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If you think Mountain Dew is Xtreme, then you need to get a load of Joe Hendricks. A caffeinated cola would just slow him down. A former BMX trick rider in the 1980s, Hendricks starred in commercials, invented routines, lent his name to a Huffy bike model and set a world record in 1982 — when he was just twenty — for jumping over seven cars on his bike in front of the old Mile High Stadium. But that's all ancient history, because what Hendricks, and a few hundred friends, do now is even more extreme.
Hendricks is the founder and leader of Red Rocks Fitness, a workout group that takes fitness beyond what most people can do. It's where the guys and girls who kick your ass at fitness boot camps go to get their own asses kicked. It's where running the stairs at Red Rocks — a grueling challenge for the average person — is just a warmup. (For breath-robbing details, check out www.redrocksfitness.com.)
"It's almost like running a marathon every time we go — that's how hard it is," says Hendricks, who was known as Jumpin Joe when he used to entertain halftime crowds at NBA games two decades ago (you can find old videos of him on YouTube). "People have to call in sick to work the next day sometimes because they can't walk."
Over the years, the group, which is free, has become more and more popular — roughly 150 people turned out for a recent weekend session — and also more noticeable, especially since Hendricks, who operates both a sprinkler and a DJ business, had been blasting blood-pumping tunes during his three-hour training sessions until recently.
A couple of weeks ago, however, the city asked him to tone it down after receiving five or six complaints from other people who were running the stairs at the park. After all, Red Rocks, when it's not hosting thunderously loud concerts of its own, is a city-owned park, one that is known around the world for its beauty and serenity.
"We encourage people to come up and work out or to leisurely enjoy the amphitheatre, and we do have a standard policy that these activities can't negatively impact the enjoyment of others at the venue," says Jenny Schiavone, spokeswoman for Denver's Division of Theatres & Arenas. "We do restrict amplified music during these times."
Schiavone says the city has reiterated this policy to Red Rocks Fitness and plans to follow up with Hendricks this week, noting that he has been very cooperative.
"It sucks without the music," Hendricks says, adding that he believes it was just one or two jealous people who killed the rock and roll. "I always kept it mainstream: Chicago, the Doors. Music that everyone knows the words to — nothing offensive."
But he plans to continue the workouts, especially since the core group members have become so close. "My passion is the workout," he says. "At the gym, you have headphones on and don't say anything to anyone. With us, within an hour you'll know twenty people, and they'll all be high-fiving you and cheering you on."
Scene and herd: Trials can be stressful, so no one could blame chain-smoking former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill for grabbing a few puffs in the Denver County Courthouse men's room during his wrongful-termination lawsuit against CU. And according to two Denver County Courthouse employees, that's exactly what Churchill was doing. But smoking in the courthouse isn't allowed — so is this an example of a man who disregards rules of ethics in pursuit of his own gain, or a further showcase of a proud intellectual using his "academic freedom" to subvert the oppressive status quo? To join the discussion, check out the Latest Word blog at westword.com.