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

ziacrossfit.com

 

Undisputed Fitness

915 West Alameda Street

undisputedfitness.com

 

Albuquerque

 

CrossFit Albuquerque

6501 Eagle Rock Ave NE, 505.507.1749

crossfitalbuquerque.com

 

Duke City CrossFit

520 Airport Drive NM, Ste. C5, 505.933.9348

dukecitycrossfit.com

 

Sandia CrossFit

1224 Sawmill Road NW, 505.508.3138

sandiacrossfit.com

 

CrossFit Hunger

1542 Stephanie Road SE, Rio Rancho, 505.264.0665

PoweredByPrimal.com

 

Desert Forge CrossFit

9674 Eagle Ranch Road NW, Ste. 6, 505.200.0262

desertforgecrossfit.com

 

Big Barn CrossFit

2420 Comanche Road, Ste. G, 505.235.2824

bigbarncrossfit.com

 

CrossFit to the Bone

9522 Osuna NE, Ste. A, 505.991.9114

crossfittothebone.com

 

CrossFit Sandstorm

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

cfsandstorm.com

 

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 native2heal@yahoo.com.

Story by Emily Beenen; photos by Kitty Leaken

 

CrossFit

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.

The Quiet Side

By the time the end of the year rolls around, my secret fantasy is just to unplug. As holiday distractions beat a final retreat and winter lumbers its lugubrious self in for real, I’d love to rip the January page right out of the calendar and hunker down by the wood stove. Let the wind howl, the snow pile up till it buries my car —I’m inside.

TooQuietKLdec2013

Photo by Kitty Leaken

Is it Friday? Sunday? Who cares? I could eat luxurious breakfasts, spread art projects across the table, read, write, follow the meandering of my thoughts. Periodically my dog and I would venture out, he tearing around joyously marking all the chamisa bushes, me walking meditatively down the arroyo amongst coyote and rabbit tracks, pulling frozen air deep into my lungs and studying the map of sky. Shivering more deeply into my coat as the chill seeps in, I’d hurry us back homeward across the mesa. Stoke the stove, pull up a cushion and, over dinner, in the flickering firelight, I’d sit, eyes unfocused, dreaming shapes in the flames. Shadows lengthen, time blurs, a comforting silence envelops and my witness self begins whispering messages of encouragement, nourishment, possibility. Until, at last, sated, I’d wander off to bed beneath stars, hard and bright outside my window. Wrapped in a cocoon of flannel and down, I’d drift into a childhood realm of magic, as fantastical creations come alive behind my eyelids, luring new sides of myself out to play. Continue reading

Too Big To Wrap

Have you ever thought you might have too much stuff? Yeah, me too, and with Christmas (or, as my sister calls it, The Great Redistribution of Goods) coming…

But wait. There are alternatives. We can give an experience as a gift—better yet, an experience in our great out-of-doors!

TooBigToWrapDec2013

Soaring

Rolling down the runway, from the snug front seat I’m strapped into, I realize the glider takes off before the plane pulling us––its wings are that efficient.  Up we go. There’s the sturdy rope arcing out in front of us, attached to the tow plane. We continue to climb. The views are spectacular; the glider responds to every little movement of air. The pilot, sitting behind me, brings my attention to the big red knob on the instrument panel. I am to give it a good yank when he says so. He then steers the glider into a climb to the right. This is felt by the pilot of the tow plane and signals we’re going to detach. Continue reading

Sharing the Slopes

Story by Kate Gerwin
Photos courtesy of the Adaptive Ski Program 

For Katya Franzgen, Director of the Adaptive Ski Program, serving Santa Fe, Sandia Peak and Pajarito Mountain, the question, “What if you couldn’t enjoy the outdoors?” is anything but rhetorical.

Being stuck inside, she says, is the reality for many people living with spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis and a wide range of other disabilities. You could admire the scenery from afar, Katya continues, the distant mountains blanketed in white, faint echoes of people up there having fun. But, parked behind your window, you might just as well be watching a movie. The exhilaration of your own body slicing the brisk, muffled air, through a storm of snowflakes slanting at you vertically, fast and furious, feeling yourself being as miraculously transformed as the landscape—these sensations are, typically, as inaccessible as a dream.

During the winter months, especially, disabilities often keep people isolated at home, with recreational opportunities limited to physical therapy exercises. Cabin fever exacerbates the feeling of alienation; loneliness, depression and poor physical health often follow.

The Adaptive Ski Program (ASP) actively works with members of the disabled community over the age of five who have a desire to challenge themselves to go beyond what they may have thought possible. Think that sounds overly optimistic? According to Katya, “Even if your whole body is paralyzed, as long as you can turn your head—or even just your eyes—you can be an adaptive skier.” Go to the video gallery on adaptiveski.org, the 501(c)(3)’s website, and watch the video. You’ll see for yourself the wide range of students willing to embrace their initial fears and let gravity become their ally. Katya’s personal mantra, repeated in all earnestness, is, “Never say never.”

To adapt means to actively change so as to fit one’s behavior or attitudes to new circumstances. In the video, ASP student Matthew, from Albuquerque, five days into the program, is positively thrilled. “When I drove home after my first lesson,” he enthuses, “I had a smile on the whole day, and I couldn’t wait for the following Saturday to come!” Amanda, another student interviewed for the video, says, “Skiing is much different than a wheelchair. You get a whole lot closer to the ground!” She describes the ways the program has helped her grow as a person and become more independent. “Even if you get up on the wrong side of the bed,” she adds, “you come up here and your whole day turns around!”

While some ASP students can ski using standard equipment, most use adaptive aids. For students with lower body paralysis or dysfunction and severe balance or motor control issues, mono- and bi-skis offer a seated method of skiing. Outriggers are miniature skis attached to a set of forearm crutches. For those with lower limb amputation or weakness, one standard ski is used with outriggers. Snowboarding is also available. The ASP provides private, one-on-one lessons tailored to address the specific needs of each student.

 

But, of course, there would be no program without its core of 250 volunteers. “The volunteers are everything!” says Matthew. “They bust their butts. They pick you up off the snow, time and time again, and, no matter what, they keep giving you positive influence.”

Fred Walling, a volunteer shown in the video as he skis tethered behind a student, says that skiing is twice as joyful when you do it with a student than when you do it by yourself. “Your turns have to be okay,” he says, “but the real turns you’re living are theirs.” He demonstrates following closely but unobtrusively behind as his student executes a graceful, confident turn of his own.

Being an ASP volunteer, says Ruthie Koval, who’s been one since 1998, requires an enormous amount of patience and understanding. “It’s a lot harder and more responsibility than you might think. The majority of our students are younger. You have to be quite fine-tuned. They arrive feeling differently every week. They could have had seizures the night before, or their cat might have died that day, and they can’t express that. We also need to know the side effects of all their medications—not because we administer them, because we don’t, but so that we can track those, too.”

Ruthie is certified as a regular ski instructor as well as an adaptive ski instructor; she trains the new ASP instructors. But she started out at ASP a rookie. “My son had multiple disabilities: seizures, mental retardation and some kind of autism. I started skiing with him when he was seven.” As a girl growing up in Switzerland, Ruthie skied to school every day; she also worked in ski resorts. So teaching her son to ski came naturally to her. “I didn’t know adaptive ski instruction—I didn’t even know there was such a thing—I just skied backwards with my son. He loved to ride the chair lift!”

She and her family moved to Santa Fe, and there, at the ski basin, they discovered the Adaptive Ski Program. “He’s basically my motivation as an instructor. My son died in a seizure, so I teach adaptive skiing in honor and memory of him. I transfer my love for my son to the kids.”

One of her current students, Colin, she’s skied with for 13 years. “I love working with all of them hands-on. That’s by far the best part of it all. Colin has Down syndrome. I tell you, he is a great skier! Every Sunday morning I look forward to skiing with him. We’ve even formed a group, which is rare. Sometimes I let him be the leader and do the warm-up moves. It’s a blast! They’re always so happy to be outside, in the snow and air, yelling all the way down the mountain, their parents taking pictures. I have one boy with cerebral palsy who comes every spring vacation with his family from Dallas. He skis on a slider, which is like a walker. He calls it his choo-choo train.” Public schools bring special ed classes up for instruction every year; different groups who work with children with cancer come, too.

The program also works with students with developmental delays, the blind and hearing impaired and those with critical illnesses such as AIDS. It’s a wide scope, and instructors have to be well trained. First-year instructors learn the many intricacies of teaching adaptive skiing. Then, as Katya says, “they go out with a veteran instructor their first season—we don’t just throw them to the wolves!” And instructors often take it on themselves to learn about a new adaptive ski aid, so they can help a specific student who needs that technique.

Nineteen-year-old Augusta Skroog, who started out as an ASP student herself, then advanced to junior instructor and now is a volunteer, is an ardent fan of the program and stresses how hard they’ve worked all these years to help students with disabilities like herself. “Skiing helps students be more confident. You feel like you’re not normal, then you learn to ski and you say, ‘Oh, hey, I can actually do something!’ I tell scared first-timers, ‘Take it one step at a time. We’re here to have fun, not to push you. We’ll go slowly, help you get comfortable, take you out for a run, and you’ll learn how to do the basic turns, then we’ll try more advanced terrain. Our goal is to make sure you have fun and you’re safe. It’ll be fine.’” She’s worked with one student, Isa, over the past three years, watching her improve and become progressively more independent. “She’s grown up and developed as a person, too, not just with skiing. I’m so proud of her!”

Winter season runs from late January to mid-March each year. And this past summer, due to students continually requesting it, ASP became year-round, now offering water skiing, kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding and swimming at local lakes. “Students and their families go camping together, cooking and getting to know each other better. It’s a very inclusive experience,” says Katya. “And equalizing. Some of the younger students, especially, really earn their bragging rights for completing the first successful water ski lap around the lake!”

Katya’s particularly proud of the program’s visibility. “One of the park rangers at the lake was blown away at the creativity of our instructors constructing wheelchair ramps on the beach!” she laughs.

ASP offers scholarships to students whose families have limited discretionary funds. “They’re struggling just to provide the assisted care, the medical therapy, the special equipment and medications,” says Katya. “Over sixty-five percent of our students, in fact, wouldn’t be able to participate without full or partial scholarships.” So ASP relies on the incredible generosity of its donors and its fundraising events in order to provide instruction, ski wear and access to the newest adaptive sports equipment to fit students’ individual needs. This winter season they’ll bring back their popular Snow Ball as well as the wreath sale, outside Kaune’s on Saturday, November 30, and Saturday, December 7.

Katya calls herself “the luckiest girl in the world” to have landed this job, which marries her passions for skiing and nonprofits. Asked if she ever cries as she watches the progress the students in the program make, she says, “Every time I see that video! It’s really empowering to be a part of something that gives people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to be up there in the mountains, on skis, the opportunity to experience freedom and fun and getting to move with such fluidity and grace.”

Ruthie, laughing at herself, says, “Whenever I meet someone new, I ask, ‘Are you a skier? Do you have any free time?’ It’s a great, great program. I’ll be very grateful if I can keep doing this for a long, long time more. I can’t wait for the first snowflake—I come alive this time of year. It’s the ultimate thing, watching the students being high on air!”

To learn more about the services of the Adaptive Ski Program or how to become a volunteer, go to their website adaptiveski.org. If you wish to make a donation to this wonderful organization, you can do so right online.