Graham "Bushy" Muir, coach of the Steamboat Springs rugby team, works out during one of his Manic Training sessions in his Hayden garage. Muir has been sharing his training technique with a small group of locals and hopes to someday turn it into a business.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Graham "Bushy" Muir, coach of the Steamboat Springs rugby team, works out during one of his Manic Training sessions in his Hayden garage. Muir has been sharing his training technique with a small group of locals and hopes to someday turn it into a business.

Rugby training in Hayden is drawing a crowd

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Manic Training

Steamboat Springs Rugby Coach Graham Muir has turned his Hayden garage into a training facility for rugby players and mountain athletes.

Steamboat Springs Rugby Coach Graham Muir has turned his Hayden garage into a training facility for rugby players and mountain athletes.

One look at Graham "Bushy" Muir and it's not hard to tell what the athletes he trains are in for.

The New Zealander, complete with a wide smile, bald head and chest as broad as a sheet of plywood, looks and comes off like an athlete. Take a few steps into his Hayden gym, and all those looks turn into reality.

Kegs, Russian kettlebells, sandbags, rocks, heavy bags and dumbbells line the walls. There's a squat rack, a demonic dip device and PVC pipes with water and caps dubbed "slosh pipes." It's not your regular gym, or your regular trainer and definitely not your regular workout.

There are no fancy devices, no waiting for machines and what Muir calls "no frills, no bull-, no egos, no mirrors and no standing around chatting."

It all adds up to Manic Training. Five days a week, Muir works out with groups of locals. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, Muir trains with men. Tuesdays and Thursdays are reserved for women.

The nonstop, hour workouts focus on core and leg strength, something Muir doesn't think people see enough.

"Over the years, it's progressed from trainers I've been with and what has worked for me in rugby," Muir said. "I try to whip it all together and get the perfect cocktail. I just got to keep manipulating it. There's a lot to it. I try to piece it together for the week or the month. The last six months, the plan has gone pretty well. I just have to get it dialed in."

Judging by the moans and groans of each session, the steam build-up from all the sweat, and testimonies from participants, Muir's training is shaping bodies.

"The first couple sessions were really bad," said Louis Nijsten, who has been working out with Muir for more than a month. "Compared to the other guys, I felt weak. The first couple times, it was tough to keep up. But I started feeling stronger really fast. I could really tell in my tennis play."

Finding balance

The training focuses on full-body workouts, with a mixture of strength, power and endurance training. The workouts involve multiple complex exercises tied together. Although the workouts always differ from session to session, the one thing that doesn't change is the intensity.

There is little rest between each workout, and by the end of the hour session, it's not uncommon to see multiple participants on the ground smiling, exhausted and excited to come back.

"This is the best overall workout that I've been through," said Julie Wernig, who played collegiate soccer at the University of New Hampshire. "It encompasses a fully body and aerobic workout. : The biggest benefit I saw was in skiing. No matter what you do for ski season, your legs get tired. My legs weren't tired, and that's amazing."

Muir has designed his training around mixed martial arts, military exercises and workouts he has picked up. He said the focus is to find a balance that is essential for the mountain athlete. The workouts he does are for the Steamboat Springs athlete. Before ski season, for example, the focus was on legs. In the summer, the focus might be more on the core and cardio training.

"I've noticed it most in my endurance. I can go much longer," Shane Dooley said. "I like to hike a lot, so it pays off in that. But it's for everything."

'Pretty full-on'

Muir has played and coached rugby most of his life. He left his native New Zealand in 1990 to play and coach rugby in Ireland. After bouncing around playing and coaching in Ireland, Australia and England for nine years, he moved to Chicago to coach the Chicago Griffins.

The city got to be too much, and Muir wanted to move west, particularly to Colorado. He knew a couple of people in Vail and figured that would be where he'd wind up. But Steamboat rugby captain Michael Hurley got word of Muir's intentions of moving to Colorado.

Hurley called Muir and talked him into coming to Steamboat for a weekend. As soon as Muir hung up the phone, he got a sign Steamboat was the right place.

"We were watching a Warren Miller movie, and as I got off the phone, my wife goes, 'Who was that?' I said that was a guy in Steamboat Springs and I asked if she'd been there," Muir said. "I told her we'd go there Monday after Vail and meet them. Just after I said that, the Warren Miller movie says, 'Pack up your car, give up your job and move to Steamboat.' I said, 'It looks like we're going to Steamboat.'"

Since 2007, Muir has been coaching the Steamboat squad and training a lot of the rugby players.

He hopes to get a bigger space in the near future and turn his training techniques into a business.

"Finding the space is the big thing," he said. "Finding the right space for the right price. It's having the (courage) to do it, as well. My wife wants me to do it - everyone else wants me to do it. I'm the one who is a little shy."

Either way, every Monday through Friday, his garage in Hayden is full of people sweating, working hard and getting a workout they can't find at a regular gym.

"I think it's for people who come from any background or people who want to be pushed a little harder," Muir said. "It's hard to work out this hard by yourself. This here, what we're doing now, is a pretty full-on workout."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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