Life On Two Wheels: Around the world with Christina McGrath of Swell Fit Living
Share your bike story
Bikes are like books: They open up entirely new worlds. So where has your bike taken you? French Creek? A tour of Europe? The heights of Nepal? If you or someone you know spends countless hours in the saddle every summer — and have the memories to prove it — send a note to sports editor Phil Lindeman at email@example.com to be featured in an upcoming edition of Life on 2 Wheels.
Editor’s note: For countless Summit County residents, a bicycle is more than a machine — it’s a lifestyle. Every week during the summer, we’ll ask our most adventurous residents, “Where has your bike taken you?”
Christina McGrath is a master at synchronizing the body and mind.
Over the years, the longtime Breckenridge local’s enthusiasm for wellness and outdoor recreation has evolved into a multi-faceted entrepreneurship. Her company, Swell Fit Living, focuses on health coaching through personalized programs that include yoga, diet and fitness.
After analyzing various components of an individual’s health — the physiological, metabolic and Ayurvedic aspects — McGrath then creates the perfect diet and exercise plan for her client.
You might wonder: How did McGrath learn these correlations, and why is she so willing to share them? Simple: Her dedication to understanding the human mind and body stemmed from her desire to live a healthy life.
Since the early ’90s, road and mountain biking have been two of McGrath’s core passionsw and both have influenced her passion for wellness and fitness.
“I can’t imagine life without my bike and I will do anything to stay on my bike,” she says. “It’s so important to me. It brings exploration and adventure of trails, countries and roads.”
Now a resident of New Zealand for the majority of each year, McGrath has been an active mountain and road biker in Summit County since 1995. Like many people drawn to Summit, McGrath first came to Breckenridge for snowboarding.
“Living in the mountains is like having a constant menu to choose from,” McGrath says. “You are able to try everything — paddling, biking, snow sports, climbing, hiking, running — and choose a few things that you really love.”
For McGrath, biking quickly became a favorite “dish” on the Rocky Mountain sports menu. McGrath was introduced to biking by her boyfriend and has since expanded upon her immense passion for the sport.
“As we started to do more rides in Moab and Fruita, I really started to get seriously into biking,” she says. “I started to love the bike without the boyfriend.”
McGrath began to ride a lot — every day and everywhere she possibly could. Her first mountain-bike experience was on Breckenridge’s Peak 8 trails, and she has now biked in many other states and countries.
But her favorite trails in the world are still the local trails in Breckenridge. The Blue River, Pennsylvania Gulch and Indiana Gulch trails are some of her absolute favorites, especially in the fall. McGrath rides her bicycle almost everywhere, so much that people easily recognize her bike as much as her.
In New Zealand, where she now resides for most of the year, her friends believed she didn’t own a car. Riding is her main mode of transportation — to see McGrath in the driver’s seat of her car is a rarity.
“Biking is the best way to see everything,” McGrath says. “Sometimes running is too slow and cars are too fast. Riding is the perfect in-between.”
When McGrath isn’t traveling by two wheels she is on two feet. Also an avid runner, she has completed a half-Ironman and five marathons, as well as countless half marathons.
With so much physical exertion, McGrath uses yoga to balance and restore her body. In 2011, she earned her 500-plus hour yoga certification from Nosara Yoga Institute. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and environmental studies, along with degrees in outdoor leadership and health coaching. She’s also a certified sports massage therapist.
“This has been a huge schooling in the way the body works,” she says. “It’s a huge evolution that developed out of my need to stay healthy. I wanted to make sure I was never injured, that I was in the best shape. I wanted to learn more about how I could make that happen.”
As McGrath learned more about her sporting passions, she became more serious about protecting those passions. Not only did she want to improve her personal physical strength — she wanted to be a resource for others.
“Because I love biking and running so much, I wanted others to perform at their peak abilities for their lives,” she says. “So I combined everything I’d learned about yoga and nutrition to bring people success.”
McGrath educates others about wellness using yoga, fitness, food and natural care strategies. She teaches yoga in Breckenridge, where she tries to include tips and tricks for athletes in each practice.
Along with her yoga classes and health coaching, McGrath also offers multi-day retreats. In 2017, she will lead mountain-bike adventures in New Zealand, along with fitness and yoga retreats in Bali.
“What I do with my business is help people reach their peak performance through healthy living,” McGrath says. “This is really for everyday people who want to have change in their lives. Or, it’s for people that have reached a plateau and need improvement. It’s all about betterment.”
McGrath has made a career out of intense passion, and she is constantly gaining more knowledge and experience. Like she did when she moved to Breckenridge for snowboarding, she still travels in pursuit of her passions and the epic biking trails in New Zealand brought McGrath there to stay.
“Biking brings me so much freedom,” she says. “It’s brought me friends. It’s taken me across the world, to New Zealand. It’s allowed me to experience so many things. It gives me the chills — it’s my life and passion.”
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