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Local gym organizes memorial workout in honor of Littleton soldier who died in combat

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By Deborah Swearingen

Hours before the barbecues, parades and family fun kicked off, 303 Strength and Conditioning in Littleton celebrated the Fourth of July in a much different way.

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More than 20 people paid their respects to a fallen hero while sweating it out in a special workout. The workout, which includes 10 rounds of pull-ups, push-ups, kettlebell swings and a 200-meter run, honors Danny Dietz, a Navy Seal from Littleton who died in 2005 while fighting in the war in Afghanistan. Dietz is one of the soldiers featured in the 2013 film “Lone Survivor.”

This particular memorial workout is a tradition at 303 Strength and Conditioning, and gym owners say it’s an important way to remember Dietz and others who gave their lives while serving in the military. The gym offers memorial workouts such as this one for free to all community members.

“It’s our way of trying to give back. It’s a great way to get the community involved,” said Derek Couse, 303 co-owner and coach. “We’re a really community-based gym anyways.

“It’s something people feel like they can do to kind of pay tribute.”

After completing a warm-up run, participants jumped right in. With each push-up and kettlebell swing, Denise Bickel took time to reflect. The 66-year-old said she already appreciates the inclusiveness of 303 Strength and Conditioning, but the workout on July 4th was particularly special.

“It reminds us how grateful and blessed we are to live in America,” she said. “It’s hard, but it’s nothing compared to what the military is doing.”

Bickel wasn’t the only one affected by the spirit of the Danny Dietz memorial workout. The Fourth of July was the second time Kevin Huaman exercised at 303 Strength and Conditioning, and he appreciated the significance of the holiday and the memorial workout.

“It’s really important for me to be here honoring him,” he said.

It’s especially meaningful for him since Dietz was local, and Huaman grew up with people who were friends with the Navy Seal who died in combat.

The Danny Dietz memorial workout was a challenge for most, but the difficulty helped put it into perspective for Angelina Rainaldi. She said the intensity of the workout allowed her to “suffer a tiny portion” of what those in the military face daily.

As participants completed the workout, they mingled in the gym and enjoyed celebratory mimosas. Then, they headed out for traditional Fourth of July fun knowing they’d done something positive — and burned off a burger or two.

Contact reporter Deborah Swearingen at dswearingen@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Follow her on Twitter @djswearingen.