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Charlie Pappas: Rugby - Hunting - & Emergency Response

Manic Training athlete Charlie Pappas lives in Aurora, but he’s one of the original Manic students from the early, early days when the gym’s founder—Graham “Bushy” Muir—first started teaching training sessions to Rugby players out of his garage in Steamboat Springs, CO.

Close to three years ago, Charlie moved to Denver after graduating with a degree in business management from Colorado State University. Today, the 30-year-old still chooses Manic Training as his go-to workout, even with a boatload of new gym options available in the metro area. Manic helps him stay healthy for a physically demanding career—he works with an insurance restoration company to repair homes and conducts emergency response—and in his free time, he's an archery hunter.

Manic caught up with Charlie to learn how Manic has changed his life and about the outdoor scenarios his body needs to stand up against.

Manic: When you first moved to Denver Manic Training Highlands Ranch hadn’t opened, yet—so what did you do for your workout?

CP: Once I moved to the Front Range, Bushy would email me the workouts. I’d try to do them on my own. After a while, I faded away from it. When they opened the one in Denver I jumped on the opportunity to start going again.

Manic: Can you describe a day on the job for us?

CP: Recently, Denver got hit with a massive hailstorm. So, lately we’ve been overwhelmed with the aftermath and fixing the roofs on buildings and homes. Then, for instance, today there was an apartment building that collapsed underneath a roof that was too heavy, and so we had to rush over, because we do emergency response.

Manic: Wow, that sounds like it can be intense at times. What are your hobbies?

CP: All of my hobbies are outdoors in general but my big thing—and part of the reason I do Manic aside from the day-to-day benefits—is that I’m a big archery hunter. I need to train year-round for the hunting season. My wife and I also spend a lot of time at the lake wake boarding and surfing. I see huge benefits from Manic in all aspects of my life but the gains that I see from Manic in archery hunting is tremendous.

Manic: Tell us more about archery season and a typical outing.

CP: Archery season starts at the end of August and goes through the end of September. Usually, the temperatures are very high. There are days when I cover 15 to 20 miles with a pack that weighs from 30 to 90 pounds. I carry a bow in one hand as I navigate through the woods. I go every weekend—with back-to-back days—so my overall fitness, recovery and being able to move efficiently is extremely important.

I have gone hunting with others who don’t train and they become exhausted and need to catch their breath within the first 20 minutes. Then, the next day their legs are so fatigued that they can’t continue. Recently, I hiked 14 miles in the mountains with elevation changes from 6K to 12K feet in one day. Then, on Sunday I woke up and did it again—and I was fortunate enough to harvest an Elk. Then, you need to pack that animal out of the woods.

Manic: Once you catch an animal, what’s the process of hauling out the meat?

CP: You will be potentially carrying out a 80 to 100-pound load on your back. I’ve had instances where I needed to quarter the animal. It could be 3 miles to nearest county road where you could get a truck, but you may need to do that trip 2 to 4 times, depending on whether or not you have help from other people.

Manic: Have you ever been caught in an extreme situation where your body withstood additional, unexpected strain?

CP: Last hunting season, I took one of my coworkers and his two younger sons on a hunting trip up to my cabin. There was a snow storm that came in. The two younger boys were determined to go to cabin, and so was I. We put chains on trucks and tried to make it to the cabin, but it was 13 miles down non-maintained road. There was close to 18 inches of snow, and my truck got stuck.
I had to make the choice of trying to fix the chains and driving back down the road—and possibly getting stuck again—or hiking to the Cabin. Though, all of the tools that I needed were at the cabin, too. I didn’t want to leave the group alone.

I decided that we should all hike to the cabin. I carried my 70-pound hunting pack on my back and a 40-pound daypack that belonged to the boys. I had a gallon of water in each hand. I would hike down the road toward the cabin, plow a trail, and hike back to the other three. Then, I would carry their bags and they would walk behind me. It was 2.5 miles to the cabin, but I probably walked 7 to 10 miles in order to go back-and-forth to get them. When we got to the cabin both of the one-gallon jugs were frozen completely solid. That puts the conditions into perspective.

We hiked back out the next morning and were able to get the truck out of there.

Manic: Wow—those circumstances sound extreme and that your health was at an incredible level. How did the other three feel?

CP: My coworker is in his early forties but in terrible shape. His 14-year-old is a baseball player and the 12-year-old is a football player, so they’re in okay shape. When we got to the cabin, I was ready to open a beer and make dinner. They were all exhausted. My coworker’s legs started cramping up super bad. Then, I woke up the next morning and felt totally ready to go hunting. It was an eye-opening experience for the benefits that I get from Manic. Manic really does make you ‘ready for life.’ That experience was one of the biggest situations when that shined through to me. When the unplanned took place my body was more than able to handle the stress, and I was confident in my body’s ability to do what needed to be done.

Manic: You’ve played sports your entire life—hockey, ski racing and rugby—and gone through phases when you didn’t attend Manic. What makes Manic different from other fitness programs, in your experience?

CP: I’ve always been very fitness driven and taken my health seriously. When I was not doing Manic, I was lifting weights and rotating through legs, shoulders and arms, and chest: repeat. I may have gained bulk and strength but it didn’t apply to anything. There were times when I was in very good shape and had good muscle mass, but I would go water skiing and pull a hamstring. I didn’t have the flexibility and endurance I needed. I went on hunting trips prior to Manic, but now that I've reintegrated Manic the gains that I saw last season was incredible. I was able to be in the best shape of my life.

When you’re 14 miles in the backcountry with an 80 pound pack you can’t be fatigued, and you need to be driven, though you also need the strength component and overall endurance of what we do in Manic.

Manic: That’s awesome to hear. How often do you go to Manic, now?

CP: I usually go 3 to 4 times a week. I’d like to do it 4 to 5 times a week when I reach my peak strength.

Charlie Pappas
Avid Manic member & outdoorsman


Phone 401.487.6575
Address 2000 E County Line Road
Littleton, Colorado 80126