Letting Go of the Wall

GMarks-IceSkating-04It’s Saturday morning, and the cheerful echo of laughter fills the air. Below the bleachers, there’s a symphony of movement; enthusiastic young children and tentative adults glide over ice, chasing bubbles, gathering stuffed animals, and chasing hula hoops as supportive coaches guide and instruct. Despite the chilly environment, the atmosphere is warm. People giggle and grin, stumble and recover, and cheer each other on.

It’s just an ordinary day at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center’s indoor ice skating rink, a year-round winter playground that puts ice sports within reach for some 50,000 visitors per year. Since its opening in 2000, the regulation NHL-sized rink has made serving the community a priority. From the graceful twirl of a figure skater to the dynamic power of a hockey player to the quiet focus of curling, there are many ways to experience ice skating. GCCC offers an impressive cross sampling of these activities. Even though it lacks competition—it’s the only indoor ice rink in the state north of Albuquerque—it’s a model of an affordable, well-maintained and friendly experience.

The thrill of ice skating may seem like a distant dream to many people—especially kids—but through programs like Skating in School, the Chavez Center rink is inclusive of our entire community. The program allows access to Santa Fe students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go ice skating. It’s funded by the city and private donors, and provides everything: four coaches, transportation to and from the Chavez Center, plus rink time once a week for four weeks. After a month of lessons, the students show off their new skills by performing in a show. The Chavez Center has included five schools so far, and is committed to doing even more in the coming years. Continue reading

Ninja Park Warriors

NinjaParkJE_JG_22In 2014, Travis Iverson was diagnosed with a five-centimeter aneurysm near his heart. To save his life, doctors conducted open-heart surgery. Seven months later, Travis was back in the gym, but not lifting weights as he had been. To avoid undo strain on his heart, he joined the Ninja Park in Albuquerque, a functional fitness gym where members navigate obstacles like the ones seen on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. Just four months later, Travis was selected from tens of thousands of applicants to compete in a regional final and appear on the show. Although he didn’t advance from the Houston regional to the nationals, getting that far was a feat few would have expected a year earlier.

The now 31-year-old former corrections officer is focused on his new career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, so he isn’t actively competing. Still, he continues to train—including on his nemesis: the salmon ladder. The obstacle, on which competitors grasp a bar and swing it (and themselves) up pegs, eliminated him from the Houston trials. “You can train that as many times as you want and still never be ready for it. I’ve done that obstacle literally thousands of times at the gym,” he says.

Although the Albuquerque gym has roots in the American Ninja Warrior, it isn’t formally affiliated with the show and is one of only a few dozen similar gyms across the U.S. Inspired by the show, owner Garrett Takach started creating backyard obstacles but set down roots when he founded Ninja Park in February 2015. This year, on March 11, it will host an area qualifier for the United Ninja Athlete Association, a national competition series hosted by other similar gyms across the country. Continue reading

Saving Your Skin


dreamstime_m_46901463I grew up in a time, not that long ago, when sunscreen was for babies. Literally. No one over nine worried about getting too much sun—certainly not if you were a teenager or in your early 20s. Instead, we lathered on oils that touted their bronzing efficacy. We wrapped cardboard in aluminum foil to hold beneath our chins to reflect the sun onto our necks, because to have a golden glow––male or female––was considered beautiful. We didn’t even wear sunglasses, because we might get that unsightly raccoon-eye ring. Being pale was for chumps.

Now that I’m of an age to see the sunspots darkening my hands and face (this is your skin’s response to overstimulation by the sun, and an attempt to protect itself from further abuse) and crow’s feet crinkling my eyes, I think differently. There’s a world of research about how skin cancer doesn’t just happen overnight, too. No, skin lesions of all sorts are often the result of cumulative hours of sun exposure. Sun-kissed is a lie–– sun-beaten and wind-blown is a more accurate description of what happens to our epidermis.

I’m certainly not seeking the “I just spent a week at the beach” appearance anymore. Living in New Mexico, we don’t need to hit the road to find the sun. We’ve got over 300 days of it. Plus, we live at altitude, which enhances the effects of Old Sol’s rays. And did you forget the wind? That and our dry desert air contribute to dehydration, which is murder on the epidermis. Continue reading

New Year, New You


Six spa experiences with a local twist—each designed to elevate your attitude and snap you out of winter’s chill.

Spa menus often read like romance fiction sprinkled with glimpses of celestial desires. Who doesn’t want to touch heaven or paradise for an hour or so while splayed naked on a comfy-toasty treatment table? We poked around Santa Fe and Albuquerque spa destinations looking for the most unique offerings available—especially those with a distinct burst of New Mexico elements, designed to arouse your inner and outer senses. These six cures for sore muscles, dry skin, toxic buildup, getting old, zapped energy and stress overload will go a long way in helping to usher in a year of wellness. Continue reading

Hungry for Healthy

Santa Fe has a longstanding—and well-deserved—reputation as a health-conscious city. Patients were drawn to the Sunmount Sanatorium in the early twentieth century, just as the back-to-the-land movement felt a magnetic pull to the high desert in the 1960s and 70s. Even nearby Ojo Caliente’s curative mineral springs are said to have been a gathering place for thousands of years.

Today, the impulses towards good health take more varied forms, from alternative healing practitioners to tai chi instructors to organic farming advocates. And it’s only natural that the city has also kept pace with changes in the culinary landscape (remember Healthy Dave’s, in the Design Center?). Once upon a time, “health food” was a broad umbrella term referring mostly to vegetarianism while encompassing things like whole-wheat bread and homemade yogurt. Now the categories are much more complex. Vegan and gluten-free options, dietary outliers in the not-so-distant past, are becoming menu staples, as are alternatives to refined white sugar.

Dozens of local restaurants accommodate all manner of diners’ dietary needs and preferences. Below are just three of the many places where you can have your gluten-free, vegan, low-glycemic cake and not just eat it, but enjoy it, too. Continue reading

In Stride

Striders_Run_LL_02Meeting up early one morning recently for coffee with Jim Owens and Vinnie Kelley, I notice these guys are fit. Solid. Not an extra ounce of fat. Well, okay, between the two of them maybe an ounce, somewhere. Jim is the president of Santa Fe Striders, a local running club 200-members strong, and Vinnie is a longtime member. But when we get talking, I also notice they are very easy going. It’s refreshing. So often we turn play into work––we get serious about it and, poof, there goes the fun. For Jim and Vinnie, running is as much a part of life as taking a breath. They love the sport and the benefits and, while maybe years ago they were driven to excel, now they do it for fun.

Santa Fe Striders was founded in 1978. “One of the original members,” says Jim, referring to Dale Goering, “who is still a club member, he’s in his mid-80s now. He was running with us a little bit last year, but he still gets out and walks and rides his bike every day just about.” Today, the club sponsors four workouts every week, each focusing on a different type of running. They also sponsor a summer youth program, and several races over the year.

I’ve seen club members on the Windsor Trail in the Sangre’s and always marveled at them. “In the mountains, there’s usually a lot of walking, hiking for me,” says Jim, laughing. “Vinnie can run up the hill, but I can’t.” The hill Jim refers to is Santa Fe Baldy. From the Ski Basin parking lot (elevation: 10,380 feet) to the summit, is about seven miles and a 2,900-feet cumulative ascent. He continues nonchalantly, “but we get out there and have a good time.”

“The range of runner that’s shown up at the workouts,” says Vinnie, “has gone from Olympic hopeful to walker.” Jim’s heard people say, “A running club? I’m not fast enough to join a running club,” but he sets the record straight. “We encourage people to come out and do what they want. If you want to walk it? Okay. If you want to push it? That’s okay, too. We have people that will push you. We break it into slower and faster groups. The exact same workout. So we really encourage people of all skills to come out.”

“Certainly, we’re a very inclusive club,” says Vinnie. “There’s competition in the club, but that’s far outweighed by the social desire to get more people to run.” Vinnie’s been a member for some 20 years. He continues, “What attracted me to the Striders, I was competitive at that time but now I’m older and [being a member] means I’m going to run more often and have more fun doing it. I’m going to have other people that share…” and he laughs, “the affliction of running.” Continue reading