was in Michigan and I met him in Michigan. And we were at a summer resort. Watervale. Yeah, I met him. Yeah. So Gary, Tom Turner, Darren Morrison. I think two other, maybe one other, but maybe two other guys were all rolling up in a tiny Volkswagen Chiraco after driving from Gunnison into Michigan all night long. And it was hilarious because I was new. I was brand new, I was super young to this resort, and those guys came in and that’s when the summers kicked off. Like, that’s when the party started and it was wild. John Charlton was in that.

00:32:42 Carrie Jo Hicks
Oh yeah, yes, all the all the good sold. And that’s what, you know, attracted me to him, was just like living for the moment and, you know, pushing himself, you know, physically and athletically and, yeah, and let’s see, we’re getting ready to have our 15th wedding anniversary and together, 2029.

00:33:06 Matthew Kuehlhorn
That’s amazing.

00:33:07 Carrie Jo Hicks
I love that a long time. Yeah, yeah, Awesome.

00:33:12 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, super cool. Carrie Jo thank you so much for the conversation today. Really appreciate it.

00:33:16 Carrie Jo Hicks
Yeah, Have a great day and good Memorial Day weekend.

00:33:19 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You as well, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to the Kooler Lifestyle Podcast. We count on your subscriptions, your likes, your shares and I encourage you to do that. Now if you’re watching on YouTube, go ahead and subscribe lower right hand button. If you’re on audio, download this, share it, and we look forward to having you on the next one.