I tend to revisit health and fitness goals each January (after holiday indulgence). But this month, instead of “I’m going to lose five pounds” or “I’m going to the gym 5 days a week,” I’m simply committing to a “wellness activity” every day in January. Though my daily wellness activities will often feature fitness classes (because I’m addicted to the offerings at my local studio – see Days 3 and 5), I believe massages, facials and other spa services absolutely fall under the wellness category. I look forward to showcasing some of my favorite healthy things to do in my neck of the world; I live in the mountains — at 7,000 feet exactly — between Aspen and Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and already my wellness endeavors have taken me to either end of the Roaring Fork Valley. Nutritious recipes, FitBit steps, hydrotherapy… I’m thinking these will factor into my #31daysofwellness, too.
To stay accountable, I’m sharing daily updates on Twitter and Instagram, then recapping each week here. If you’ve got some ideas for me to consider weaving into my wellness agenda, just leave a comment below!
Day 1: Hiking and sledding.
I started the new year the same way I ended 2016: on a winter hike with my husband. On January 1, we strapped on our YaxTrax and headed out our backdoor to hike 3.5 miles on a quiet trail that loops from our house through Bureau of Land Management (public) land and back to our property again. We gain nearly 1,000 feet in elevation on this hike, and it’s rolling, so there’s plenty of incline, but also some nice straightaways and downhills, too. For this New Year’s Day hike my husband — for the first time in 16 years that we’ve lived here and hiked this trail year-round — brought along a plastic sled. So, we squished on the sled together for some of the downhill portions and laughed ourselves silly.
Day 2: SoulCycle.
This indoor-cycling phenomenon came to downtown Aspen for two weeks during the holiday season. I’d heard about this high-energy spin class from pals who live on the West Coast, and didn’t want to miss sampling it while this “pop-up” SoulCycle studio was only 30 minutes from my house. I got my exercise-loving pal Kristina to give the class a whirl with me. Yes, each individual Aspen class cost $40 but I figured I’d splurge in the name of research. The class was FUN. And, thankfully, only 45 minutes. Because it was HARD. And in the dark. Picture 50 spin bikes placed very close together in small, dimly-lit quarters. It was also HOT. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much in a fitness class. Ever. But the instructor was fun and upbeat and motivating — and called out instructions while dancing around the room as rap and dance songs played. I’m used to spin classes where you just… spin. But in SoulCycle classes you do tricep presses, you pulse, you do side bends, and you’re up out of the saddle a lot. There are also some light weights for arm work. At one point our instructor called out, “I don’t hear you singing! C’mon. This is karaoke AND cardio!” Cardio indeed. I finished the class super sweaty, red-faced and with more curls in my hair than I typically see when I travel to humid Mexico. Well worth the $40 for the entertainment factor. Kristina and I topped off our SoulCycle class with a vegetarian lunch at Peaches Corner Cafe, with quinoa cakes, noodle bowls and quinoa bowls on the menu. Yum.
Day 3: BODYPUMP at Burn.
I’m forever grateful that longtime local Denise Latousek opened Burn Fitness Studio in downtown Basalt in the spring of 2014. I got hooked on the enthusiastic instructors and new-to-me classes (BODYPUMP, BootyBarre, TRX) right away, and have been a faithful client ever since. I truly enjoy all of the instructors and the energy they bring to class, and I’m so glad there is a variety of classes that are offered weekly — more than 40, from yoga and Pilates to strength-training and cardio. One class that is especially coveted by many weight-lifting devotees is Tuesday morning’s BODYPUMP class with Stephanie. This firecracker of an instructor always makes me feel so good about just showing up. She’s encouraging and happy, and always leads an incredible strength-training workout that hits every major muscle group. I love the class, and was happy to get into it this week — it’s such a popular class that if you don’t sign up early enough to snag one of the 13 spots, you’ll get shut out. As I told Denise recently, “I always look forward to class, and I always feel better when I leave.” You’ll see a lot of Burn classes listed as my “daily wellness activities” this month!
Day 4: Organic rice.
Wednesdays are work days when I’m out of the house from at least 7:30am to 4:00pm. I’m thinking Wednesdays won’t be the most exciting when it comes to this month’s wellness activities, at the least I’m going to try to get my 10,000 FitBit steps in (I work in a library and am often on my feet) and pack a healthy lunch. Today I sampled one of the Healtheee USA organic brown rice bowls that were sent to me to try. While I liked the sweet coconut flavor of this microwaveable bowl of two servings (but who’s kidding whom, I ate the whole thing – with some chopped grilled chicken mixed in), I found it a bit dry. I may have nuked it a little too long.
Day 5: MOI Cycle at Burn.
My weekly MOI Cycle classes at Burn Fitness Studio in Basalt are decidedly different from the SoulCycle I’d sampled in Aspen: at Burn, we have only nine bikes, plenty of circulating air, and we can always see our instructor (i.e. it’s not uber-dark in the studio). Every week the ride is different — focusing on intervals, strength, endurance or “race day,” but we always keep an eye on heart rates (aiming to be in certain zones at certain times) and ride together with the same RPMs (revolutions per minute) to upbeat music that correlates with the riding tempo. This is one fitness class I never get tired of because the rides, and music, change weekly. We’re never bored!
Day 6: Massage.
“We do away with decadent amenities and lavish services in order to make massage accessible more often” is the motto for Simply Massage, a Colorado-based chain of day spas — and I use that term loosely, as all they do, simply, is massage. Services here are straightforward, but good and inexpensive. I bought a package of 5 one-hour massage sessions up front to get one free. Otherwise it’s just $75 for an hour massage (really, 50 minutes on the table), which is a steal in Colorado mountain resort towns. No steam rooms, saunas, or other foofy stuff at the Glenwood Springs location (in the Glenwood Meadows retail center) — you just get undressed and get a great rubdown on a heated table. And that’s cool with me. It certainly fit the bill this week!
Day 7: Snowshoe hike.
Fresh snow this week and below-freezing temperatures didn’t stop my husband and I from getting out there on the trails today. We strapped on snowshoes for the first time this winter season and headed out our back door to the same trail we hit on Day 1. No sleds this time, just a lot of trudging through untracked powder while the thermometer hovered around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m feeling very lucky to live where I do, where outdoor activity is so easy to enjoy, no matter what the weather.