Functional Training- Q&A with Sean Sewell from Colorado Personal Fitness.

As I progress down this blog journey an important goal of mine is to feature a series of Q&A’s on how others prepare for adventures in the mountains. I am so excited to kick this off with the below Q&A with Sean Sewell from Colorado Personal Fitness. Sean Sewell is a Certified Personal Trainer (and also has a whole host of other badass certifications check them out here BIO ). Sean currently resides in Colorado where he can often be found splitboarding, hiking, camping, or just exploring the beautiful wilderness of Colorado. Sean specializes in Functional Training, which he defines as “creating training programs to enhance your day to day life and activities.” What I love about Sean is that he works with a variety of different everyday people, not just high performance pro athletes. He helps real world people achieve their fitness goals, this includes seniors, couples, and busy professionals. I think Sean says it best below:

“Previous to becoming a trainer, I worked in the corporate world – for 12 years – so I know what it is like to be at a desk all day and feel out of shape.  I can empathize with the workloads, the trouble to find time as well as motivation to exercise.  If I can do it, so can you!  Actually, this is my core group of clients – busy professionals who need expert help, accountability and some “me” time to take care of themselves and then get back to taking care of business (and family!).”

Ok lets jump right in with questions. But first be sure to check out the links to Sean’s programs, social feeds, and a link to a free digital download of his Splitboarding book at the bottom of the post.

1 – Can you give us a background on where you live, work, and what mountain sports you pursue?

A) I live in Denver CO and operate my fitness business here and in the mountains of the Front Range.  Winter is splitboarding, snow shoeing, camping and hiking. Summer is for hiking, biking, camping, rafting and anything outside.

2 – Did you grow up in a mountain town? If not where?

A) I was actually born and raised in Omaha NE, believe it or not! 🙂 I loved being outside and enjoyed the rivers and forests of Nebraska and Iowa.  It was always a dream to visit CO, but we never did.  Then my mother was transferred to Denver for work. I fell in love and awe of the mountains since day one of living here.  Still am!

3 – What are some of your goals for the upcoming spring off season from Snowboarding?

A) Great question.  The way I train is to be ready for action any day and any moment.  So I don’t really have “off season” or “peaking”. I suppose I do hit it a bit harder in the non winter months as I am not pushing myself as much with backcountry mountain activities in deep snow. That being said, here are my 2019 goals for fitness, health and growth:

  • Mobility – maintain and/or improve mobility
  • Recover – allow for maximum recovery after training.  I think we can all be better at this.
  • Strength – Spend some time getting comfortable with heavier kettlebells, weighted tactical pull-ups, weighted pistols and explosive push ups.
  • Redo the StrongFirst SFG in the fall.  Never can learn enough!
  • Update the Splitboarding book I wrote to reflect recent AIARE education updates and new gear. 
  • Start formally teaching the Mountain Fitness School in the mountains of Colorado.  Get as many people prepped for the following winter!

4 – How did you get into (whatever your favorite mountain sports are)?

A) I always loved snowboarding.  Been doing it for 25 years of so.  I also love hiking and exploring.  When I learned that there were some people who took a snowboard and split in half to make a mountain accession tool.  At first, it was a major challenge to figure out how things work, best practices and all that.  So, after learning from some mentors, I figured it would be a good opportunity to help others get into this sport. It is such a rewarding outdoor experience – trekking up a mountain, the views and magic of the area, the fitness component of the tour and then you get to snowboard back to the trail head.  Its perfect! I also love the gear that goes along with splitboarding and outdoor adventures.  I created a site that goes over the latest gear for splitboarding and other outdoor activities, check it out – Engeament

5 – How do you train yourself and others for these sports?

A) I use as few fitness tools as possible in the most simple and effective way that I can think of.  The tools are bodyweight, kettlebells and TRX.  First, I make sure that the student (or myself) is moving correctly.  Using FMS and other screens to see if I can spot imbalances.  Chances are high that we all have opportunity in this area, I know I do! Once moment is addressed, we go over the basic movement patterns – pull, push, hinge, squat, lunge, rotation, anti-rotation.  It is really simple, but I think the body should be trained as a unit of components all working together. A training program I create will make sure to cover all those patterns.  Some of my go-to exercises are kettlebell swings, push ups, goblet squats, rows or pull ups, Turkish get ups, hollow holds and cossacks. After training professional for over 10 years, I have seen several training methods come and go, but these tried and true tools never let the you down. I make sure each rep is a good rep, that we rest adequately between sets to get the most out of each session.  I combine ballistics with presses, pulls, anti-rotation and mobility in every session.  All about the KISS idea.  Keep it simple and safe ( I don’t like calling things stupid :P) I created the Mountain Fitness School to help others get in shape for mountain sports.  It goes over all this in much greater detail and shows the user how to perform exercises correctly and use the program to improve endurance and strength in the mountains. 

6 – Can you give us some background on Colorado Personal Fitness?

A) Colorado Personal Fitness is my training business that I created to help others improve their health and fitness to better enjoy their life and outdoor activities.  Using the fitness tools above (bodyweight, kettlebells and TRX) we work on improving their quality of life so they can enjoy more time with loved ones doing what they love. From playing with their kids and grandkids, to climbing mountains.  To me, it is all about treating each person with respect and kindness, finding their sticking points and teaching them how to move better.  Progressing them towards their individual goals and rewarding them with encouragement and genuine stoke.  Many of them graduate onto doing new activities.  Some even join me for backcountry hikes, snow shoeing and even splitboarding! 

B) Its a dream job and I am fortunate to be able to do it.  I spent 15 years working in an office setting, so I know that that is like.  I left the corporate world do what I truly love doing – helping others improve their health and get outside!

7 – What advice do you have for flatlanders who often travel to the mountains to Ski or snowboard and want to be prepared?

A) Great question!  1) Hydrate 2) ease into the elevation 3) Hydrate! 4) eat some good food 5) rest and recover! 6) leave a run on the mountain.  This last one is very important.  I am a firm believer in doing an activity with as much safe effort as possible.  Meaning, stop when form degrades.  On the mountain, if you are getting fatigued and your body starts to give out, this could easily lead to an injury.  In the training room, we always stop at the first signs of degraded form.  No need to train to fatigue in the gym or in the mountains.  Save that run for the next day! Save that rep for the next session.  7) hydrate! 🙂

8 – Same question but focused on uphill winter travel like splitboarding?

A) Hydrate for sure.  If your urine is dark color, you are dehydrated and behind the 8 ball.  Get some salts in you.  EAT!  You are going to burn more calories skiing uphill than just about anything else you can do in the gym.  Plus, it is probably cold and your body needs extra calories to stay warm and functioning.  So, no diets in the backcountry!  I don’t care if you diet at home, don’t do it on the mountain and jeopardize yourself and others.  Stretch after tour.  Chances are good that you will be driving for a while after the adventure and it is no bueno to be tight and bound up.  Just get some simple stretches in and eat some good food before you head back to civilization.  One trick I do is to do a 5-10 minute mobility / stretching session when I get home.  This really aids in the recovery process.

9 – When do you start training for the snowboard season?

A) I train for snowboarding year round.  I find that this keeps me primed for most any activity that pops up.  Snowboard season can go from October – June for me, so there really is not much time off between beginning and end.  And that “time off” is “time on” for other fun outdoor activities 🙂

10 – What are some of the biggest mistakes you see clients make when training specifically for mountain sports like climbing, snowboarding, or running?

A) Easy – overtraining.  I think people believe that they need to crush themselves in the gym.  I was one of those people, so I can relate.  I can also relate to all the injuries and frustration that went along with this kind of training.  Training in the gym is meant to improve life outside of it.  Not take away from it. By listening to your body (or using HRV and heart rate monitors to track data) you can find out when to hit it hard, and when to back off.  In fact, I wrote a paper on this topic for StrongFirst and how it relates to mountain fitness.  Link here –

11 – What off season activities do you recommend to stay in shape for ski season?

A) I am all for whatever activities you love doing, that makes you break a sweat.  Some of my personal favorites are hiking and biking.  Backpacking is really good as you have a weight on your back that is at least as heavy as a well equipped backcountry winter backpack.  Plus you get to study the terrain that you may latter be skiing down.  Swimming is great for fitness and recovery. Rafting is a heck of a lot of fun too.  Plus, there is a sense of awe as you are enjoying the river, that is made of the snow that you enjoyed skiing on a few months before.  SUP is great too.  Talk about a fun challenge to proprioception and balance! I have not done SUP as much as I would like, but look forward to doing that more. Basically, just get outside, have fun, break a sweat and share a smile with loved ones.  As long as you are consistent with training and outdoor activities, ski season will not be such a shock to the system.

Colorado Personal Fitness website –

Mountain Fitness School website –

Engearment website –

How to Splitboard –

2 thoughts on “Functional Training- Q&A with Sean Sewell from Colorado Personal Fitness.

  1. I’m not concerned with the “name”, it is method of training that helps a person be stronger, faster and can manage everything that is tossed his/her way in life! Remember, we were not always lumps of flesh setting around doing practically nothing! Our bodies are made to do so much more and better than what most get from them at this time! The Trainer (RN)*

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