Colorado Altitude Training’s client list reads much like the beginnings of a potentially offensive joke: Lance Armstrong, Sheikh Mohammed of the United Arab Emirates, the Navy Seals and the star-spangled banner walk into a bar…
But there is no punchline, and really, this is no joke.
The Louisville-based business has compiled a clientele that is as varied as they come—from pro athletes and Olympians to the Mayo Clinic and the military. What could possibly connect such an odd assortment of people, groups and objects? The method of training and/or living in a simulated altitude environment to improve performance.
Research has long shown that athletes who train or sleep at higher altitudes can benefit from the exposure to lower oxygen levels. The human body can adapt to the relative lack of oxygen and increase its concentration of red blood cells. Red blood cells can then carry oxygen to the muscles, boosting aerobic power and endurance at lower altitudes. While some say this controversial method isn’t effective, studies on altitude training have shown as much as a 3 percent boost in performance. Countless endurance athletes are devoted to the oxygen tents that hang over their beds; some organizations have even transformed entire dormitories or workout facilities into simulated-altitude environments.
With this in mind, Colorado Altitude Training began to develop about a decade ago systems that simulate higher and lower altitudes—basically, duplicating reduced or increased oxygen availability found at any altitude. Depending on the wants and needs of their clients, they can create tents or rooms in which people can train or sleep. They can transform an entire bedroom, or, even, build into a controlled breathing experience.
“We can make altitude anytime we want, in any room we want,” said Larry Kutt of Colorado Altitude Training.
Before Kutt was Larry Kutt of Colorado Altitude Training, he was Professor Kutt, a CU entrepreneurship instructor. He was a climber and endurance athlete with an interest in altitude’s impacts on athletes. One day, a former student told him about research on the advantages of living at a high altitude and training at a low altitude, known as “live high, train low.” To make it accessible, one requires a devise to optimize altitude simulation, Kutt thought.
“And all of a sudden, we were in the attitude simulation business,” he said.