At Jean-Robert’s Gym in Aspen, the path toward ultimate fitness begins with posture
Jean-Robert Barbette’s mission at his namesake gym in Aspen is to help members slow down the aging process through smart exercise that focuses on posture.
Posture is so important in today’s world because there are so many things working against it, Barbette said.
“People are bent over for hours a day. You bend, hunch over your phone, the computer, while skiing — everything is forward,” he said. “The body alignment is completely violated.”
Working out smart requires focus and knowledge of the body’s movements and functions. With so many fitness options these days, Barbette is as passionate as ever about providing a fitness environment that has members’ best interests at heart. That’s why you won’t find a retail store or expensive rates at Jean-Robert’s Gym. He’s not interested in fitness as a social event, either — he believes fitness should be more meaningful than that. “I’m in this business to help people and to make it affordable,” he said.
From personal training to group fitness, posture rules
At Jean-Robert’s Gym, posture is the foundation of everything they do. Every class or personal training session is taught with intention, backed by the knowledge and training that Barbette provides to his staff.
Group classes include yoga, high intensity interval training, circuit training, boxing, dancing and even stretching classes.
“When you’re a member, all of those classes are free,” Barbette said. “We want every member to be able to accomplish a complete workout program.”
Every personal trainer at Jean-Robert’s Gym makes sure members don’t do any exercise that can ultimately hurt their posture. Barbette said it irritates him to see so many men focusing only on chest and biceps workouts because those workouts are only aiding bad posture.
“It’s OK to do a little of it, but you should be doing 2 to 3 back workouts for every chest workout,” he said.
That’s because the body is pressing forward all day — sitting at a desk, looking at a phone, skiing, biking, hiking — it’s all forward-motion.
“It creates this incredible tightness on the front of the body,” he said. “You need to counter-balance. You need weight resistance training with machines, and to work the muscles in your back. You need to be completely strong so your body doesn’t continue to come forward.”
With poor posture, the shoulders and hips suffer most. It’s why you often see older people who appear to be permanently hunched over due to years of poor posture that can no longer be corrected.
“What’s your vision for what you want to look like when your 60, 70, 80,” Barbette said. “We cannot violate those joints.”
What you won’t find at Jean-Robert’s Gym are group fitness classes that keep the heart rate high for long periods of time. You might sweat a lot, burn calories and get a good cardiovascular workout, but there negatives, too.
“That’s never been our thing,” he said. “When you keep your heart rate so high, you don’t burn fat, you only burn sugar. You need to have a very specific heart rate to burn fat efficiently.”
Long periods of cardio exercise that keep the heart rate up causes sugar cravings for things like bread, pasta and other simple sugars.
“You want to replace the sugar because it’s what you burned,” he said. “When you get to the point where you have no more sugar to burn, the body starts to break down muscle tissue.”
Losing muscle is bad news for many reasons, specifically because muscle helps burn fat, but also because muscle loss leads to bad posture. He said anyone doing high intensity cardio workouts for long periods of time should at least watch their nutrition after the workout.
“Eat only protein for the first two hours after one of these classes,” he said. “Don’t eat any sugar to replace what you just burned.”
New Jean-Robert’s Gym in Willits
This summer, Barbette is opening a new Jean-Robert’s Gym in Willits. Members at both the Aspen and Willits gyms will have unlimited access to both gyms. The Willits location will also offer body work, chiropracty, physical therapy and massage services but at a smaller scale than what’s offered in Aspen.
The membership is $75 per month with no initiation or annual fees. You pay first and last month to sign up. In Aspen, members who want access to the top floor of the gym — which is quieter and offers beautiful mountain views — pay $135 per month.
Barbette said 62 percent of his existing Aspen members live downvalley and he wants to provide options for working out both close to home and close to work. With 12,000 square feet at his Aspen space and no room to grow, he’s exciting to be bringing members another 7,000 square feet in Willits.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.