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Top Fitness Studio/Gym
When the pandemic hit, Natalie Baumchen was running fitness programs for Denver Parks and Recreation. Which is to say, her life’s work came to a screeching halt. Rather than let her charges melt into their couches, however, Baumchen designed a streaming exercise service for the city and county that eventually drew 13,000 participants in only seven weeks. Seeing how badly people were craving action, Baumchen decided to take her approach to a wider audience and founded Fit Collective in November 2020 as a virtual studio. And when that proved successful, she expanded again in 2021, pouring her savings into a shiny new 2,000-square-foot physical space in the Clayton neighborhood. Today, Fit Collective offers 35 in-studio classes per week, 18 live virtual classes every week, and more than 80 on-demand sessions through its website, ranging from yoga to kickboxing to weightlifting.
While all those options are nice, it became perfectly clear to us—10 minutes into a post-work, in-studio Grit (resistance-focused circuit training) class—that, with Baumchen, the medium doesn’t matter. The studio staffs 18 certified instructors, but the founder happened to be teaching our session. And although our quads burned, we felt energized, motivated, and not at all out of our league—a rarity for those of us in our 40s. She corrected clients’ form when they needed it, encouraged them when they really needed it, and maintained the necessary you got this vibe while somehow keeping the experience chill and, dare we say, fun. Although the classes are plenty challenging for even high-level athletes, “individuals who are newer to fitness, prenatal or postpartum, coming off of injury, or needing some extra attention seem to gravitate to my studio because the instruction method employed by staff is very inclusive,” Baumchen says. Fitness-phobes, welcome home.
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Top Local Outdoor Gear Store
Boulder’s renowned gear hub celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this year—a milestone made possible by continued retail revolutions that are hyperfocused on serving Front Rangers’ expanding outdoor needs.
1973: Gary Neptune, an avid climber with a resumé full of formidable ski accomplishments and summits (including Mt. Everest), opens a small mountaineering shop in Boulder that repairs climbing and ski boots—and allows the owner to geek out with adventurers.
Late 1970s: Neptune begins building his signature in-shop mountaineering museum, which will come to hold illustrious artifacts such as boots from Sir Edmund Hillary’s Everest summit, a down suit worn on the first nonoxygenated ascent of Mt. Everest, and examples of the evolution of the Chouinard carabiner.
Circa 1980: Neptune welcomes outdoor leaders through an informal speaker series. They include icons such as Peter Habeler and Reinhold Messner (the first climbers to summit Everest without O’s) as well as other athletes who lecture on conservation.
1993: After several location changes, the store lands at its current home, a cavernous space in a South Boulder retail center. Neptune expands his inventory by stocking more mainstream outdoor equipment.
2013: Neptune retires and sells to Texas-based Backwoods Retail. But after four years of declining business stemming in part from customers’ disconnect with the absentee owners, Backwoods declares bankruptcy.
2017: Touting an ambitious revitalization plan, Boulder locals and longtime Neptune customers Andrew and Shelley Dunbar purchase the store and invest $1 million in renovations. The upgrades include a cafe, a climbing wall, and the Neptune Lab, a startup incubator for local outdoor companies.
2021: Having been restored to its former glory, Neptune is purchased by Bob Wade and Maile Spung, owners of another indie Colorado gear store, Aspen’s Ute Mountaineer.
2022: Semiregular Thursday night speaker engagements make a comeback, featuring seminars, skills clinics, and film screenings.
Denver has more than 250 urban parks, which means picking the best one is difficult enough even before you factor in the wilder retreats just beyond city limits. In fact, it was so hard to choose between city and suburban escapes that we decided not to.
In the City
In spring 2022, Denver Parks and Recreation unveiled a $2.5 million overhaul that restored the shine to this hidden gem, which has been perched above northwest Denver since 1910. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Inspiration Point now boasts a modern, nature-inspired playground that’s split into big- and little-kid areas and resides in a meadow ringed by evergreen trees. Those pines provide a curtain from urban distractions without obscuring what’s drawn residents here for longer than a century: a killer panoramic vista of the Front Range.
In the Suburbs
Thirty minutes from downtown Denver, near Morrison’s quaint main drag, Lair o’ the Bear is a temple to the spoils that Mile High City residents can treat themselves to on a weekend. Need a kid-friendly hiking or mountain bike trail? Bruin Bluff is a 1.5-mile stroll that winds along a lush, picturesque hill. Want a tougher challenge? Enjoy a 12.6-mile round-trip journey on Bear Creek Trail, which passes through three Denver Mountain Parks. Trout await anglers in the clear waters of Bear Creek, while shaded woods welcome picnickers. Bonus: A new biker-only path, the four-mile Rutabaga Trail, opened this past spring.
2449 S. Broadway | 303-733-0303
6630 Bear Dance Drive | 303-681-4653
Hike Within 90 Minutes of Denver
21992 Golden Gate Canyon Road | 303-271-5925
Local Outdoor Gear Store
3936 Tennyson St. | 303-903-8584
12650 W. 64th Ave., Unit F | 720-231-4771
2714 W. 44th Ave. | 303-495-6996