Walter & Lauren Hafner
Written by Hope DeLaRue
Walter and Lauren Hafner met at the 2017 Paddlefest in Buena Vista, CO. Though neither were originally from the area they each found Chaffee County on their individual life journeys and had fully embraced and immersed themselves into the available outdoor activities as well as the community. They were then and are still continually finding time to be out on the river, rock climbing or hiking together or with friends. Their commitment to the outdoors and their fitness continued as they set out together, living in a camper while Walter worked as a traveling physical therapist and Lauren built her own graphic design business. While on the road, they were afforded the chance to try living in new places and connecting with people in new communities. They consistently found “The Box” (a common term describing a CrossFit gym) in each town, providing a friendly place to stay fit and make friends.
Nodding at one another and smiling they recall the decision to make Buena Vista their permanent home so they could raise a family in a small town with easy access to the natural world they cherish. “I think it’s the people and the community,” Lauren says of Buena Vista, “It takes a village to raise a child, so we found our village.” Walter adds that “And just driving 10 minutes to go climbing…this is pretty sweet.”
They also decided to bring the physical, mental and community benefits of CrossFit to the town they’ve made their home. Alight with enthusiasm for their gym, Fortitude Fitness, they take turns describing plans. Bringing physical therapy and CrossFit classes focused on holistic body awareness to people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. “Now, as we’re starting the CrossFit gym, [we’re] starting to create even more of a passion of getting people to be more active through working out so they can keep doing the outdoor things they want to do, you know, or as they get older they can keep playing with their grandkids… it’s always something that we’ve enjoyed doing for ourselves and now we're getting a lot of satisfaction bringing it to other people,” Walter explains with a smile. Their goal is to help people stay strong and healthy so they are able to continue doing all the activities they love outside of The Box.
The anticipated summer 2023 opening of the Hafner’s gym, Fortitude Fitness, is a big focus, but when they’re not working on The Box they can most often be found sharing their love for the outdoors with their young daughter.