Inner Evolution Training Functional Training

Functional Training for a Better Life

Functional Training

Imagine hiking through the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Looking over the Denver skyline while being able to finally take a deep breath and de-stress from your arduous workweek. Realizing that everything you have done in your life has led you to this peaceful moment — all the good times and the bad. Enjoying these little moments in life is what drives me to keep going and evolve. Finding those moments that you love — those moments that make all the heartache worthwhile. Without those moments, you can lose your luster for life, burnout faster, be unable to handle those daily struggles, and forget about the beauty the world has to offer.

Your favorite moments might be adventuring with loved ones; playing with your children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren; challenging yourself on a paddleboard; running around the neighborhood; or maybe keeping up with your friends.


Enjoying these moments more often and more easily keeps me working out. I want to find ways to have fun and enjoy life until the moment I die, which I hope is well past 100 years old. Being active in your daily life and throwing in challenging functional workouts are essential so you’re able to do those tasks that make you feel alive. Workouts that mimic real-world activities and utilize your body the way it’s designed improve heart health, help cellular function, and test your muscles in a safe environment.

If you don’t want to do or don’t enjoy physically demanding activities in your life but you get deep joy from work, conversations, or everyday accomplishments, exercise can still help with that. It improves productivity; clears the mind; increases daily energy; and, probably most importantly, reduces stress.

Functional workouts are starting to become a more prevalent form of exercise rather than bodybuilding (Arnold-Schwarzenegger-style) workouts. Functional training movements mimic everyday life activities, such as walking upstairs or carrying groceries. If you want to be less winded walking around, feel stronger moving furniture, or have better posture, functional training is a great fit. Functional exercises also scale fantastically to more demanding everyday activities. Functional workouts:

  • Transfer to real-world activities more effectively
  • Reduce injuries by rebalancing muscles and improving body alignment
  • Are fun and versatile

Mike Boyle is a world-renowned strength and conditioning coach who uses a functional training approach. He has great success with it; he’s worked with many professional teams and athletes, including the USA women’s hockey and soccer teams, the Boston Bruins, the Boston Red Sox, and former MLB star Nomar Garciaparra.

As a personal trainer located in Denver, I meet a gamut of people who are active in various ways. In my experience, functional exercises fit virtually all types of outdoor fun. Hiking 14ers is obviously made easier with training, although if you want to get the best bang for your buck you need to mimic the same walking demands of walking at a steep incline. So why not try that in the gym? Get more strength and endurance with weighted step-ups, a favorite functional exercise of mine.

Functional training isn’t the magic bullet of fitness, and it isn’t a fit for some. Functional training won’t get you the biggest muscles or give you the ability to lift 800 pounds. Don’t get me wrong; it will make you a better version of yourself, but just not in those categories. However, it has helped world-class athletes, military elites, and obstacle course racers, and it is also the preferred method of training.

Here are some functional exercises you can try out, which include in-gym and outdoor variations.

Weighted step-ups

A great exercise to do to help with challenging hikes.

Gym: With a weight in each hand, step up onto an exercise bench or other stationary, level object with one leg. Step back down with the same leg, then switch to the other leg. Make sure to keep your torso upright, and don’t lean too far forward.

Outdoors: Find a set of stairs, a steep hill, or a tree stump to step up onto. For the weights, a backpack should work just fine.


Hopefully you all know what a push-up is. It is actually one of the best exercises, and it just so happens to be functional.

Gym: Start with your whole body on the ground and your hands slightly wider than your shoulders. While keeping your whole body rigid, push your body up, pause for a second, lower yourself down until your elbows are 90 degrees, and then push back up again. If you’re unable to perform from the ground, place your hands on a bench to incline your body and make it easier to keep your body rigid. Don’t give in to the temptation to do push-ups from your knees as you’ll lose the benefits that push-ups have for your whole body.

Outdoors: Find a nice grassy area free of dog poop. Proceed to do push-ups in the great outdoors.

Farmer’s carry

One reason most farmers are tougher than nails.

Gym: Pick up a heavy dumbbell or kettlebell in each hand. Have your arms straight down by your sides, and walk for a good distance while keeping your upper body tall and your midsection tight. The weight should be challenging to hold in your hands but not too heavy that you lose good posture.

Outdoors: Go find a farmer to help. Maybe try carrying two kids in each hand while walking through the park. Be creative, and enjoy the benefits.

Paleo Sliders

Paleo Sliders

Paleo Sliders

A recipe from, created by Diane Sanfilippo on how to make some easy paleo sliders!!!

Easy 10 Minute Sliders Paleo Sliders

Fast and easy sliders with a healthy dressing, to me that sounds amazing. I’m always on the go or working on something, so when I find time in the kitchen I always try to find the easiest, healthiest thing I can find. The added bonus of this recipe is the taste. It tastes like how burgers should taste, in my opinion, but without the guilt.

Here is Diane’s great recipe for sliders and also some dressings to top it off.

Easy Recipe: 10-minute sliders


1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
1 1/2 pounds ground beef, bison, or lamb
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 tomato, sliced (optional, omit for nightshade free)
1/2 red onion, sliced
Creamy Ranch dressing (see below)


Preheat a large cast-iron skillet, grill, or grill

Pan to medium-high heat.

Combine the garlic, onion powder, salt, pepper, and cumin in a small bowl. Form the meat into 8 small (3-ounce) patties, taking care not to over handle the meat or it will become tough. Use your thumb to imprint a small dent into the center of each patty. With clean hands, liberally season both sides of the patties with the Spice Blend, using a utensil to flip the patties so that your hands do not get dirty between dips into the spices. There may be extra spice left over; it can be stored in a jar for later use.

Cook the patties for 3 minutes per side or until they reach the desired level of doneness.

Serve over iceberg lettuce, topped with tomato and onion slices or with your favorite burger toppings. These sliders are perfect when topped with Creamy Ranch Dressing.

Creamy Ranch Dressing

YIELD:  1/2 cup

1/4 cup Homemade Healthy Mayonnaise
1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon minced fresh
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar* to taste
sea salt and black pepper to taste

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients. Add just 1 tablespoon of the vinegar at first, taste, and add more if needed. This dressing should keep well for up to a week in the refrigerator in a glass jar.

Homemade Healthy Mayonnaise

YIELD:  3/4 cup

2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon gluten-free Dijon mustard*
1/2 cup macadamia nut oil or other oil (see page 228)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon juice, and mustard until blended and bright yellow, about 30 seconds. Begin adding 1/4 cup of the macadamia nut oil to the yolk mixture a few drops at a time, whisking constantly. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 cup of macadamia nut oil and the olive oil in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly, until the mayonnaise is thick and lighter in color.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Enjoy these tasty Paleo Sliders.

About Diane

Diane is a Holistic Nutritionist specializing in Paleo nutrition, blood sugar regulation, food allergies/intolerances and digestive health. She is also the writer of one of my favorite books, the New York Times Bestseller “Practical Paleo”.

Please check out her website for more awesome recipes and Paleo information.

Healthy Living

Simple Ways to Improve Your Life.

Improve Your Life

Here at Inner Evolution Fitness, we like to think long term. If we started doing this how regularly, would it help us later in life? Normally, if it improves our health and well being, we adapt it. We try to cultivate a beneficial environment inside the gym and out. To enhance your workout and to ultimately have a healthier and longer life; we make some changes to your daily lives that are pretty simple but add immense benefits. Most people know it is hard to change unless it’s simple or it shows immediate results. It’s hard to make a positive habit stick, so here are some simple ways to improve your life.

Dental Hygiene

I know what you are probably thinking, “how can flossing and brushing my teeth make my workouts and life better?” I’m glad you asked. Besides the benefits of not having food stuck between your teeth, regular dental hygiene practices have been shown to lower bad bacteria entering your bloodstream which can lead to heart disease and blood clots. The studies aren’t yet conclusive, but there are a lot of correlations leading to a bad ticker. So why are you trying to strengthen your heart and body if you aren’t even brushing your teeth?


Daily Activity

Well, duh! Everyone knows that, why even mention it. I’m not talking about going to the gym and sweating all the time. I’m talking about just walking more, sitting less, going to the park, or riding a bike to the grocery store. According to Dr. James Levine’s book ‘Get Up’, “Sitting is the new smoking”. This came about due to the numerous studies showing the ill effects of being sedentary. So even the “gym rat” who works out all the time, then goes home to play video games for the rest of the day is still getting the effects of sitting too much.

To help combat this, try to break up your sitting. After 45 minutes of continual sitting, get up and walk around for a minute or two.

Social Bonding

Getting together with friends and family to go on a hike or play a board game can be great for stress reduction. In the book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, author Matthew Lieberman illustrates that it is more beneficial to your health to play a game with your friends in person once a week than it would be to quit smoking a pack a day. That is a very bold statement in my opinion, so why not have fun for your health. Try to have a family game night or something even as simple as playing catch with your friends and experience great benefits of being social.


Healthy Diet

Again, I’m stating the obvious. This should be the basis for anyone looking for ways to live longer and better. There are numerous ways to improve your eating habits. Inner Evolution Fitness follows a Paleo lifestyle, but knows that isn’t simple for everyone to do. What we recommend is to eat real food, that’s it. If it is in nature and hasn’t been heavily processed or formulated in a factory, go ahead and eat it.


Mobility Training

Mobility training is a type of training that focuses on increasing range of motion in joints that need freedom of movement and decreasing range of motion in areas that need more stability by using exercises that mimic real life situations. This is a way to keep your joints and muscles working the way they are meant to.

This is another easy one that has obvious benefits, doing mobility training: reduces injuries, increases strength, and helps everyone in their daily living. So being able properly to carry groceries and not worry about your back, walking up and down the stairs with no knee pain, and even getting off the couch easier is what mobility training has to offer.


Ways to increase Telomere length

This is a bit nerdy in the research. So I’ll try to make it less painful and simplify it. Vitamin D has been shown to increase telomere length. “Telo-what now”. Telomeres are the caps that keep your DNA strands together. You know the plastic ends on your shoelaces? That is what telomeres are, they are the plastic things on the end of your DNA strands.

Studies have been shown that the longer telomeres are, the longer you will potentially live. So the optimal amount of Vitamin D in your body will make you live longer.

Effective ways to increase your intake of Vitamin D
-Eat more Fish
-Go outside


De-stress in Nature

A number of studies have shown the benefits of just getting away from the daily grind of life and kicking up your feet. Watching a movie and just lounging around is good, but I prefer great. Going into nature and being around trees is like relaxing on steroids, according to this study. Being in nature lowers cortisol, the hormone that is high up when you are stressed out, even more than just relaxing and also increases NK cells (NK cells or natural killer cells are known to fight off cancer cells and viral infections). You don’t have to be a Bushman or Grizzly Adams, just go for a hike or try a meal at a park by the trees or lake and decompress.


Like I said, I want things in life to be simple. Simplify life for great results, so I came up with an easy way to achieve most of these steps. Inner Evolution Fitness loves to train groups of people in the park; this covers being outside, being in nature, social bonding, mobility training, and being active. You can even bring a healthy meal and that pretty much covers it. We won’t do group flossing or brushing, that’s all on you. Grab some of your friends and join me in an enjoyable time outside to help your health in multiple ways. No matter what fitness level, we will accommodate to you.

Stay evolved

The Mighty Plank

The Plank and All Its Glory.

If you are looking for improved posture, a stronger core (every muscle from the bottom of the ribs to the pelvis), stronger butt, and want to get ripped in 15 days–maybe you should try an infomercial. If you want to get real, long term results, you can’t go wrong with the plank.

The plank’s main focus should be to improve posture and must be executed to accomplish this–through great form and awareness of our body. In the pictures above, my body is in a straight line as if I were standing up straight. You can achieve this at home by actively squeezing your glutes, abdominals, and making sure to keep your hips in line with the rest of your body. Also as to avoid injuring yourselves, keep your elbows under your shoulders and not let our upper body be hanging freely, so push through the floor and keep your chest in a good position.

Form Checklist:

• Elbows under your shoulders
• Actively squeezing your glutes
• Squeezing your abdominals
• Hips in line with body
• Pushing through the floor to keep your chest neutral
• Last, keep your entire spine straight

To begin with I will take a new client through an elevated plank and progress them through lower angles until they are able to reach the floor–doing this exercise for 20 seconds at a time. So I like doing high planks on a bench first, then lowering them until clients are comfortable performing a high plank on the floor. Then after the high plank has become too easy for them, we will progress to the regular plank. What I recommend for this exercise is to make sure you keep a solid form for the duration of the exercise. Never will a client of mine perform a plank from their knees, I’d rather they keep a straight line throughout the whole body so performing a plank is a skill transferable to daily living. I like to have my clients reach a maximum of 4 sets planks,  60 seconds each, with solid form; and if they lose form we stop the exercise and try again later. Once they are able to accomplish this maximum we advance to other core exercises.

If you have any questions or problems, ask them in the comment section. If you need more help you can contact me through e-mail.

Tasty chicken salad

A great recipe from the healthy food obsessed, Juli Bauer the writer of several cookbooks and the blog,

Ever since I have switched to a paleo way of eating, I have most missed the convenience of meals. One of my favorite meals is a nice, filling, and delicious chicken salad. My mom knows that this is one of my favorite meals and still makes it for whenever I visit.

I’m not a cook by any stretch of the imagination– I prefer to find quick and simple meals from amazing cooks and this recipe delivers just that. It is quick, tasty and you don’t need to be a whiz in the kitchen. So try it for yourself, tell me what you think about it in the comments below, and enjoy a healthy and satisfying meal.


Chipotle Chicken Salad

 Serves: 2-3
  • 1 pound chicken, cooked and diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, finely chopped
  • ¼ white onion, finely chopped
For the mayo
  • ⅔ cup avocado oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle adobo sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Mix together chopped chicken, celery, and white onion.
  2. Place all mayo ingredients in a tall container, put immersion blender to the bottom of the container and turn on. Keep immersion blender on until the oil turns to a white color and into mayo. Should take just a little over 30 seconds, if that!
  3. Mix mayo with chicken, celery and onion.
  4. Eat up, however you’d like. In lettuce, with a fork. Or a spoon. Anything goes with chicken salad and 30 second mayo.