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Discovering a Sense of Community in a Fast-Growing City

Thousands of people move to Denver for a healthy lifestyle and nourishing community. Members of The Denver Athletic Club say they find this community at The DAC where benefits go beyond fitness to include events, dining and a coworking space.

At the Denver Athletic Club, Members create a sense of community that extends far beyond fitness, nourishing their social life, enjoying remote work together and deepening their connections in Denver.

Discovering Community at The Denver Athletic Club

From a mental health perspective, 2022 and 2023 have been challenging years, with an estimated 1 in 4 people globally affected by mental health issues. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this with loneliness, anxiety, and depression rates skyrocketing by 28% since 2020.

With these shifts in our collective psyche come a shift in priorities for people choosing where they want to live. Community, mental health, and overall wellness have risen to the forefront of priorities and many people are moving to Denver in search of a more nourishing community.

Community, mental health, and overall wellness have risen to the forefront of priorities and many people are moving to Denver in search of a stronger community.

In the next 20 years, 1.1 million people are expected to move to Denver, and both settled and new Denverites say they love living here for the city’s healthy, active lifestyle.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, I leaned on my community at the Denver Athletic Club,” says Paul Bergman, long-time Denver resident and President of The Denver Athletic Club (DAC). “So many people were facing loneliness and isolation and I felt fortunate to have access to an amazing fitness facility with folks encouraging each other to stay active and healthy.”

Studies have shown that strong community, fitness and overall awareness of your well-being can act as antidotes to stress, depression and anxiety, as well as obesity and other diseases.

“The DAC community helps me feel more closely tied to the city. Denver is thriving right now, and The DAC is growing with it. I’ve met great friends at The DAC who push me athletically and help me stay connected,” says Bergman.

Surround yourself with athletes at The DAC

Coloradans are proud to live in the fourth healthiest state in America. People move to Colorado, and specifically Denver, for the active lifestyle. At The DAC, members find others who encourage them to be their strongest, healthiest selves.

Erika Manilla, U.S. Women’s Racquetball Singles Champion, has been a member at The DAC for eight years and has been a part of the leagues and racquetball community for longer. Her first-ever racquetball lesson was taught by former DAC Pro, Dr. Jo Shattuck, 16 years ago.

“There is no way my parents knew that starting me (then six years old!) and my brother Adam in lessons would turn into our lifelong passion and careers,” says Manilla. “The DAC has been an important place for me — it’s where I train, learn, compete and spend time with my closest friends and family.”

Erika Manilla, U.S. Women’s Racquetball Singles Champion, teaches and plays Racquetball at The DAC on the club’s six racquetball courts. The DAC also has seven international Squash courts as well as facilities for basketball, volleyball, pickleball, boxing, gymnastics and X-Fit.

In addition to racquetball, The DAC is home to the largest squash program in Colorado, with intense competition year-round including the famous Hashim Khan Tournament.

With 24/7 access to 125,000 sq. feet of fitness amenities, Members can train and stay healthy year-round whether they prefer running, weights, basketball, pickleball swimming, yoga, cycling, boxing, or group fitness classes led by fitness professionals. After a workout, members unwind using the club’s saunas, steam rooms, soaking tub, physical therapy and massage rooms.

The DAC Fitness Center has 10,000 square feet of cardiovascular and weight training equipment surrounded by five group exercise studios with 100 free classes per week. There is also a 25-meter, 8 lane indoor swimming pool

Creating connections in coworking spaces

Since the pandemic, remote work has exploded in popularity. In 2020, Colorado ranked third in the US for the highest percentage of remote workers, and the number of remote workers tripled between 2019-2021. Remote work has its perks: fewer commuting hours, higher productivity levels, and childcare flexibility, for instance. But it also has its downsides—workers say it can contribute to loneliness, depression, and fewer connections between colleagues.

To bridge the gap between remote and office work, The DAC recently renovated its second floor into a flexible coworking space. The space offers a concierge, a snack bar, fireplaces, desk space, meeting areas, and private phone booths, as well as a quiet library. In the coworking space, members have found opportunities to spark conversation and make meaningful relationships with people from various industries and diverse backgrounds.

The 6,700 square foot Coworking Space was built in 2022. Open 24/7, the space includes a coffee bar, soundproof phone booths, day lockers, tables and chairs, soft seating and space for meetings.

“Sure, the clubhouse itself is incredible,” says Bergman. “It’s an entire city block, with every amenity you could want. But I’ve really found that our community is not so much defined by the place; it’s all about the people.”

A year filled with social events

The social calendar at The DAC is always bustling. At monthly wine and whiskey tastings, Members get to meet friends with common interests, support small businesses, and get a taste—literally—of the local community. For families, popular events include holiday brunches and the best seats in town during Denver’s famous holiday Parade of Lights.

An annual Boxing Night, a robust speaker series and a host of music, food and beverage events round out the calendar to provide a social event nearly every week of the year. Plus, the three unique dining venues offer something for every taste palette, from healthy to-go snacks in the Café, to watching a game in the Pub, to enjoying a formal sit-down dinner in the Centennial Room.

Social events at The DAC feature something for every generation; the views from the Sundeck are unbeatable.

Of course, DAC Members also socialize outdoors. Denver is known for its beautiful scenery and outdoor lifestyle, and The DAC embraces that by organizing outdoor trail runs, mountain bike rides and group exercise classes at Red Rocks. These activities improve overall wellness, fitness, and happiness by blending the best of Denver’s local scenery with the best of its community.

Living the Denver lifestyle

While exercising is a great way to release endorphins and stay fit, living “well” doesn’t stop at the gym. Balancing work, family, and wellness is essential to living a healthy life, and The DAC strives to be a club for every aspect of members’ lives.

Rachael Porter, President of the DAC Young Professionals, says, “I moved to Denver without knowing many people. But I feel like I’m thriving now because I’ve met so many members that share the same interests as me. I truly love that I can go at any time and know someone. The DAC has made me feel a part of a community.”

At The DAC, members share special moments with friends, family, and colleagues by hosting parties and events in the various private spaces and enjoying happy hours on the club’s urban sundeck. Young families utilize the Childcare Center for daycare and drop-off care. And, many members take advantage of the numerous club amenities, including the indoor golf simulator, same-day massage appointments, a premier med spa, a hair salon and even shoeshines.

Social events at The DAC include wine and whisky tastings, speakers and musical performances. Members enjoy dining in three unique dining spaces.

Defining the Denverite experience

As we emerge from pandemic life, it’s more important than ever to strive for healthy, balanced lives. Denver is home to many in search of lifelong wellness, and its traditions and spirit attract people from all over the country. At the Denver Athletic Club, Members find a place that nourishes these needs while providing access to a healthy community.

As Bergman put it, “The DAC means so much to me. It is my second home.”