| AspenTimes.com

Films that shine a light on the human spirit

This Sponsored content is brought to you by 5Point Adventure Film Festival.

Blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak in “The Weight of Water.”

In the 5Point film “The Weight of Water,” blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak, but this impressive physical and mental achievement is really just the backdrop for a much more remarkable human story.

“The film transcends the outdoor genre with strong characters and a very compelling story about life that includes all of us, not just Erik,” said filmmaker Michael Brown. “Kayaking and the Grand Canyon, while beautiful, are merely a backdrop for a deeply human drama mixed with a wonderful story of friendship.”

Transcending the outdoor genre is exactly what makes 5Point films — all of which capture and display the 5 points of purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance — unique in the outdoor adventure film world. Other festivals may tug at viewers’ adrenaline strings, but 5Point wants its films to do that and more.

“We’re looking for the stories behind these adventures,” said Regna Jones, 5Point’s Executive Director. “We want to go deep into the human story to find out what drives and motivates people.”

Evolving from the adrenaline-pumping vibe of the festival’s early days, today’s festival connects with its audiences by showing moving stories about the human spirit and how adventure is for everyone — with a bit of action-adventure mixed in.

“Whether someone is showing true grit, pure joy or overcoming an obstacle in life, it’s the people — the human story — that drives a 5Point film,” Meredith McKee, 5Point’s Program Director.

Adventure belongs to all

Weihenmayer, who has been blind since the age of 14 due to a genetic condition, trained for six or seven years to kayak the Grand Canyon. He also was the subject of a film, “Farther Than the Eye Can See,” about his 2001 journey climbing Mt. Everest.

Mike Chambers and Jason Antin in “In Due Time.” In the film, these two men openly explore their thoughts on fatherhood, family and adventure — and how the proper balance between these three is necessary for their happiness.

“Some people are on the fast track in life and they want to conquer a mountain really fast. I’m not really into that — I like to build up and see if you can flourish in an environment rather than just survive it,” Weihenmayer said.

When asked what drives him to accomplish these harrowing feats, Weihenmayer doesn’t have a clear answer.

“I can tell you why I don’t do things — I don’t do things to prove blind people can do things. That’s sort of shallow and unsustainable. The world says I can’t do something so I’m going to go do it — I don’t think that’s enough,” he said.

Weihenmayer said it’s Brown’s work as the filmmaker that impressively captures the real story behind the journey. He said filmmakers often don’t get enough attention for these storytelling achievements.

“When I left the Grand Canyon, you have this story but it hasn’t really emerged yet,” Weihenmayer said. “Filmmakers try to figure out what’s the story and where’s the truth in this experience. I think Michael really tried to tap into some universal things a lot of people experience in life and the outdoors. People can connect themselves — their own fears, limitations and dreams — to the characters in the film. Michael nailed it. He did such a masterful job connecting it with people.”

That’s the root of a 5Point film, Jones said — knowing that it’s going to be full of heart. From 5Point’s perspective, “adventure” is a very broad term.

“It does not matter if you are a kayaker or not, or if you have been to the Grand Canyon or not. If you have lived life and suffered from setbacks, you will appreciate the very human and very universal aspects of this story,” Brown said. “What especially resonates is that in life, our choices define us and our perception of success and failure.”

The Carbondale experience

Brown sees Carbondale as the heart of a true mountain community that encompasses the entirety of the Roaring Fork Valley.

“There is a lot of authenticity in the audience at 5Point,” he said. “They will see through anything contrived.”

The platform of the festival challenges its filmmakers and audiences to take on a new view of life, and to be more open to new ideas, cultures and current events, according to Rob Prechti, the subject of the film “(People) Of Water.”

“My favorite part of this festival is interacting with the community, sharing ideas and thoughts with the directors, creatives and influencers, the hosts and general audience,” he said. “Everyone has a story to tell no matter how mundane or exciting, and it is that connection that really brings the community together.”  

(People) of Water is the story of Rob Prechtl, a member of the U.S. Men’s Raft team, on a journey to learn the craft of outrigger paddling.

There will be more than 100 special guests coming to town for this year’s festival. And in the spirit of this special mountain community, there will also be many surprises.

“After many films, we will bring up the filmmakers and athletes in the films on stage to share their behind-the-scenes stories with the audience. We also look forward to moments of music played out in our films and love to surprise the audience with a live-score or song after a few films every year. 

” McKee said. “It really surprises the audiences — and very much amplifies the message of the film and leaves the audience feeling inspired and changed.”

5Point has worked hard to build this reputation authentically. Jones said the nature of the festival and the ethos it represents has the capacity to make the world a better place.“Caring about the planet, being healthy, active, having the 5 points to focus on — it’s a spiritual invitation to be a good human and take care of our environment and earth, and learn about each other and connect and walk with a bit more grace and humility,” she said. “That’s what excites me about this organization.”

Low impact exercises that pack a serious punch

This sponsored content is brought to you by Pure Barre Aspen

At Pure Barre, 50-minute classes equate to major results both on and off the mountain

Pure Barre’s Reform class improves flexibility in the muscles and tendons, strengthens core muscles and improves posture. Photos courtesy of Pure Barre Aspen

Perhaps you’ve noticed that your “ski legs” aren’t as conditioned as you thought they were after so many deep powder days this season. In order to have the endurance to enjoy those awesome powder days, working on your fitness off the slopes is essential to your skiing and snowboarding ability, strength and stamina.

Pure Barre’s Empower Cardio class mixes high-intensity intervals and low-impact strengthening. Photos courtesy of Pure Barre Aspen

“Enter Pure Barre. Our workout is intelligently designed to help you improve strength, balance and flexibility, which can mean greater endurance, improved coordination and better balance — all of which are vital for a killer ski season,” said Jordan Bullock, owner of Pure Barre in Aspen.

Thanks to the many benefits of these small, but targeted barre exercises, keeping Pure Barre in the regular rotation of year-round workouts can help outdoor enthusiasts stay strong in everything from biking to biking to tennis to golf. That’s why Aspen locals have consistently voted Pure Barre as one of the best workouts and fitness studios in “Best of Aspen” polls over the years.

Pure Barre class variety

Barre workouts include a ton of variety both within each class, and from class to class. No two barre workouts are ever the same, but the descriptions below can help guide Pure Barre beginners toward the classes that might best meet their workout goals.


Increases your flexibility, which is vital to a fast recovery and staying supple on the slopes. Improves your balance by strengthening your whole body — each muscle group is targeted, fatigued, and strengthened, which means more time spent on the mountain. Facilitates a mind/body connection that is crucial to skiing.


Our cardio-centric class mixes high-intensity intervals and low-impact strength sections, which mimic the demands on your body when you ski. Strengthens each muscle group, as well as your bones, ligaments, and tendons to help with vibration and impact forces.


Improves flexibility in the muscles and tendons, which helps combat the effect of low temperatures when muscles are stiff, slow to react and lack range of movement. Strengthens the core muscles, which are essential for balance, back support, and helping keep your upper body stationary while your legs work. Improves your posture, technique, coordination, and muscle imbalance, which helps prevent injuries.

Bullock wants the community to know that her studio remains open in its original location downtown, at 620 E. Hyman Ave.

“Pure Barre is committed to serving our strong community’s workout needs,” Bullock said.

The Pure Barre workout

Each Pure Barre class is designed to strengthen core muscles and increase balance and flexibility. Bullock said Pure Barre workouts focus on quads hamstrings, glutes, abs and arms, as well as important mind/body connections.

Pure Barre’s Classic class focuses on flexibility, balance and strengthening the whole body. Photos courtesy of Pure Barre Aspen

Classes are 50 minutes and target the entire body with low-impact, isometric movements. Sometimes exercises are done using the ballet barre, and other times you’ll be on a mat using other light equipment.

One thing Pure Barre workouts are known for is the shake. As you complete repetitions of these isometric exercises — small contractions of muscles — it’s common to feel your muscles shake, indicating muscle fatigue. Over time, the shake improves as your body strengthens, making the shaking less intense with each class.

So, while the workout is low-impact, it’s high intensity. The results are long and lean muscle tone without the bulk, according to Pure Barre.Class attire is similar to what you might wear to a yoga class — pants, leggings or capris, and a fitness tank or T-shirt. It’s important to have a pair of sticky socks for class to prevent unwanted sliding, plus it helps keep the studio clean from bare feet.

Pure Barre lingo


A movement that involves contracting the abs back causing the hips to rotate forward to elongate the spine.


A position that is held by engaging the core and bringing the spine to neutral, creating a straight line from the head to the tailbone.


A movement held in its deepest, tightest, lowest position to achieve isometric contraction. May be used with downhold, lifthold, squeezehold, circlehold, etc.


A tiny quiver in the joint followed immediately by an extension and contraction of the muscle being worked.


A downward movement from the lowest point, to the Pure Barre tempo of the music.


A one inch range of movement in a slow, controlled motion. Slightly larger than a pulse, smaller than a full range of motion.


Typically refers to a movement of the knees backward while keeping a heavy tailbone position. The two motions create the opposing forces at work to lean and tone the muscles.


A low impact exercise is one that keeps at least one of your feet on the ground at all times.


Shortened version lift, tone, burn.

Aspen Valley Hospital builds on momentum

Deborah Breen, President & CEO
Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation

Under the steady leadership of our Chief Executive Officer, Dave Ressler, Aspen Valley Hospital continues to manage the complex challenges that exist in this unpredictable and ever-changing healthcare landscape. As a nonprofit hospital, we have a primary responsibility to provide the very best care possible, while also being good stewards of this 128-year-old vital community resource. Last year, over 80,000 patient encounters were managed across our network of care – which spans Aspen to Snowmass Village to Basalt – demonstrating the significant need for healthcare services locally.

Our nonprofit status means that we deliver extraordinary care each and every day to all in need, regardless of ability to pay. We make decisions on what services, physicians, specialists, technology and facilities are needed by the people we serve – unlike for-profit hospitals whose decisions are based on profitability. In fact, profits at for-profit hospitals are paid to shareholders. At AVH, the community owns the hospital, and therefore, any excess revenue over expenses is immediately reinvested in priority projects that will better serve our patients.

In 2019, we will build on the terrific momentum from last year and will continue to expand our network of care through various mid- and upper-valley locations, including construction of a new year-round Snowmass Clinic. The plan also calls for the recruitment of new primary care physicians, and enhancement of local, regional and national partnerships that can help the breadth and depth of our services, including NYC-based Hospital for Special Surgery. In addition, evaluating facility and technology needs will also be high on the agenda, including implementing a state-of-the-art electronic medical record.

There is no doubt: Aspen Valley Hospital is your community hospital. The key driver for all AVH does revolves around the needs of our community. Having funding to support these strategies requires a great investment of resources. Patient revenues allow us to maintain, while philanthropy helps us make a significant impact by accelerating our pace of progress.

Building love and respect for the outdoor world

Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ education programs expand downvalley, teaching love and responsibility for the environment

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

Whether they’re out exploring riparian habitats or following the tracks of a snowshoe hare around their school, elementary students in the Roaring Fork Valley have incredible learning experiences both in and out of the classroom thanks to a unique partnership between the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and local school districts.

Students in Aspen have enjoyed this education about the beautiful and complex outdoor world that surrounds them for more than 40 years, but recent efforts and collaboration have helped deliver these programs further down the Roaring Fork Valley.

Thanks to the efforts of ACES’ Educators, these students develop a deeper understanding of and connection to the outdoors.

Katrina Winograd has been one of ACES’ Educators for the past 5 years. She currently leads ACES’ outreach and education in the Garfield RE-2 School District in New Castle, which launched last fall.

Winograd attributes much of the success of the program to Arin Trook, the beloved education director at ACES who died tragically in an avalanche last month.

“He always wanted to go further downvalley. He wanted to share our curriculum as far and wide as possible — even down to the Front Range, she said. “He envisioned our program’s expansion and set that process in motion with his unique energy and passion.”

Important curriculum
Through a three-year partnership with Great Outdoors Colorado, ACES’ expansion into New Castle, Rifle and Silt includes semester-long stints at the 6 elementary schools in the RE-2 school district — Kathryn Senor and Elk Creek in New Castle, Cactus Valley in Silt, and Wamsley, Highland and Graham Mesa in Rifle — with lessons about fossils, watersheds, winter tracking, and more.

“They’ll be learning about watersheds and about how pollution affects human and natural communities up and down stream,” Winograd said. “And we’ll go to Hallam Lake to do some macroinvertebrate hunting, which are bioindicators of healthy wetlands.”

Great Outdoors Colorado invests portions of Colorado Lottery proceeds toward local projects throughout the state that help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. This perfectly aligns with ACES’ mission to educate for environmental responsibility.

“Right now, our goal is to work with teachers in New Castle, Rife and Silt to get them familiar with environmental science lessons so they can continue to teach students down there,” said Derek Ferguson, ACES’ Education Coordinator, adding that conversations continue about what to do with this programming after the three-year partnership ends.

At Aspen Elementary, Basalt Elementary and Crystal River Elementary, ACES has full-time teachers in the schools teaching environmental education classes to students in kindergarten through fourth grade. ACES’ daily elementary school classes reach 1,700 students each week with lessons that help these students meet state science standards, including ecology, STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), regenerative agriculture and renewable energy, to name a few.

Winograd said the ACES’ curriculum helps supplement the curriculum taught by home room teachers, and there are really fun ways that teachers combine lessons to make learning fun.

At Crystal River Elementary, for example, the ACES Educators and first-grade teachers have worked together to create Family Science Nights, one of which is tailored to learning all about owls. ACES has a resident Great Horned Owl, so this family program includes live owl demonstrations, an owl pellet dissection and other fun activities that help students (and parents) learn about this local bird of prey.

A love for the outdoor world
By blending science, critical thinking, and outdoor hands-on learning, kids end up getting excited about nature, Ferguson said.

“Then, through educating about nature and building knowledge about why things are the way they are, we give them the tools to be environmentally responsible in their own lives. These programs are all about building love, connection, a knowledge base, and a passion for environmental responsibility,” he said.

Winograd is proud that ACES’ curriculum is spreading to more diverse communities, which ties into ACES’ social justice work as well.
“Everyone, regardless of background, ethnicity and socio-economic status is connected to the natural world,” she said. “I’m proud that ACES sees that reaching diverse communities is not only important, but it’s essential — it’s a no-brainer.”

Beyond the classrooms and field trips, Winograd said she hopes that at a fundamental, basic level, all of this work ultimately helps kids connect with the natural spaces they might have never noticed before.

“There’s so much to look for in the natural world,” she said. “I hope that these kids grow up really caring about those natural spaces and feeling excited to explore and learn about spaces they haven’t yet seen.