One Stop Mecca

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 2.53.41 PMIt doesn’t have a menu. It doesn’t have a freezer. A microwave? Nope. Bouche doesn’t have a lot of things you find in most restaurants. The staff on any given night consists of one chef and one server. It’s a modest six-table restaurant across the street from a mall, located in the heart of a row of chain restaurants on the west side of Albuquerque at the end of Coors. But Bouche is actually something quite different from the conglomerates surrounding it. This independent eatery is situated in the core of a small building that houses four locally owned businesses, all surviving in extraordinary symbiosis—a special relationship where each supports the others in a quest to provide guests with a distinctive experience. The group comprises two full-service salons, a wine-tasting shop and a restaurant. A resort experience with no travel or overnight stay required. Continue reading

Superfood Power Balls

Wendy Borger, of Rasa (a Santa Fe juice bar that describes itself as a “gathering place and resource for those dedicated to positive, sustainable living through living foods and Ayurveda”), has created what she calls “these powerful little treats packed with nutrient-dense superfoods, healthy fats and, best of all, flavor.” Wendy suggests using organic ingredients whenever possible. The power balls, she says, help “curb cravings and cultivate the art of healthy snacking.” Continue reading

Paths to Follow

Want to get your walk on in Santa Fe? Here are a couple pedestrian-friendly routes for a lovely high-desert stroll. Each route begins from the Plaza.
Route 1

Wander west down San Francisco Street. Take a left on Guadalupe Street and hop on the paved path along the river. After crossing St. Francis Drive, the River Trail begins and travels to Frenchy’s Field, where you can trudge through the sandy riverbed arroyo or turn back toward town.


Route 2

Walk east up Palace Avenue and turn left onto Cerro Gordo. The narrow road is steep, and eventually, it turns dusty. The gradual incline quickly takes you high enough above town to look down onto the river valley. On the left, the Cerro Gordo Park is a good place to pause on a bench, or wander down to the river to stroll along the lush, tree-covered path by the water. If you choose to continue up Cerro Gordo, you can pick up the Dale Ball Trail where the road veers sharply to right. If you choose to wander it, bring a lot of water and follow the well-marked trail signs. The views of town and the mountains are breathtaking.

Continue reading

CrossFit Directory

Want to try CrossFit for yourself? We’ve got the rundown of locations in Santa Fe and Albuquerque:

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Santa Fe


Zia Cross Fit

1311 Siler Road, 505.699.8856


Undisputed Fitness

915 West Alameda Street




CrossFit Albuquerque

6501 Eagle Rock Ave NE, 505.507.1749


Duke City CrossFit

520 Airport Drive NM, Ste. C5, 505.933.9348


Sandia CrossFit

1224 Sawmill Road NW, 505.508.3138


CrossFit Hunger

1542 Stephanie Road SE, Rio Rancho, 505.264.0665


Desert Forge CrossFit

9674 Eagle Ranch Road NW, Ste. 6, 505.200.0262


Big Barn CrossFit

2420 Comanche Road, Ste. G, 505.235.2824


CrossFit to the Bone

9522 Osuna NE, Ste. A, 505.991.9114


CrossFit Sandstorm

965 West Highway 550, Ste. E, Bernalillo, 505.771.9110


Read our March 2014 CrossFit story here.

Native Healing

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 2.20.33 PMWhen the Seattle Seahawks won the 2014 Super Bowl, head coach Pete Carroll didn’t talk about strength or power, as one might expect in regards to the brute sport of football. Rather, he cited mindfulness and meditation as two of the key components to his team’s success. In an interview, Carroll summarized, “Simply put, mindfulness occurs when you become more aware of your thoughts.”

Carroll and his team meditated several times a week, as well as coordinated yoga (a mode of mindfulness practice) into their workout schedule. They cultivated the ability to quiet their minds, focus and be fully engaged in the game, and the results were impressive. These types of old teachings are certainly not exclusive to professional athletes; the purity and simplicity of mindfulness is quite democratic—all one needs is a quiet space and a span of time. We’ve all got that, right? Regardless, how many of us choose to spend ten minutes looking at our electronic devices rather than just sit in silence and pay attention to our breath?

Despite stacks of research touting the benefits of meditation, Karen Waconda-Lewis, Director at the Center for Native American Integrative Healing (CNAIH), believes “that root of thought and intention has been lost.” Karen, a healer like her grandparents and their grandparents, has been working in the Albuquerque area for more than 20 years, the past seven at the center’s current location on Dartmouth and Silver (though by the time this article goes to press, it will be at its new location in Old Town). There, she offers a place for spiritual renewal, relaxation and mindfulness, where the Buddhist teachings are blended with Native traditions, as the two indigenous cultures have always integrated meditation as a way “to take you to another level to understand the sacredness of life.” As she further explains, “There are times [that] the medicine of talking out is needed … but a lot of times the body just wants it to be quiet, to go back to what is the root and what is the internal space, because it’s covered up.”

Karen, a licensed massage therapist, has also been trained in Buddhist meditation by Joseph Goldstein, one of the first American vipassana (insight meditation) teachers; he is also co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. People from all ethnicities and cultures come to her for a wide range of ailments: physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual. The healing offered is always personal and varied. She gets a lot of calls for either a blessing or a prayer—for, say, young mothers preparing to give birth, for those who have passed or for those moving from the reservations to a new home in the city. It is important to acknowledge these times of transition that happen in everyone’s lives. Those are the times, she says, when we end up using flowers and aromatherapy, modalities that help to connect and ground people.

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 2.20.48 PMThen of course, there are those who are physically ill with cancer or diabetes, muscular aches and pains, migraines or bad dreams. Karen was taught by her mother and grandmother (who are from Laguna Pueblo) about flower essences and essential oils, and for these ailments she uses all her own organic oils. Her grandparents had a huge garden, and she recalls how her grandmother would boil her plants then skim off the oils and use them for healing. Karen also used to spend a lot of time with her grandfather, who is from Isleta Pueblo. As she recalls, “He used to take me to mines across the Southwest, and he’d put a rock in my hand in like, Silver City, the copper mines down there, and he’d say, ‘Close your eyes. What’s the first thing you feel? Don’t think about it, just what’s the first thing?’ And I’d say it, then he’d put another, sandstone, turquoise or whatever, and I’d say it from my body—what I was feeling—and that’s it.” Pretty soon, she was saving her money and traveling to mines all around the world, like Tanzania, which is how she ended up obtaining a lot of her minerals.  As Karen explains it, the sensations she felt from the minerals guided her in knowing which ailments they were used for.

In addition to the many types of integrative healing she practices, Karen also hosts Monday evening sessions at the healing center, when the massage table gets moved aside and folks gather to practice their meditation in a group setting for 30 to 40 minutes. Now and then, she says, “I may bring in other things to meditate with. I may bring in a crystal or an essential oil, a stone or an object, and they can meditate with that if they choose.”

Depending on the depth and breadth of one’s practice, there are also monthly teachings offered at the center, some of which are more specifically focused on the Buddhist perspective. “For example,” Waconda-Lewis explains, “we had an activity where we paired up and asked ‘What inhibits or what blocks your full expression of compassion?’ Whatever the person responds, the partner says, ‘Thank you.’ This exchange is repeated for three minutes, and at first people reveal generic stuff, but then you start really expressing what blocks your compassion. Then the next question is, ‘What fully allows you to express compassion?’ And to have someone just hear you and honor your space without any verbal or nonverbal judgment just opens someone up. They were able to see and feel on different levels what it means to express compassion.”

Four times a year for four days, during the solstice and equinox, there are also retreats, where people from as far away as Japan and gather outside of Albuquerque to sit in silence. Each solstice and equinox is aligned with an element: water, fire, earth or air. The food consumed during the retreats, all vegetarian, is also aligned to cleanse and rejuvenate the organs aligned with the respective element. For example, based on Chinese culture, water was the element for the winter solstice, and dark red, purple and black foods such beans and beets were used to cleanse and rejuvenate the kidneys and bladder.  “We eat in silence as well, and you’re really feeling the movement of chewing and swallowing and walking and sitting and following the breath and knowing the intentions.” This type of mindfulness brings awareness that all beings—whether plants or humans or animals—are all in this together. It simplifies the elements and reminds us that earth, air, fire and water are what we all share.

And the cost for any and all of this integrative healing? If an institution such as the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, or a hospital, is referring a patient, generally it will pick up the cost for that patient. But with the exception of massages, patients pay strictly by donation, and this, Waconda-Lewis says, is part of the healing for them. “We say, there is no cost with healing, but we also say, whatever comes from your heart, you’ll know that stretch. And don’t stretch it too far, but you’ve got to feel the stretch.” She doesn’t suggest what that “stretch” is (unless requested); she’ll just tell patients, “Whatever comes to you.”

In so many important ways, the healing center serves as a liaison for Native people to access traditional resources that are not typically available in the city. “At first,” Karen admits, “I didn’t want to do it. I just wanted a job, but it’s for the child within ourselves. And if we can learn to detox—we often think of detoxing our body, but we can learn to detox the mind and get to our pure nature.”

The pull to be a part of that healing process for others seemed to be something she could not deny. She also understood the difficulty of getting back to the reservation, and so, she says, “Here’s a place to turn to when there’s illness or when there’s transition. It’s just a place for people to really come back to their true home and their child nature and who they are born for.”

 The Center for Integrative Native American Healing. 505.503.5093. The director, Karen Waconda-Lewis (Isleta/Laguna) can be reached at

Story by Emily Beenen; photos by Kitty Leaken



Crossfit2The music is blasting across the open room, sound waves bouncing off the cinderblock walls. The smack of bars loaded with bumper plates on the concrete floor vibrates in my chest like a bass drum. I’m holding a bar at my shoulders, trying to steady my breathing before pushing it overhead. My coach is surveying the room. “Don’t stop now! Three minutes left. Keep pushing until the end,” he’s saying. All I can think of is getting through these push presses; then I can drop the bar and start on the pull-ups. Maybe I can get through one more round, I think. I feel like I might drop to the ground myself, like my chest can’t possibly take in any more air. And then, a flash of excitement runs through me. I love this! It’s a brief feeling—the workout is brutal—but it’s there. And I can’t get enough of this feeling.

CrossFit is a fitness regimen developed by Greg Glassman, a gymnast turned personal trainer (at one time, he trained the Santa Cruz Police Department). Although he spent years developing the idea of CrossFit, the official company was founded in 2000 and has quickly gained popularity. There are now over 7,000 affiliated gyms, or “boxes,” most of them in the U.S. In the briefest of terms, CrossFit can be defined as that which optimizes fitness (defined by Glassman as increased work capacity across broad time and modal domains). This means employing constantly varied functional movements performed at relatively high intensity.

There are many aspects of CrossFit, including diet, competition and developing physical skills. But the main goal of CrossFit is to improve functional fitness and health. “The concept of CrossFit,” explains Nate Harris, a coach at Undisputed Fitness on West Alameda Street in Santa Fe, “is, first and foremost, overall functional fitness for everybody.” This means making sure we’re ready for whatever life throws at us, whether it’s lifting a bag of dog food onto a shelf or living independently as long as possible as we get older.

CrossFit is different for everyone, and everyone comes to it for a different reason. I’ve known people who wanted to lose weight and folks recovering from addiction. There are firefighters and paramedics who need to stay in shape for their jobs, women recovering from having a baby and a wide array of athletes who participate in CrossFit to become better at their respective sports, including swimmers, runners, triathletes, cyclists, students of jiu-jitsu, MMA fighters and mountain bikers. For some, CrossFit is simply a way to stay in shape. For others, it becomes a lifestyle that reaches beyond the doors of the gym.

CrossFit1CrossFit borrows movements from many different disciplines, among them gymnastics, Olympic weightlifting, calisthenics and power lifting. Since I’ve been doing CrossFit, workouts have included running, rowing, squatting, burpees, clean and jerks, deadlifts, carrying sandbags (and partners!) over distances, pull-ups, jumping rope, handstands, flipping tires, climbing ropes and much more. A typical one-hour CrossFit class consists of a warm-up and group stretching, a few minutes of skill development and the high-intensity “workout of the day” (or WOD), which is timed to encourage some degree of competition, even if it’s just against yourself. A WOD can be as short as five minutes, but it will feel like the longest five minutes of your life. The workouts are almost never the same.

Because of its intensity and the wide range of skills involved, many people assume they’re not fit enough for CrossFit, but the program is designed to be adaptable for anybody. Every movement can be scaled for a particular person’s skill set, strength and abilities. Can’t do pull-ups? You can step into an elastic band that will help you pull your chin over the bar. Got a knee injury? The coach will instruct you to do a different movement instead of the squats that hurt your knees. BJ Monger, the owner of Zia CrossFit, points out the diverse demographic of people in the program. “We have a ton of people who are in their late 40s or 50s and some who are over 60,” he says. “They prove CrossFit isn’t just for a younger generation. They come in and work just as hard as everybody else and regularly beat younger athletes.”

The wide range of people involved and the group format of CrossFit classes mean that a sense of community is a huge aspect of the program—and partly why it has become so successful. At a regular gym, you’re usually by yourself, plugged into your headphones, running through a routine you’ve done before. At a CrossFit box, a coach is there to teach movements and explain the workout. Your “teammates” are pushing you a little harder than you might on your own. And when the WOD is really challenging—that is, all the time—everyone is there to cheer you on to the end, to encourage you not to give up, even if you are the last one to finish. A sense of community develops, and people come together outside class to have potlucks and parties. “I want people to come here and have a good time,” BJ says of Zia CrossFit. “We like to get together as a community for a barbecue once a month. Zia started with a couple of people, and from there it was all word of mouth. Good people bring more good people, and before you know it you’ve got a gym full of amazing people.”

“Everything that happens in the gym makes you better out there,” says Heather McKearnan, a coach at Undisputed Fitness. “It’s fitness for life as it occurs outside the gym.” This is particularly true of how CrossFit impacts a person mentally. A big part of this has to do with conquering fear. A common expression, BJ reminds me, is, “The biggest change in CrossFit is between the ears.” He says, “When people have been here a while, they have a mental change. People’s attitudes and mental states get better. They become more confident—the gym carries over into their real lives. It makes a difference in their interactions, knowing they can do things they didn’t think they could do.” Every day when I walk into CrossFit, I know I will come up against something that scares me, like trying to kick up into a handstand or jump onto a 30-inch box. There are times when I think, “I can’t finish this workout,” but when I do, it’s incredibly empowering. I can handle everything else that life throws at me, knowing I was able to do this physical thing that I literally did not believe I could do.

CrossFit3CrossFit is also there when school, kids, jobs and daily stresses steal the spotlight. For many CrossFit athletes, practicing good nutrition becomes an integral part of the fitness program. The paleo, or “caveman,” diet involves eating lean meats, high-quality vegetables, nuts and seeds, as well as some fruit, little starch and no sugar. It’s often practiced by those who participate in CrossFit. Just like CrossFit itself, the paleo diet may sound extreme, but BJ explains that it’s really about shifting the focus to the quality of the food you eat—grass-fed and local meats, organic produce and elimination of processed foods. “What our ancestors ate is irrelevant,” he says. “If you look at the foods in the paleo diet, it’s hard to argue that it’s a bad diet. Eliminating all the stuff that’s inflammatory is like a reset. Later, you can add back things slowly and discover what you’re really able to tolerate.”

Heather explains that although it’s not necessary to eat this way, improving your nutrition can have a serious impact on your overall health and fitness. “You have this entire community of people who are pushing themselves harder than the average human and who support you in that. So with that comes nutrition. It’s not necessary to eat better because you do CrossFit, but you’re going to feel the results of your nutrition on your performance, and when you start dialing all that in, it becomes a more holistic approach to fitness.”

One criticism of CrossFit is that it holds the potential for injury. Because it is more like a sport than going to a regular gym, CrossFit certainly can be dangerous. However, making sure you’ve got a great coach and knowing your limits can keep you out of harm’s way. Nate and Heather point out that as coaches, safety is always their first priority, and coaches are there to prevent injury. Athletes must also know their own limits. Nate says, “I always talk about the metaphorical cliff. You want to get close to it but not fall off.” In CrossFit, pushing yourself beyond the limits of what’s comfortable is important.

Hersche Wilson, a member of Zia CrossFit, tells me, “Personal limits are subjective. Most people quit a long way before reaching their limits in almost everything.”

Nate agrees. “Intensity is subjective. So it’s whatever pushing yourself looks like for you.” He quotes the founder of CrossFit. “Glassman says that the physical needs of an Olympic athlete and your grandmother differ by degree, not kind. So the level of difficulty is going to be what changes, not the actual movements themselves.”

CrossFit may not be for everyone. The timed workouts and competitive aspect may steer some people away, but nonetheless this program for improving functional fitness and health is becoming a way of life for more and more people. And that’s the name of the game—improving your quality of life. So if you never make it into a CrossFit box, the most important thing is to get moving, even if it’s just a walk. If you do feel up for the challenge, the best way to learn about CrossFit is to experience it for yourself. Santa Fe has two CrossFit boxes with great coaches and an amazing community of people. I’ll see you in the next WOD!

Story by Erin Brooks; photos by Gaelen Casey

For a directory of CrossFit centers in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, click here.