| AspenTimes.com

Sustainable living isn’t just about the environment, it’s about smart consumerism

When Alin Turcea and Antonia Pitica recognized the significance of plastic products in their everyday lives, they felt compelled to do something about it. 

Bags for produce, groceries, to-go cups, toothbrushes, water bottles — these items are a part of our everyday lives, and they’re almost always plastic. 

What if they could create these products for people who cared about living more sustainably for the sake of our planet, while also educating consumers everywhere about the importance of our individual actions? 

“We had a lightbulb moment, and we began reading about climate change to see what we could do to develop habits that were better for the environment,” Alin said. “We started EcoRoots when we realized how much of an impact consumerism was having on our lives and the lives of those around us.”

By creating this minimalist, earth-conscious brand, Alin and Antonia aim to encourage an economy that considers the future. They want consumers to have the power to choose, through the products they buy and use, what kind of world they want to live in.

“As we did our research, we realized that we had been making many of our choices out of convenience, without considering the consequences,” Antonia said. “We knew that, in order to ask other people to change, we needed to change first. So, the first step we took toward our new lifestyle was simply refusing what we didn’t really need.” 

Here are some of the reasons that making these small steps can not only change the way you live your life for the better, but also positively impact the environment..

Future generations

Alin and Antonia feel personally responsible to do their part to address pollution and climate change for future generations. Climate change is one of the most significant issues we’ll face in our lifetime, Antonia said.

“We have to consider how devastating the effects of plastic consumption are on our already fragile environment, including our oceans and marine life, but also our own health and well-being, too,” he said. “We can all make changes to ensure that our children and grandchildren aren’t left to clean up the mess we’ve made.”

Small steps are easy

Activities such as brushing your teeth or shopping at a grocery store are habits for most people. We do these things without thinking much about them, but what if the products you used didn’t end up harming marine life or clogging up landfills? What if you could use products as a consumer that actually meant something?

“It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re trying to change habits that you’ve had your whole life, but the key is being patient, and knowing that real change won’t happen overnight,” Alin said. “There are many small steps that you can take if you’re just starting out on this journey, and these small habits will become second-nature overtime.”

Alin and Antonia started their sustainably living journey by bringing reusable bags to the grocery store. From there, they began to avoid plastic-wrapped produce, switched to biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes, began using reusable water bottles and switched to a reusable razor instead of single-use disposable razors.

Becoming more conscious overall

By making these small changes, Alin and Antonia became more conscious consumers everywhere they went. They checked packaging when they went shopping to avoid plastic whenever possible. They realized that while it’s not always possible to avoid plastic entirely, they could use a lot of substitute products such as reusable or recyclable packaging including glass, stainless steel or cardboard to ultimately have less of an impact on the environment.

“After you’ve made changes like composting, packing reusable bags for shopping trips, looking for products that come in recyclable, non-plastic packaging, look around your home and see what other products can be replaced by a sustainable alternative,” Alin said. “Using sustainable products will save you money in the long run.”

Steps that ALL consumers can take

Here are some of the ways Alin and Antonia make changes in their lives by using EcoRoots products. They believe this is a good starting off point for anyone interested in living more sustainably. Visit ecoroots.us for product options.

  • Buy fresh produce rather than produce wrapped in plastic. Check out your local farmers market or another grocery store if yours doesn’t have what you’re looking for.
  •  Unless medically necessary, skip the plastic straws. Because they’re not accepted by most recycling centers, many larger companies are beginning to ban them anyway, so this is one of the easiest to implement. 
  • Call your local recycling center if you’re not sure if something is recyclable, don’t just throw it out.
  • Compost your food leftovers. 
  • Bring reusable bags with you whenever you go shopping so you don’t have to take home any plastic bags.
  • Use a reusable coffee cup and water bottle so you can skip the paper and plastic.
  • Walk, use public transportation, car-pool, or ride your bike to reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Eat locally. You’ll know exactly where your food is coming from, and you’ll get to support local businesses and farmers. This is especially easy in the summertime when most towns have weekly farmers markets.
  • Consume consciously. Buy things out of necessity, not boredom, and when you do need to buy something, try to find ethically sourced clothes and other products. 
  • Support small, local businesses.
  • Use alternatives to plastic whenever possible in products for the home, kitchen, health and beauty. 

AVH’s Snowmass Medical Care Clinic to open year-round in June

Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) owns and operates the Snowmass Medical Care Clinic at the base of Snowmass Mountain. Exciting plans are in the works, starting with the shift from being open only during the ski season to operating year-round. Starting on June 22, the Clinic will operate seven days a week from 8:30am – 4:30pm and will take walk-in patients. No appointment is needed.

The Clinic is staffed with a physician trained in emergency medicine, as well as nurses, EMTs, x-ray technologists and physical therapists. Diagnostic capabilities are available on-site and include x-rays and limited laboratory services.

Operated and billed as an outpatient department of Aspen Valley Hospital, the Clinic treats a variety of cases, including injuries, illnesses, colds, flu, high altitude sickness, fractures, lacerations and other urgent care needs. As injuries and ailments are evaluated, there is the full back up and support of Aspen Valley Hospital’s ER and Level III Trauma Center just a few miles away in Aspen, with access to Aspen Ambulance for emergency transports if necessary.

Clinic plans to relocate to new space in November

As Snowmass Village continues to see growth of both full-time and seasonal residents as well as increased tourism traffic, AVH has responded by allocating more resources to this important Clinic. During the operating months of January through mid-April, plus November and December, the Clinic treated 2,372 patients. Improving access to healthcare locally is a strong focus of AVH’s ongoing strategic plan. The presence of a full-time medical clinic will better serve the people who work, live in and visit Snowmass Village.

Construction has also commenced on a brand new and greatly improved space in Building 8 within the new Base Village. This state-of-the-art expanded location will improve access for patients, ski patrol, and ambulances, and will have dedicated parking. These were all key factors in the Hospital’s decision to invest $3.5 million into this project.

As Aspen Valley Hospital continues to invest in improving access to care, the incredible philanthropic support from the community continues to support these kinds of projects and helps to accelerate the pace of progress. For more information on supporting the Snowmass Medical Care Clinic, please contact Deborah Breen at 970.544.1302.

6 Reasons to Experience Craft Beer in Colorado

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Colorado has the second highest number of craft breweries (behind California) in the country — and some killer beer festivals to boot — but this powerhouse industry often faces some image myths.

Despite the fact that plenty of bearded white dudes do enjoy craft beer, this is not the industry’s lone demographic. In fact, about half of the guests at Colorado Brewers Guild affiliated festivals — such as the upcoming Vail Craft Beer Classic — are women.

What exactly defines “craft” beer? The Colorado Brewers Guild defines it as beer brewed by breweries that are independent and small, brewing less than 2 million barrels per year.

“The ‘craft’ aspect also incorporates a strong sense of community and centuries worth of brewing tradition,” said Shawnee Adelson, Deputy Director at the Colorado Brewers Guild, “combined with a focus on pushing the boundaries of what can be done with this incredible beverage.”            

Here are some of the qualities of Colorado’s craft beer industry to experience yourself at the upcoming Vail Craft Beer Classic.

Endless variety

From styles of beer including IPAs, ales, stouts and porters, brown ales, wheats, hefeweizens, Belgian pale ales and others, to flavors such as tangerine, coriander, ginger, blood orange, watermelon and many more, craft beers are not easily defined by taste.

“Colorado is a melting pot that brings a wide spectrum of flavors and creativity to the table,” said Andy Jessen, co-founder and manager at Bonfire Brewing in Eagle. “Because it’s such an attractive place to live, we have brewers from all over the country bringing the best of many different recipe formulation philosophies. I think it creates unparalleled variety.”

More than hops

You’ve probably tried a craft beer — or maybe even several — that you didn’t like, but breweries are coming out with new styles all the time. Jessen said people often think craft beer is too hoppy, bitter or flavorful, but he said the variety of styles “is a rainbow with something for everyone.”

Currently, there’s a national industry trend toward producing lighter, lower calorie craft beers.

Tristan Schmid, Marketing and Events Manager at the Colorado Brewers Guild, said if you tried one brewery and didn’t like it, visit another or try a tasting flight to explore all the varieties.

“Some people might feel like craft beer is unapproachable, though if they stop in at their local brewery, they’ll likely find that the bartender will be happy to help them find a beer they’ll enjoy,” Schmid said.

Craft beers for the Colorado lifestyle

It’s become a tradition in communities across the state to hit the local brewery after a day of skiing, mountain biking, road cycling, mountaineering or whatever the outdoor adventure du jour is.

“This history and integration of craft beer in Colorado makes our industry unique and central to what defines Colorado,” Adelson said.

Community-based

There’s been a shift in the U.S. toward knowing where products are sourced — from produce to meat to seafood, and yes, even beer. By definition, craft beer and its smaller batch production is suited to small-town community vibes.

Craft brewers are also “scrappy, resilient and exceptionally community-oriented,” Jessen said.

“People want products they can see the people and history behind, and craft beer is ideally situated to cater to those desires,” Jessen said. “Try as many beers as you can, and support the breweries that do good things in your community. Most brewery owners/operators are working very long hours for very slim rewards because they’re passionate about beer, the people that drink it, and their respective communities.”

Last year, 67 independent breweries opened in Colorado, with about 50 planned to open this year. Many of these breweries are opening up in communities that didn’t have a craft brewery before, Schmid noted.

Brewers who care deeply about quality

Colorado brewers are constantly learning about ways to produce the highest quality beers through events such as the Colorado Brewers Guild’s annual Colorado Craft Brewers Summit. The Guild also helps brewery owners and managers learn about the best ways to make their breweries and beers approachable and enjoyable.

Jessen points out that peers in the industry are always willing to help spread knowledge about quality practices, too.

“And, to a great extent, it’s a self-policing business,” he said. “If the beer isn’t good, most people probably won’t give it a second chance.”

Friendly competition

Attend a beer festival like the Vail Craft Beer Classic and you’ll immediately notice the camaraderie among the brewers. These men and women are a passionate bunch just looking to share the joy of beer with as many people as possible.

These festivals also offer unique opportunities to get face time with these world-class brewers and enjoy one-of-a-kind beers.

“The Vail Craft Beer Classic is a great spot to meet many of those folks,” Jessen said, “and try a wide variety of what Colorado has to offer, in one of the most beautiful settings in our great state.”

Aspen Valley Hospital flips for its employees

The American Hospital Association began celebrating National Hospital Week more than 90 years ago to “celebrate the history, technology and dedicated professionals” in hospitals. Aspen Valley Hospital (AVH) celebrated National Hospital Week with staff last week, kicking off the festivities with the administrative team arriving at the crack of dawn to serve up a pancake breakfast to employees – allowing them to personally thank both the staff coming off shift and the staff coming on shift. Other activities during the week included snacks and games on the front lawn of the Hospital, various national speakers presenting on relevant topics, 10-minute chair massages, ice cream socials, and a walk around the campus with the Hospital’s CEO, Dave Ressler. All of these activities were designed to be fun and festive and to acknowledge the significant investment of time and talent AVH staff members bring to patients and their loved ones.  

“Our employees define AVH, along with our physicians, as the caring organization that our community has come to expect from AVH,” says Ressler. “Operating 24/7, 365 days a year is something that is only possible because of the dedication of our team. Every day we witness so many people doing extraordinary work, and with the community’s support, we strive to provide our staff with the resources and technologies they need. During National Hospital Week, it’s our collective opportunity to demonstrate to staff how valued they are in a fun and visible way. I applaud the 90-year tradition of National Hospital Week. It is healthcare workers that we turn to in times of vulnerability and our greatest need, and with whom we entrust our care. In my mind, healthcare is among the most noble of professions.”   

AVH employs over 500 people from around the Roaring Fork Valley who serve in a variety of clinical and non-clinical roles. The Hospital strives to be an “employer of choice,” offering competitive wages and a vast array of benefits, from health insurance plans, to paid time off, to tuition reimbursement and paid time for volunteer service in the community. AVH also promotes a work-life balance, embracing the Aspen idea of mind, body and spirit through the Evolve Wellbeing program.  All of this has resulted in recruitment of top-flight staff, lower than average turnover, and high employee engagement. In addition, incredible care has also inspired generous support. Consequently, AVH staff can take great pride in the Hospital Foundation’s success in raising nearly $50 million dollars since its formation in 2012. This kind of support only comes as a result of these wonderful men and women who care and who are making a difference in the lives they touch.

Such a dedicated team is what makes AVH so special. Appreciation is shared throughout the year, and this special week gives us an opportunity to have some fun and take a moment to appreciate just how valued our staff are.

Minimizing the emotional toll with sound end-of-life planning

When Sally Potvin’s husband was sick and in home hospice, the family couldn’t get him to talk about what kind of funeral service he wanted.

About 15 years earlier, the Potvins had their trusts and wills done, but the stuff about funeral services and how they wanted to be buried weren’t very detailed. Plus, with so many years since preparing those documents, did he still feel the same way?

Potvin volunteers her experience in accounting — she’s a former CPA — as part of the Pathfinders team that provides end-of-life planning — estate plans, trusts, wills, financial planning and other legalities — for those in the community who need it. Pathfinders Executive Director Allison Daily said it’s common for people with a serious or terminal illness to avoid discussions about end-of-life planning because they often feel like it signifies that they’re “giving up.”

When former Aspen Times publisher Gunilla Israel Asher, who passed away in 2014, had a terminal cancer diagnosis, she worked with Daily on her end-of-life plans. Daily said Asher knew it would be hard for her family to talk about these plans.

“She knew that if this (death) happens, regardless of when it happens, she wanted her plans in place,” Daily said. “We want this end-of-life plan to be the way you want it.”

With good planning, there’s more time to live

Making end-of-life plans are a good idea regardless of your health status, said Danielle Howard, a certified financial planner in Basalt who is part of the Pathfinders team.

“When you’re doing this planning while in perfectly good health doesn’t mean you have the attitude you’re giving up on life, so what changes when you’re diagnosed with a terminal illness? It’s just good planning,” Howard said. “It is for the benefit of your family — it is by no means ‘giving up.’”

Howard has worked with families whose deceased relatives didn’t do the proper planning, and it can really take a toll on those who are left trying to figure it all out.

“You’re not able to mourn and celebrate their life because you’re so consumed with trying to put all of these missing pieces together,” Howard said.

For those with terminal illness who make these end-of-life plans, it’s almost a freeing experienced. Once the planning is complete, these people can get on with living their lives and enjoy the time they have left.

“This idea of being as proactive as possible really helps people to feel empowered around their choices during life and upon passing,” Howard said.

The good and the volatile

Mary Ryerson, executive vice president at Alpine Bank in Aspen, said it’s important for professionals working with grieving families to show compassion, especially when they are facing so many unknowns.

“These are such hard waters to navigate,” she said. “As a banker, I try to make it as easy on a surviving spouse or partner as possible.”

When people don’t have their end-of-life plans in place, things can turn volatile. Ryerson said second marriages with children can get especially complicated.

Howard has seen some difficult things happen, but she’s also seen people turn their end-of-life planning into positive, beautiful experiences. People with children, for example, who have the tough conversations out in the open — about who’s getting what and why — tend to set up a smoother transition for their kids.

Howard encourages her client’s to create a legacy letter. This is where you pass on family history, values, spiritual beliefs, hopes and dreams for your family. She feels this is as valuable, if not more so, than passing on financial assets.

“If you love your kids equally, your going to treat each one uniquely.” Howard said. “One of my big pushes for families doing this planning is to bring money out of the closet. … The sooner you plan — the sooner you start having the conversations, become willing to be vulnerable and share your hopes, dreams, concerns and fears around this idea that we’re all going to leave this world — the better.”

These are just the beginning of lots of questions and answers you should consider to make the process more streamlined and simpler for those that would be given the task of handling your estate. If you love your family, it makes sense to get all matters handled while everyone is healthy and making clear choices of how they want things resolved.

*This is the final part in a three-part series about end-of-life planning. The first part focused on the importance of wills and other legal documents, and the second part focused on financial planning.

Financing death

If you don’t have a joint bank account or a payable-on-death designee, your money is likely to get tied up with your estate after you die. This can be harmful to your family if they need access to cash to pay the mortgage or other debts.

Mary Ryerson, executive vice president at Alpine Bank in Aspen, has watched grieving families struggle with financial stress. She said one of the easiest ways to avoid this is to set up a payable-on-death beneficiary.

“Those funds can be transferred quickly. When someone doesn’t have that set up, depending on the size of their estate, things can get tied up for a while,” she said. “You still have to pay bills, eat, pay for funeral expenses and other things.”

Ryerson is part of a team, organized by Pathfinders Executive Director Allison Daily, that is aiming to help community members create end-of-life plans. The team includes professionals in financial planning, estate law and psychology. Daily said there have been some unexpected deaths in the community that have left spouses and family members unequipped for the financial aftermath. Pathfinders recognized a need to help people make these plans before it’s too late.

“If your spouse dies, you don’t want to cancel the credit cards right away. It’s stuff like this — who’s responsible for what debt — that we need to talk about as a community,” Daily said. “We’re hoping to give people some control with this information.”

Making sure all accounts and policies are properly titled

Getting your financial act together is about feeling empowered and feeling that you and your family members have choices, according to Danielle Howard, a certified financial planner in Basalt who is part of the Pathfinders team.

“We’re all going to pass away; we need to be proactive about planning ahead of time,” she said. “With financial planning, I look at it from a holistic perspective, digging into titling, taxes, investments, business, insurances and cash flow — it’s an incredibly comprehensive, robust process.”

But that doesn’t mean it has to be complicated, she added.

“It doesn’t matter how much you have — what matters is what you want to accomplish with it,” she said. “It’s about creating awareness of the assets you have and how to utilize them, and about making things as smooth as possible in an unfortunate circumstance.”

One important area is life insurance. Some people purchase policies and forget about them, but it’s critical to make sure the beneficiary designations and ownership is set up correctly, Howard said.

“That will provide much quicker access to funds,” she said.

Determine the intention of investment and bank accounts

“You will want to have a discussion with an attorney to ensure that some of your bigger assets are titled properly,” she said. “And if you own a business (especially with multiple owners), it’s important to do this planning for the business as well as your family.”

Regardless of your wealth — or lack thereof — it’s important to set up your accounts properly so they are aligned with your wishes. If you can’t afford to talk to a professional advisor, the Pathfinders team can help.

These experts can help determine all the legalities of an estate, such as whether any accounts or policies taken out before marriage exclude a spouse. If you haven’t gotten around to changing the titling of those accounts, there could be a sister or stepchild showing up to collect funds you never intended them to inherit.

“I’m amazed at how often it’s contentious,” Ryerson said.

Unintended consequences

The estates of descendents without a will can turn into chaos. Sally Potvin, a former CPA on the Pathfinders team who has continued to volunteer her time to help community members navigate the financial complexities of end-of-life planning, is working with one case for which a judge is trying to determine heirs from a list of 165 relatives.

“It can get crazy,” she said. “To save your relatives, as a gift to them, put it in writing so they don’t have to be harrassed. They have no idea that people might be coming out of the woodwork. So much of this is money-driven when it shouldn’t be.”

Through both personal and professional experience, Potvin helps people organize their finances and prepare for unintended consequences.

“To make it easy on your family, make a list of everything,” Potvin said. “Let them know what you want to have done.”

For couples with children younger than 18, this includes setting up guardianship for your children, said Aspen Estate/Trust attorney Jeanne Doremus, who is part of the Pathfinders team. Furthermore, if your parents are still living and you are married with no children with an estate of at least $200,000 in assets, your parents have a legal right to the amount above $200,000. It is important to title your assets properly, if you want your asset to go 100 percent to your spouse.  

Create a “no decision” zone

Howard said she gets questions from clients asking whether they should pay off the mortgage or other debts immediately after a death.

“No, don’t do anything,” Howard said. “You need to assess what you have, where it’s at and how it can be utilized for cash flow needs now or down the road. Give yourself some time. Figure out the immediate needs, but you want to be very careful about what bills you pay and whose names they are in because you may or may not be responsible.”

Under Colorado law, there is a legal designation of priority of creditors. If you are unsure if you have enough assets to pay all of the debts, you should not pay any debts until you can determine what debts have priority over other debts. You may need to have someone guide you through that analysis, Doremus said.

The funeral home files for a death certificate and also communicates that death to the Social Security administration, taking one thing off survivors’ plates. However, what if you had a joint credit card account with the deceased person?

“So many online checklists say you should call everyone immediately when someone dies, but If you are using a credit card with your name on it, but from an account opened under the name of the decedent, the credit card company may close your account leaving you without access to credit,” Potvin said. “My dad died on July 1 and Social Security had already sent him a check. They ended up taking it back after he died — imagine if he hadn’t kept much money in that bank account? We could have ended up bouncing checks.”

Do you have a will or end-of-life plan?

When a loved one dies, surviving family members or loved ones must sift through personal effects and financial affairs as they also try to cope with the loss. The experience is often devastating, and for surviving family members and friends that are given the task to distribute an estate without a will or other documents to guide them through the process, it can be overwhelming.

Allison Daily has been supporting the Roaring Fork Valley with counseling and other grief services through Pathfinders, a nonprofit she presently leads to help those suffering from cancer or other chronic illness, grief and loss.

Recently, Pathfinders has helped support the families of people who have died unexpectedly as they navigate the legal complexities that follow death.

“We worked with four women who had lost their husbands suddenly,” Daily said. “They didn’t know what to do first; didn’t know where to go.”

Daily decided to assemble a team of experts — financial planners, an accountant and an estate attorney — to help the community with end-of-life planning. Each expert works for the client, bringing their specific training and experience to address every complexity associated with the process.

Regardless of a person’s wealth, Daily said it’s essential to create an end-of-life plan long before you think you need one.

Importance of an end-of-life plan

It is important that you have a plan when you die which may include important issues such as who will be the guardian and fiduciary for your children if both parents should die, who is in charge of distributing your assets and who will receive your estate.

“It’s best to create this plan when you are healthy as it usually reflects your true intentions,” said Aspen Trust and Estate Attorney Jeanne Doremus, who is part of the Pathfinders team.

Unintended fiduciaries and/or beneficiaries

When thinking about end-of-life planning, Doremus said a will is a great place to start. It allows you to name who you would prefer to serve as a personal representative (called executor in other states), who will be the beneficiaries of your estate.  

“Wills are important as they dictate what you want to have happen and when anyone dies without a will, Colorado law essentially writes the  person’s will for them through a set of statutes — and there are often unintended beneficiaries or consequences for your loved ones,” she said.

Another important task is to make sure all assets that have beneficiary designations are reviewed and accurately reflect who you want as your beneficiary. Life can change and it is not unusual to have unintended beneficiaries remain as beneficiaries of your assets, Doremus said.

The right legal documents

Regardless of a person’s assets — you could have millions or a few hundred bucks; multiple properties or none at all; own a business or be unemployed — a will outlines the deceased person’s final wishes.

Pathfinders wanted to create this checklist to help educate the community about the importance of these documents, and Alpine Legal Services is an important resource that can help those who cannot afford an attorney to prepare these documents. Call 970-945-8858 to see if you qualify for free legal services.

There are other documents — for example, financial and medical powers of attorney, living wills, advance health care directives — which are all important. These legal documents reflect your choice upon death and during your lifetime, and will provide power to those who can speak for you,  regarding medical and financial issues, when you can’t speak for yourself.

A road map of important directions

What about information that isn’t necessarily legal in nature but still important? A road map of all important things someone should know when they are in charge of handling the estate should include a simple list of instructions about where to find things.

“Do you have a safety deposit box? Where’s the key? Do you have a safe that contains all of your important legal documents? What’s the combination? What accounts do you have? What are your passwords? Do you have life insurance?” Doremus said.

This information should be updated on a regular basis and should who you want to receive your personal items such as jewelry, clothing and other things. This information is a gift to those that will be in charge of this task.

“It empowers you now to know what your choices are and make decisions ahead of time for yourself and your family,” said Danielle Howard, a certified financial planner in Basalt who is part of the Pathfinders team. “Conversations and communication are key to keeping the transition through this difficult time of life as smooth as possible.”

Some people choose to write a letter to their children outlining what they want, which can help prevent guesswork or arguments.

“You make an end-of-life plan for the love of your family,” Daily said. “It’s going to make their lives easier and help them in their own grieving process. When loved ones have to spend a lot of time figuring out the estate issues, their grief is put to the side for a while.”

Good form

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.”

Science-based exercise
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.

‘If you want to go far, go together’

From Independence Pass to the Roan Plateau, the Aspen Valley Land Trust wants to understand how communities are feeling about population growth, changing climate, conservation issues, and community issues, among other topics. Through various community engagement efforts, AVLT hopes to shape its strategic conservation plan — which will outline the organization’s conservation work in the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys over the next 5 to 10 years — with a lot of input from the community.

“We hope to find out not just what pressing conservation issues people identify, but what pressing issues conservation might be able to help address,” said Suzanne Stephens, executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust. “We hope to connect with supporters as well as people and communities that are not currently involved with the Land Trust so that we can better understand the trends people worry about, and help set a future course that is most responsive to current needs.”

The issues
Some of the many issues facing the valley include a lack of affordable housing, impacts of drought, climate change, loss of open space and agricultural land, and pressures on wildlife and natural resources.

One of AVLT’s most important engagement tools is a 15-minute survey it hopes residents will fill out online. The questions aim to gather information about which issues matter most to people.

Is access to locally grown food as important as providing critical habitat and resources for wildlife? Do people want to maintain open spaces and scenic buffers between communities? Do they want to maintain the rural agricultural heritage of the area? How much does conserving land really matter to local residents?

“The population rate in Colorado is growing, and we’re feeling that change pretty acutely,” said Matt Annabel, Communications and Outreach Director at Aspen Valley Land Trust. “Every community feels it a little differently, so we’re wanting to engage folks to understand what they’re feeling now, and what each community’s threats and opportunities are now.”

Community-driven conservation
Across the country, land trusts are stepping back, talking with their communities and taking stock of where they want to focus to produce the best conservation – and community – outcomes, Stephens said.

“Throughout our history, this concept of community-driven conservation has been a recurrent theme, but it’s risen back to the forefront over the last few years as a result of a few high-profile community projects such as the Save Red Hill effort and the purchase of a property used for outdoor education in Marble that hopes to serve schools from Aspen to Glenwood,” she said.

This important feedback will help AVLT direct and prioritize landscape-scale conservation work, as well as other types of community-drive conservation projects like these. It’s the first time the organization has ever solicited such broad community feedback.

“We don’t want to add something to our mission that’s not a good fit for the communities we work in, nor do we want to leave behind something really important,” Annabel said.

This community involvement will help AVLT become more aware and connected and informed as it charges ahead.

“A land trust relies on partnerships to make conservation happen, and the people and communities we work with are our most important partners,” Stephens said. “As the old saying goes, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’”

Exercise is a reward, not punishment

When Lauren Hinson finally realized that exercise was so much more than a tool for weight loss, she developed a relationship with the gym that has had positive impacts on both her personal life and career.

Hinson — manager at Colorado 24/7 Fitness-Basalt, which merged with the Gym of Basalt — became a personal trainer so she could connect with people who viewed exercise like she once did.

“I used to think of the gym as punishment; it was a place I would only go when I needed to lose weight and once I had accomplished my goal I would quit,” Hinson said. “I had hit an all-time high on the scale in about 2011 and made a commitment to myself to get to a healthy weight and stay there. I learned that if I exercised a few times a week — not just for weight loss — I actually felt better and slept better. I began to think of exercise as something that made me feel good, not as a punishment for something I ate.”

With this mentality, it’s obvious why Hinson runs a gym that prioritizes its members’ goals and lifestyles. Colorado 24/7 Fitness is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and offers about 30 group fitness classes per week throughout the day and evening to meet all members’ scheduling needs.

Busy schedule? No problem
Time is the biggest barrier to fitness, which is why Colorado 24/7 Fitness tries to eliminate this problem by staying open and flexible. Hinson said spending time on yourself, to take care of your health and fitness, is arguably one of the most important things on anyone’s daily schedule.

Some members schedule their gym sessions or group fitness classes on their work calendars so they can treat workouts just like any other important meeting.

“We are all busy, especially those who have to drive from downvalley to work in Aspen. We offer 24-hour access so that we are able to help members remove excuses,” she said. “They have the freedom to come in and get their workout in at any time of day that works for them. We have an early crowd before 5 a.m., and our late-night members who come in after 9 p.m.”

Thanks to its merger with Colorado 24/7 Fitness last September, members can also access those gym locations in Glenwood Springs, New Castle, Silt and Rifle, with access to discounted spa services at La Provence Spa in Glenwood.

With the convenience part taken care of, Hinson hopes members can focus on themselves in positive ways. She wants new members especially to remember that any exercise program shouldn’t be about quick results.

“People tend to go really hard when they are first starting out at the gym, thinking that more workouts will get them faster results, but that tends to get them burned out and they give up,” she said. “Slow and steady wins the race. Aim for 2 to 3 workouts your first couple of weeks, and get into a yoga class for some recovery. You can’t pour from an empty cup — you have to take care of yourself before you can care for others.”

Community environment, expert staff
When members walk through the door at Colorado 24/7 Fitness-Basalt, Hinson wants people to feel welcome. She said that while people might join gyms for personal reasons, she wants them to stay for the community.

“Our gym is a great example of that! Group fitness helps people push harder than they normally would because they are working out together,” she said. “We push harder in front of people than when we’re alone, and it’s great to get encouragement from our amazing instructors.”

The staff includes a variety of backgrounds and fitness experience, including NASM-certified personal trainers who can help with weight loss, building strength, recovering from an injury and sports-specific training. These trainers can work with clients of any age and fitness level to achieve their fitness goals.

Group fitness classes run the gamut from the Bodypump barbell class to GRIT, a 30-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. The gym also offers indoor cycling, dance, yoga and Pilates classes. All classes are included with all memberships.

Whether you’re using the free weights and barbell area, weight or cardio machines, or enjoying a group class, Hinson said the environment at Colorado 24/7 Fitness is relaxed, fun and inclusive. Members cheer each other on and many even form friendships at the gym and hold each other accountable.

“We love new people, and we pride ourselves in being able to adjust to beginners and push the advanced members further than they thought they could go,” Hinson said. “It fulfills me so much when I hear a member of my classes say that they have become stronger, they can ski longer, and they feel great. Exercise will make you look great, but it makes you FEEL even better.”