Kara Griffith, EP
Family Health West Wellness Clinic
Kara Griffith grew up as an active child, always outside and on the go, with a natural interest in health and nutrition. From first through twelfth grade she was a competitive swimmer. This drive and inborn athleticism inspired her to compete in a sprint triathlon just ten months after her now five-year-old son was born. And it is part of what originally led her to pursue a degree in exercise science from Grand Valley State University in her home state of Michigan. This degree has been the platform for a fifteen-year career as an exercise physiologist.
Griffith moved to Western Colorado twelve years ago, advancing medically-based wellness for six and a half years at St. Mary’s Medical Center. In 2017, she transitioned to Family Health West (FHW) in Fruita where she was first hired as a rehab aid with her “Stepping On” fall prevention program for older adults. She quickly began expanding to offer other classes including personal training and individual weight management. She has continued to grow the wellness department from there. Currently, Kara is the Wellness Supervisor, overseeing several employees and a top-notch fitness facility that offers services as far-ranging as strength and conditioning to massage, diabetes prevention, and nutrition and wellness coaching.
Right now, Griffith is preparing to collaborate with Western Valley Family Practice to launch a brand-new pilot program: a weight management support group. The program will include an initial physician visit to determine each client’s personalized needs including the consideration of medication possibilities. Depending upon results, follow-up visits may be scheduled as needed. A 12-week schedule of exercise with two structured exercise classes each week will be central to the program. Griffith believes that even for those who think they don’t like exercise the weekly themes and gradual implementation of new tools and ideas will keep things interesting. In addition, the social support and accountability piece will be a great motivator as group members show up to consistently support one another.
When it comes to coaching weight loss, Kara has years of success and growing wisdom, noting that slower, sustainable steps toward weight loss are the way to gain true health. “You never want to do something to attain a goal that you’re not willing to do to maintain that goal,” she states with confidence. “It’s the journey, not the destination. It’s a lifestyle!”
When it comes to finding the motivation to get started, Griffith advises, “Something is better than nothing. We all hear, ‘thirty minutes of exercise a day,’ but if all you can do is five or ten minutes, just start somewhere! You don’t have to be in great shape to start exercising.”
FHW’s Wellness Clinic is a spacious, newly renovated, well-kept secret. As of 2019, it occupies the third floor of 228 North Cherry Street, not far from Colorado Canyons Hospital and Medical Center, and houses a plethora of sports training and exercise equipment, as well as two beautiful message rooms. “Pretty much on a daily basis, I hear people come in and say, ‘that was the best massage I ever had,’” Griffith reflects.
The Wellness Clinic accommodates individual, partner, and group training experiences, and has plans to continue offering Zumba as soon as possible. In addition, they offer modified circuit training, tailored for those with various medical conditions. The clinic often collaborates with FHW’s physical therapy team. “The nice thing about a place like this,” Griffith comments, “is that we have the medical background to safely prescribe and monitor exercise, no matter what someone has in their health history.”
Another exciting program the clinic offers is their Rock Steady Boxing for individuals with Parkinson’s disease. All of the exercises in the program are targeted against Parkinson’s and consistently lead to health improvements such as decreased tremors, better balance, more confidence, and improved outlook on life. Griffith comments, “You train like a boxer. They’re not sparring … they’re fighting back against their disease and their symptoms.” One Rock Steady boxer recently wrote, “Honestly, Rock Steady Boxing is keeping me alive.”
Griffith’s eyes light up as she talks about her work. “I feel like my passion comes from empowering people to have some control over the outcome of their quality and quantity of life. I want them to feel empowered that even when they’re not here, they can still take care of themselves, to have some exercises they can do to not fall off the wagon.” She continues with enthusiasm, “I like to coach people from a place of self-love because I think a lot of people go to trainers hating things about themselves and that is what’s motivating them to make a change. But when you don’t love yourself you’re not going to make changes that are sustainable to really take care of yourself.”
Kara’s entrepreneur husband Tom owns one of Fruita’s favorite digs—Best Slope Coffee. The couple have a five-year-old son and enjoy hiking and paddle boarding on the river as well as traveling and attending concerts.