By Tess Weaver Strokes
Aspen might be known for its outdoor offerings, but during an ordinary winter, the town’s beloved yoga and Pilates studios and gyms are a warm welcome from the cold. At the time of this writing, in mid-November, Aspen had just been placed under “orange-level restrictions” based on Colorado’s color-coded COVID-19 dial, meaning gyms, restaurants, places of worship and offices were reduced to 25 percent maximum capacity. A red-level classification loomed, which would allow for virtual classes, or outdoor offerings in groups of fewer than 10 persons for the studios below.
“Wellness and self-care have never been more important than during this pandemic”, says O2 Aspen COO Julia Whipple. “At O2, we have taken every precaution to keep our community, staff and space safe so we can continue providing positive wellness experiences in our classes and spa.” This fall, O2 offered reserved small yoga classes and even smaller Pilates classes, requiring students, teachers and staff to wear masks at all times. No matter the weather, windows are cracked, and surfaces are deep-cleaned and sanitized between each class, treatment and shopper. COVID-prompted initiatives that O2 will keep around include O2 Virtual, which allows clients to stream their favorite O2 Classes on demand, and O2 Approval Boxes, custom-curated style kits that have helped sustain O2’s retail store and developed a cult following. o2life.com
Higher Terrain Aspen
According to Higher Terrain owner Jen Metcalf, adjusting her small fitness studio to meet COVID protocol established by Pitkin County involved a few changes. “We’ve always offered smaller Lagree Method classes, as we believe we can offer higher-quality instruction and a better experience for clients wishing to learn our method.” When the studio (formerly Ritual) reopened after closing from mid-March to late May, it reduced the group classes schedule, and offered private one-on-one and semi-private Lagree Method sessions and six-person classes in its fitness room with 6-foot spacing (reservations only). Megaformers had to be reserved ahead of time, with no drop-ins allowed. “When we reopened, we wanted to keep everyone safe and healthy, and to offer a mental break from the stress associated with COVID,” says Metcalf. “Our method takes such a strong mental focus, it’s impossible to be any other place in your head when you’re on the Megaformer.” higherterrainfitness.com
Jean-Robert Barbette founded his namesake gym in Aspen in 1990. Since then, he’s developed a loyal clientele of regulars and visitors, but in the time of COVID, it’s the locals Jean-Robert’s Gym caters to now. Knowing his fitness center was essential to the mental health of its members (when Jean-Robert’s closed for 10 weeks in the spring, Barbette received a call from a member who was considering breaking his sobriety because he had lost his stress outlet, the gym), Jean-Robert’s set the bar higher than the City of Aspen and the health department, upping its monthly cleaning budget to $2,000, installing an air system and enacting its own contact-tracing system. “I finally was able to achieve the cleanliness standard I always wanted,” says Barbette. Despite the challenging business climate in June 2020, Jean-Robert’s opened a 7,000-square-foot second location in Willits, 20 miles down valley from Aspen. jeanrobertgym.com