Converting Town Center Property into affordable housing for artists a possibility for Carbondale

An effort to develop affordable housing for Carbondale’s creative sector was busy brushing the canvas last week.

In collaboration with Space to Create Colorado, Carbondale Creative District and Carbondale Arts, the city looks to develop three buildings on a 1.4-acre property donated to the city in 2021. Space to Create Colorado is a first-in-the-nation, state-led initiative focusing on affordable housing for people in the creative sector in rural areas. 

The 14 parcels in downtown, called the Town Center Property, would turn into a mix of commercial and affordable housing units for those who meet 80-150% of area median income (AMI) for Carbondale.

In deciding how to possibly develop the property, Carbondale hosted a community open house on Sept. 20 at the Third Street Center Calaway Room. Another open house is slated for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the same location.

During the open house, project team members met with community members to obtain their input on initial sketches for development.

Project Team Member Elise Wolf said “there is a definite missing minimum” when it comes to the AMI standards affecting Carbondale.

“People who make too much money to live in affordable housing but do not make enough to buy in the free market — which captures a lot of people in the area — will be the ones who can benefit from this,” she said.

Keven Schorzman, Carbondale public work director, said the city will work with developers at Artspace Projects, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit developer for affordable spaces for artists and creative workers. Artspace began a feasibility study in Carbondale in 2017. 

The two entities will work in unison through development, building and future management in a private-public partnership. Carbondale will also look at multiple grant programs for funding. The total amount for the project is not yet available. 

“We are just starting to get the community’s feedback into what should be there [at the Town Center Property], what should it look like, what are the mix of different uses,” said Schorzman. 

Once developed, the units in all three buildings could be both for sale and rent but nothing will be known until a final design is approved. Carbondale is encouraging the public to attend these open houses to give their input on what they would like to see done regarding development. 

Schorzman said that a final design should be approved by the end of the year or early 2024.

Roaring Fork Schools set to spotlight board of education candidates

Ahead of the Nov. 7 board of education election, the Roaring Fork School District, in collaboration with the Roaring Fork Community Education Association, will host a candidate forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3, in Carbondale. 

Competing for three director positions representing districts B, C and D, the candidates in the ring for the next four years are:

  • District B: Elizabeth “Betsy” After and Alan Kokish
  • District C: Phillip Bogart and Lindsay DeFrates
  • District D: Solo contender Jasmin Ramirez

“Over the past two months, we have been focused on appropriately supporting prospective candidates through the candidate petition and certification process,” RFSD Public Information Officer and Designated Election Official Jonathan Landon said. “Now the community will have an opportunity to meet and hear directly from our five candidates as to why they are pursuing a board director role, and hear them answer a few questions to convey how they intend to approach this important opportunity.”

Anna Cole, the district’s acting superintendent, echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the board’s pivotal role in shaping the district’s vision. 

“We look forward to partnering with the Roaring Fork Community Education Association to provide this opportunity for voters to get to know school board candidates,” Cole said. “It is important our community understands candidates’ positions, interests and goals.”

As the forum approaches, residents are encouraged to seize the opportunity, get acquainted with the candidates and play a part in determining the next chapter for Roaring Fork Schools.

Upcoming film festival aims to protect Western Slope watershed

The Wild & Scenic Film Festival is coming to Glenwood Springs on Thursday, and there’s good news: tickets are still available.

The film festival, organized by the Middle Colorado Watershed Council (MCWC), is an annual fundraiser dedicated to protecting water for all uses in the watershed from Glenwood Canyon to De Beque Canyon.

“The goal of the film festival is to inspire people to take care of the watershed, to take care of our water,” said Paula Stepp, executive director for MCWC. “Water is a really precious resource … we really have to figure out how to work together cooperatively to manage it the best way we can.”

The showing of the films takes place on Sept. 28 at the Vaudeville Theater in Glenwood Springs for $25 a ticket. Doors open at 6 p.m.

The festival will feature 10 independent films of various lengths, all relating to water, the outdoors, environment or adventure. The event has a runtime of two hours, with an intermission and breaks in between to give away prizes.

Among the prizes donated from various sponsors are Aspen Ski Resort lift tickets, Iron Mountain Hot Springs day passes, Canyon Coolers, camping equipment, an inflatable kayak and much more.

“It’s good to have the engagement. It’s good to see the community so involved,” Stepp said. “We’ve got some really great sponsors that have really come forth and helped us out. This is our primary fundraiser for the year as a nonprofit, and that’s how we do the work.”

For those who prefer an alternative to attending the event in person, the films will be available for streaming from Sept. 28 to Oct. 5 for the price of a regular ticket. Those who purchase the remote streaming option will be provided a link to the films, which will be available for the listed days.

“It only takes one ticket to get the link to stream, so obviously you can have a party at your house and show it to lots of people,” Stepp said.

Children can attend, though the documentary-focus of the films may appeal more to children over the age of 8, according to Stepp.

“It’s important that we all work together to protect this resource,” Stepp said. “Community engagement makes us able to do what we do.”

MCWC’s most recent projects have been oriented toward wildfire restoration, as well as a developing wildfire collaborative to help prepare for dealing with future wildfires.

Tickets are available at the door and online at

USA Skimo enters into agreement with U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee

The United States Ski Mountaineering Association (USA Skimo) announced on Monday that it has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) to establish an Olympic high-performance program for ski mountaineering. The sport will make its Olympic Winter Games debut in Milan-Cortina in 2026.

The release stated that the agreement also “establishes the roles and responsibilities of USA Skimo and the USOPC in selecting and sending athletes to the 2026 Olympic Winter Games and competitions within the qualification pathway to the 2026 Games.”

“Formalizing our role with the USOPC represents a true inflection point for our sport. The USOPC will provide resources and expertise to our athletes, aspiring athletes, and the U.S. Ski Mountaineering community,” said Anthony Armstrong, executive director of USA Skimo.

“This partnership will take our sport to the next level of competition and professionalism.” 

The agreement contains 24 terms and conditions. The first states, “All Delegation Events and USOPC Ski Mountaineering activities for the sport of Ski Mountaineering are under the jurisdiction of the USOPC. The USOPC has the exclusive authority of athlete and staff selection criteria, and athlete nomination and entry into Delegation Events.”

Colorado is likely to supply at least a few members of the nation’s first Olympic team. Crested Butte’s Cam Smith was the first American to claim a World Cup podium in January of 2022 and headlined the Winter Mountain Games in Vail a month later. His Power of Four skimo record-holding teammate, Aspen’s John Gaston, out-dueled him in the Mountain Games individual event that February.

Both are among the six Colorado-based athletes on the 11-member U.S. senior squad. Gwen Rudy (Leadville), Hali Hafeman (Colorado Springs), Arthur Whitehead (Frisco) and John Rauen (Breckenridge) are also based in the state, as are all three U23 national team athletes, including Silverthorne’s Grace Staberg and Dillon’s Sam Burke.

Park City’s Griffin Briley, shown competing during the 2022 Winter Mountain Games in Vail, is one of the country’s promising young ski mountaineering athletes.
Ryan Sederquist/Vail Daily

“Though new to the Olympic Games program, ski mountaineering is a dynamic, fast-growing sport that also boasts more than a century of tradition,” said Rocky Harris, USOPC chief of sport & athlete services. “We are excited to welcome ski mountaineering onto the Olympic program and are excited to partner with USA Skimo to deliver results for Team USA.”

The International Olympic Committee unanimously approved adding the sport to the Milan-Cortina Olympic calendar in July 2021. According to the release, further details regarding athlete selection and resources will be made available as race calendars and IOC selection criteria become available.

To learn more about the sport and support USA Skimo, visit

Aspen Chapel Gallery teams up with Pitkin County Library for a new exhibition

Mixed media exhibition “There’s More to the Story,” will open at the Aspen Chapel Gallery on Wednesday, Oct. 4, with an artist reception from 4-7 p.m.

The show is in partnership with the Pitkin County Library: 10% of sales and 20% of sponsorships go to the non-profit to continue to provide free art classes, crafting workshops, art resources, and other materials to the community.

“The Pitkin County Library is one of Aspen’s non-profit treasures. It appeals to all ages and has enhanced programs created by the fabulous staff,” said the curator, Sam Louras. “As curator for the upcoming Aspen Chapel Gallery’s show in partnership with the Pitkin County Library, I decided that ‘There’s More to The Story’ describes not only the mixed-media artwork, but the multifaceted mixed media that is above and beyond library books. Please join the artists and library representatives for the community opening at the Aspen Chapel Gallery.”

Current workshops include Sewing 101, Bookbinding, Beading Bonanza, 3D Printer Training, and creativity workshops for tweens and teens.

The library also hosts After School Wednesdays that provide science and art-based activities for school-aged children. For those who prefer to practice art at home, the Library Lab provides crafting and art checkout kits that are free with a library card. 

Participating artists include Michael Bonds, Marsha Cook, Katalin Domoszlay, Susan Grove, Jayne Mosher, Leif Mosher, Mirjan Rosner, Jessica Salet, Dick Sundeen, Mellie Test, and Louras. This is the 245th consecutive exhibition since the gallery opened 38 years ago.

The Aspen Chapel Gallery is located in the Aspen Chapel, off the roundabout. For more information, please phone gallery co-directors Tom Ward, at 970-925-8367, Michael Bonds, at 970-925-6083, or the Aspen Chapel at 970-925-7184.

The Longevity Project: Valley residents defy age by remaining active

Editor’s note: This is the second of the series The Longevity Project, a collaboration between The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

They swim, they run, they ski, they bike.

They conquer.

There are truly some unbelievable Roaring Fork and Colorado valley residents out there who maintain fantastic physique regardless of their generation.

These ageless, ironclad athletes are not only relentless when it comes to health discipline — they’re inspirational.

For the second installment of this year’s Longevity Project, The Aspen Times and Glenwood Springs Post Independent sat down and picked the brains of some of these folks.

And what we found out is that it’s a lot easier to overcome life’s greatest challenges if you’re fit.

Fit is fantastic

When Gary Miller was faced with life-threatening illnesses, he almost gave up. But putting up a fight proved to be the best response. 

“I think a lot of people just give up, and that’s an easy trap to fall into,” he said. “The worst thing you can do is give up.” 

Originally, the Garfield County retiree said he did give up. He said he started balancing his checkbook and cleaned his garage. It was then, however, he reversed course. 

His solution: exercising.

Miller was diagnosed with kidney cancer and congestive heart failure, and his doctor didn’t sound too optimistic about his recovery. Miller was very active throughout his life but had a knee replacement surgery six months before his cancer diagnosis.

There was about a year he wasn’t able to work out, and he seemed to have the odds stacked against him, which made giving up seem so easy.

“Congestive heart failure diagnosis is almost the kiss of death,” he said. “I am very lucky and very fortunate.”

He started slowly, working himself and his heart rate up. 

“I was watching myself get more and more healthy through tracking my heart recovery rate,” Miller said. 

He said he made the doctors remove his kidney, and when they did, they were shocked it wasn’t as bad as they thought. With the cancer out of the way, his doctors said he could then focus on his heart.

Swimming and mountain biking were the treatments he needed to bring his heart back. 

“Going into a sickness being fit is so helpful,” Miller said. 

Although he didn’t start as an athlete, swimming and then mountain biking became things he loved doing.  

“I wasn’t an athlete in high school,” he said. “I started managing the (Glenwood Hot Springs Pool) and got addicted to working out and fitness. I fell in love with mountain biking.”

Starting slowly and getting a heart rate going is what he recommended for people just beginning to exercise, whether for the first time or after taking a long time away from it. 

“Building these short distances and staying with it is important,” he said. 

Warming up before extensive exercise was also recommended. For example, if someone thinks they will lose their breath on Doc Holliday’s Grave Trailhead, they should warm up by walking a couple blocks on a less-steep section beforehand, Miller said. 

“I’ve always been aware of maintaining a rapid heartbeat recovery from peak,” he said. 

And bringing your heart rate back down steadily after a good exercise is helpful for heart health. 

Breathing is also important for working up to harder forms of exercise and heart health, he said. Make sure to breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth. And don’t hold your breath, he said.

“I really feel like I stumbled onto a process of recovery from congestive heart failure that worked for me,” Miller said. “At 76 years old, I consider myself pretty darn athletic.” 

Formidable Frenchy

Attitude goes a long way in staying healthy late in life, and nobody embodies that better than longtime Roaring Fork Valley resident Jacques “Frenchy” Houot.

A passionate skier and cyclist who was competing in Aspen Cycling Club events into his 80s — he officially “retired” from competition in recent years — his journey to becoming one of the area’s most passionate racers was showcased in a short documentary called “The Frenchy” by Michelle Smith, which made its debut in 2018.

A geared up Jacques “Frenchy” Houot.
Courtesy photo

“I am 41-years-old, each leg,” Houot said in the film, which documents him skiing shirtless, biking technical terrain, pedaling a fat-tire bike through snow, paragliding, and offering nuggets of wisdom from his Carbondale home.

In talking with The Aspen Times around the film’s release, he credited laughter with being what’s kept him going all these years. He admitted to surviving cancer, a heart attack, an avalanche, and numerous crashes.

A nagging back injury, he said in the film, was cured by volunteering at a disabled military veterans’ ski race at Aspen Highlands.

“They don’t complain,” he said then. “I said to myself, ‘I don’t have a right to complain.’ … Then I said, ‘No problem!’ to my back. That fixed me.”

Even when not competing, Houot could always be found near the course, cheering racers on, whether that be on skis or a bike. His continued enthusiasm for the sports — not to mention his distinct accent — is part of what drew Smith to want to focus on Houot for the documentary. As Smith recalled, he was eager to share his life story and his unique health remedies — often arriving at her home unannounced to impart wisdom, tell jokes, chat about his day, or discuss the latest World Cup results.

“The energy was infectious,” he said then. “He is just nonstop.”

“I want people to think that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can still do what you want with your life, have fun, and laugh,” Smith added. “That’s the most important thing. … You can defy aging if you have the right attitude.”

Not just another day

As the brisk morning air fills the Roaring Fork Valley, 62-year-old Mike Vidakovich embarks on a run that challenges many half his age. This isn’t a new pursuit; it’s a testament to a lifetime of athletic tenacity and a steadfast dedication to well-being.

“I’ve been lucky when I was a sophomore in high school here playing basketball. I had to have minor knee surgery over Christmas break, but I was right back out on the court like three weeks later,” he said.

Despite the years and various sports he’s engaged in, injuries have been few. When they have occurred, his recovery approach combined advice, intuition, and a dose of patience.

Mike Vidakovich, right, stands alongside Rick Chavez before competing in the Pyro’s Trail Run in 2022.
Courtesy photo

“I just seek advice from people who have had similar little setbacks and just try to do the rehabilitation,” he said, referencing a previous leg ailment. “I would still go out and jog for a little ways. And then I’d walk when it started to tighten up.”

Beyond the occasional injury, his commitment to fitness isn’t just about physical prowess. It’s also a mental game.

“I’ve always enjoyed exercise, especially the anaerobic stuff like distance running,” Vidakovich said. “I like to see how far I can push myself.”

For him, age is just a number. He remains the oldest player in the Rifle co-ed softball league and stays active with regular stints at the athletic club. His morning ritual often includes runs near West Glenwood, pushing himself up challenging terrains, and reflecting by a creek.

His advice for those looking to stay active as they age? Don’t stop.

“There’s no stopping,” Vidakovich said. “I’ll be 63 in November, and it’s much more difficult to try to come back if I stop now. I just enjoy it. Movement, runs, softball, golf. Part of it I may even call competitiveness, but I feel I was born to push myself, and I enjoy doing it.”

And perhaps that’s the secret. Every morning he wakes up in the Roaring Fork Valley, it’s not just another day. It’s a bonus, another opportunity to push limits and savor life’s vibrant pulse.

Channeling energy

Sheldon Wolitski’s story is one of transformation. At 51, his earlier years on the hockey rinks during high school and college came with a cost: lingering shoulder injuries that forced him to quit the game by his sophomore year. 

“The impact on my body became overwhelming,” he said.

Now, with a household bustling with five children under the age of 9, he’s channeled his energy into a pursuit of longevity and optimal living.

“The injuries from my hockey days set a trajectory. Longevity is now front and center for me,” he said. “At 51, living an optimal life has taken precedence.”

Sheldon Wolitski stands next to a multi-person hyperbaric chamber, one of many machines he uses to help his body recover and increase longevity.
Courtesy photo

As the founder and president of Colorado Xtreme Hockey, Wolitski’s commitment to health isn’t just a personal endeavor. His home is a testament to this, featuring wellness tools like hyperbaric chambers, cold therapy units, a 210-degree sauna and red light therapy.

“After hockey, I started competing in Ironman competitions. By my eighth competition, I started to understand the importance of recovery,” he said. “From there, focusing on longevity, especially as an older father, was a clear path.”

His vision expanded to the workplace when he founded Aspen HPX, an organization welded to assist those looking for a healthy lifestyle. There, a study aimed at employee wellness and peak performance yielded impressive results — a 35% increase in performance for employees involved with organization compared to their counterparts.

“Taking care of oneself has tangible benefits, both professionally and personally,” he observed.

For those keen on emulating his approach, Wolitski points to Tony Robbins’ novel “Lifeforce” as a starting guide. He’s also a staunch advocate for functional integrative medicine, emphasizing its holistic and preventive perspective.

“The healthcare landscape is evolving. A holistic, preventive approach is the future,” Wolitski said. “Grasping one’s biomarkers and connecting with the right medical experts can redefine health.”

For the former hockey player, the pursuit of longevity is a game worth playing, and in the Roaring Fork Valley, he’s seizing each day with purpose.

The next Longevity Project event is slated for 5:30-7 p.m. on Oct. 4 at The Arts Campus At Willits (TACAW), 400 Robinson St., Basalt. The panel is titled, “How to maintain mobility, balance, and athleticism throughout life” and will feature experts in the field.

Tickets can be purchased at

Longevity QR code
Longevity QR code


Snowmass in Brief: Community party; Village Shuttle fall schedule

Community party for Snowmass Chapel pastor

After 15 years of service at the Snowmass Chapel and within the Snowmass Village community, the Rev. Dr. Robert de Wetter announced his retirement from his position as Senior Pastor as of Nov. 1. The chapel would like to invite the community to a party in honor of him on Saturday, Sept. 30, from 4-6 p.m. Food and drink will be provided. Western wear is encouraged.

Robert’s last Sunday preaching will be Oct. 29 at Snowmass Chapel at 9 a.m. 

Blessing of the Animals’ at Snowmass Chapel

The annual “Blessing of the Animals” is this Sunday, Oct. 1, at 11:30 a.m. at Snowmass Chapel. The community is invited to bring the dogs, cats, bunnies, and horses to participate. The event is precious and always chaotic in a ritual just for the animal friends.  

Village Shuttle fall schedule

The Village Shuttle fall season service schedules begin on Monday, Sept. 25.

All Village Shuttle in-town service will operate by request for the fall season service schedule to accommodate delays caused by construction project detours. Those served by Village Shuttle Route #3 will need to call the Village Shuttle request number (970) 923-3500 between 6:50 a.m.–midnight.

Snowmass Village is also served by several multi-modal options. Multi-use paths run throughout the town, and the Village Shuttle connects to regional transit services provided by the Roaring Fork Transit Authority. Bike-share is available in town via WE-cycle. Bicycle information is available at

Schedules may be viewed online at

Questions and comments may be directed to the Transportation Department at 970-923-2543 or

2023 Town Picnic

A community favorite returns to Snowmass Village this autumn! Join your neighbors, friends, and fellow Villagers on Saturday, Oct. 7, on the pool deck at the Snowmass Village Recreation Center from noon-2 p.m. for the 2023 Town Picnic.

The Town of Snowmass Village will provide burgers, hot dogs, and a vegetarian main. In addition to free food, there will be free, all-day access to the entire recreation center.

This event is open to all members of the community. Everyone is encouraged to enjoy a great day at the Snowmass Village Recreation Center.

For more information, please visit

Aspen Police secure arrest warrants in 2021 Louis Vuitton burglary case

Aspen Police Department have secured arrest warrants for two men in connection with the 2021 burglary at Aspen’s Louis Vuitton store, located at 206 South Mill Street.

Mauricio Andres Gandolfi Bahamondes, 37, and Diego Hernan Enrique Reyes Bahamondes, 33, have been charged with second-degree burglary, class 4 felony; theft, class 3 felony, conspiracy, class 6 felony; and criminal mischief, class 1 misdemeanor. 

According to a press release, both men are Chilean citizens, and are currently on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer at the Downtown Detention Center in Nashville, TN, where they were arrested for aggravated burglary. Both men have a $100,000 bond for those charges, as well as each carrying a $500,000 bond for the charges in Aspen. 

Aspen Detective Sgt. Rick Magnuson told city officials that the Colorado Information Analysis Center shared a burglary bulletin with all other states. From there, a detective in Brentwood, TN, saw the bulletin, which is what Magnuson said eventually led to a “big break in the case.”

When the two suspects were apprehended for allegedly breaking into a residence in Brentwood, their rental car vehicle was detected through a license plate reader.

Additionally, Kansas State Patrol pulled Bahamoondes over for speeding, which helped with identification due to the officer’s body camera showing his face, as well as a distinctive tattoo on his arm, which was visible on the Enterprise Rental Car surveillance footage obtained in Denver.

“Securing these arrest warrants marks a significant advancement in our ongoing investigation. The diligence of our team, in collaboration with other agencies, has been pivotal,” stated Aspen Police Chief Kim Ferber. “I also want to underscore the invaluable role that our community has played. Their prompt response to our video surveillance request was instrumental in reaching this critical milestone.”

Magnuson said in a statement police obtained video footage from not only Louis Vuitton, but also Wheeler Opera House, Aspen Jewish Center, Panerai Aspen, the Aspen Store, Enterprise Rental Car in Denver, and RFTA to help assist in the investigation.

Between the hours of 8:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. on June 5, 2021, the two suspects reportedly entered an unlocked hallway in the back of the Louis Vuitton store and proceeded to use an unspecified cutting tool to a hole in the drywall to gain access into the storeroom, according to police. 

The suspects were said to be in the store for approximately an hour before leaving with $439,000 worth of merchandise. 

The following morning, after employees discovered that the store had been burglarized, surveillance video was examined and two rental vehicles were identified as being used by the suspects. 

The surveillance footage also showed a woman who appeared to have been involved in the burglary, as well. As of Monday, police were unable to comment as to whether it’s believed additional suspects are still at large.

The Aspen Police Department investigations teams worked with the Colorado Information Analysis Center, Kansas State Patrol, and the Brentwood Police Department in Brentwood Tennessee to determine the identity of the two suspects.

Every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent unless and until his or her guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Aspen announces adjusted fall public transit schedule

As of Monday through Sunday, Nov. 19, Aspen will implement its adjusted fall schedule for Aspen-area RFTA routes and public transit services. The revised timetable offers reduced hours on key bus routes and bolstered late-night taxi services, aiming to meet the needs of the Aspen community effectively.

“As we roll out our updated fall schedule, we urge the community to be aware that evening adjustments could impact riders the most,” said William Porter, City of Aspen communications director. “To ease your commute, the city is offering complimentary late-night taxi services on Fridays and Saturdays in collaboration with High Mountain Taxi. Alternatively, consider cycling as a sustainable and scenic option this fall.”

Streamlined Hours on Specific Routes:

Effective Sept. 25, several Aspen bus routes within the RFTA system will adjust to abbreviated operating hours:

  • Castle/Maroon Route, Cemetery Lane Route, Hunter Creek Route, and Mountain Valley Route will operate from 7 a.m. until 12 a.m. On Sundays, these routes will be available from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m.
  • The Burlingame Service will run daily from 6:35 a.m. to 12:20 a.m.

Enhanced Late-Night Taxi Service:

In collaboration with High Mountain Taxi, Aspen will offer complimentary late-night taxi services on Fridays and Saturdays for the fall season. These taxis will depart from Rubey Park at 12:30 a.m., 1 a.m., 1:30 a.m., and 2 a.m., taking passengers to any Aspen Bus Stop to make late-night commutes more convenient.

Please be aware:

  • The late-night taxi service is not a door-to-door service.
  • For queries regarding the late-night taxi service, dial 970-925-TAXI.
  • For all-inclusive transit details, including schedules and routes, consult

The Longevity Project: Stretching the limits of lifelong mobility from sidewalks to Olympic tracks

Editor’s note: This is the first of The Longevity Project series, a collaboration between The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

When Olympian Jeanne Golay recalls her racing days, her emphasis isn’t just on winning championships or representing her country in the Barcelona and Atlanta Games. For Golay, the daily commitment to movement was and remains her secret weapon.

“I aim for at least an hour of exercise per day, preferably biking,” Golay said. “A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself, ‘Can I accomplish this task on a bike?’ If the answer is yes, then you should do so for your health.”

The Roaring Fork Valley resident, 61, who holds three U.S. National Road Race Championships and was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 2008, believes in the importance of consistent movement.

“Daily movement, even if it’s just a short walk of a few blocks,” Golay said. “Navigating variable terrain like sidewalk curbs and inclines helps to maintain balance and coordination. I’m trying to do more high-impact activities like hiking and walking, given that age and menopause contribute to a decline in bone density.”

But what of those who aren’t Olympians or professional athletes? Is there a simpler regimen they can adopt to maintain their fitness, balance, and mobility?

Danelle Docken, a doctor of physical therapy at Grand River Health, thinks so.

“One of the biggest challenges I see, especially as people age, is just the ability to stay moving,” Docken said. “Our bodies are a use-it-or-lose-it system.”

To aid in the quest for lifelong mobility, Docken recommends a series of simple stretches.

“First, focus on your calf muscles by getting into that runner’s pose up against a wall and stretching the calf,” Docken said. “A seated hamstring stretch is great for balance. Sit with one leg extended out and lean forward to work that back hamstring muscle and glute.”

For spinal mobility, Docken suggests a cat-cow seated position. 

“Sit upright, open your arms out wide, then bring them around as if hugging a barrel,” Docken said. “This benefits your cervical spine down to your sacral region. Also, work on some posterior and anterior hip tilting for balance and mobility.”

Lastly, arm stretches can improve posture. 

“Try simple doorway or corner PEC stretches. Ensure your hands are below your shoulders and lean into a doorway to open up the chest,” Docken said. “These stretches can go a long way in helping keep your mobility and balance and also strengthen your posture.”

But it’s not just about stretches. As Docken highlights, the sedentary lifestyle can be a silent killer.

“It can happen so quickly,” Docken said. “Someone can get sick, lay down for a week, and the body needs to revamp its energy. But you start to lose muscle mass so quickly.”

To shift perceptions of exercise, Docken suggests a linguistic tweak.

“Exercise is viewed as such a negative word. It’s like the word ‘diet,'” Docken said. “Nobody wants to do it. Just moving a little bit more, even if it means walking from your doorstep to the end of your driveway and back up, that’s day one. Exercise doesn’t have to be done all at once.”

As for Golay, she believes in the power of repetition and adaptation.

“Our bodies are truly amazing, especially our capacity for adaptation,” Golay said. “Getting in shape is the result of creating new habits and perpetuating them over time. My muscles were sore at the start of each day’s stage, but once warmed up, I felt like a well-tuned Ferrari.”

Both Docken and Golay agree: Whether you’re an Olympian or just someone looking to stay mobile, the journey to lifelong fitness starts with daily movement.

The next Longevity Project event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 4, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at TACAW. The panel is titled “How to maintain mobility, balance and athleticism throughout life” and will feature experts in the field. For more information and to buy tickets, go to