John Hand had a theory: for any problem a person might have, someone in their local community has a solution. To that end, he founded Colorado Free University, continuing a tradition that began with the Denver Free University of the 1970s and early '80s. Whereas the Denver Free University was created as a political move to make education more accessible, the Colorado incarnation sets its sights on simple personal betterment, becoming more of a learning network than a school. All of its teachers are independent contractors culled from the local community, and together they helm skill-based and enrichment classes for adults, spanning a range of artistic, humanitarian, and business disciplines.
Students can receive training in foreign languages or ASL, business or digital marketing, or acting, visual arts, or woodworking. The school's facilities also accommodate CompuSkills computer-training classes, which progress from basic sessions in computer operation to advanced sessions in photoshopping a ghost out of a family portrait. There are cooking classes, foreign language courses, and style classes, all of which turn out well-rounded pupils. The campus's 89-seat John Hand Theater, meanwhile, hosts intimate performances from local Firehouse Theater Company and Spotlight Theatre Company.
Walking through the front doors and taking in Pilate's Aligned's soaring ceilings, graceful curves, and exposed brick walls, clients feel rejuvenated. The sight of light spilling onto hardwood floors and Pilates Reformer equipment says everything: this is a place to reshape your body. At this traditional Pilates studio, certified instructors lead members of all skill levels through mat and reformer classes, helping them to sculpt long, lean muscles, build core strength, and move with the fluid grace of a roller blading gazelle.
Besides building a fitter body, Pilates classes can play a significant role in injury rehabilitation. No one knows this better than Pilates Aligned founder Cara Resser. The former NYU dance student first came to Pilates while recovering from a broken back. Over the course of two years, Cara practiced Pilates under the guidance of Kathy Standford Grant, a former disciple of Joseph Pilates who was once an injured dancer herself. It was through Kathy's gentle guidance that Cara regained the lost core strength and alignment she needed to continue her dance career, and ultimately inspired her to teach Pilates in addition to her work teaching dance and movement studies at Naropa University.
Reflecting on this childhood, Chris Keating sometimes feels as if he didn't exist. His parents' divorce left him with very little tangible evidence of his formative years, so he's spent his adult life as a photographer making sure children can look back fondly at warm family memories. Chris Keating and his Calgary staff have made this a reality for more than 3,000 families since opening the doors to Towne Photography in 2006. There, the professional photographic crew shoots posed and candid shots of families, children, couples, and babies at picturesque parks or against their studio backdrops, and they also snap triumphant graduate portraits, intimate prenatal shots, and provocative passport pics that make border crossing a breeze. Their ironclad guarantee allows unsatisfied clients to request reshoots, reprints, or resizing on all photographs, and they vow to remake or recapture any artwork that sustains damage over the years. Chris also takes his photographic knowledge on the road to conduct Betterphoto Workshops across the United States and Canada, teaching novice photographers how to artistically preserve their most precious memories.
Spanish Is Fun founder Silvia Cubillos Velez knows that learning Spanish will be of great practical use in her students’ lives and careers, but the school’s goals don’t stop there. "We want people to be enchanted with the classes so they, too, can love the language and the culture," she told Viva Colorado. Though she traveled to Spain to complete her language education, Velez retains a deep love for the traditions of her Colombian homeland, and accordingly makes sure to weave Latin American literature and culture into her classes.
No matter what age or ability level they teach, the school’s staff of native Spanish speakers focus on communication rather than just conjugating verbs and memorizing vocabulary. Their formula has now been bringing students toward comprehension and fluency for more than a decade. Instructors immerse language learners in Spanish through techniques such as leading them in discussion groups or dunking them in a replica of the Alhambra fountain. They’ll also often swap classes to familiarize students with an array of accents and sounds, making full use of backgrounds that range from South America to Europe.
Root Yoga Center's owners created their studio to give clients a space to explore their metaphorical roots by examining their physical, spiritual, and emotional bodies through yoga practice. This goal is reflected in the studio’s philosophy, which emphasizes balance, encourages beginners to take risks, and focuses on the healing powers of yoga epitomized by the now-famous "Kiss the Boo Boo" pose. From Vinyasa to Forrest and Anusara Flow, many yoga modalities are practiced in the studio depending on the class session’s teacher and difficulty level.
Every teacher at Root Yoga Center is an experienced yogi and puts the school's philosophy into practice during regular classes or supplemental practices such as qi gong, physical therapy, and nutritional counseling. The instructors’ schedules are packed as well: classes take place all day, every day, and the staff routinely hosts community events and workshops.
When Tabetha Landt Hastings opened the box of painting supplies, she could barely hold back the tears. Her sister had been an artist and avid painter, and Tabetha was trying to cope with her passing when she picked up the brushes she inherited and put paint to canvas for the first time. The sensation was almost indescribable to her: she instantly felt an intimate sense of familiarity with the art form despite never having attempted it before. She knew then that something more was going on within her?a new connection was forever made?and she dove into painting with her sister in mind.
Years have passed since that first stroke, but Tabetha maintains the same fervor that marked her beginnings in painting as she sells her own art and leads classes. Her three-hour workshops invite students to see where their imaginations can take them while interpreting a chosen work in a group setting. She also hosts a paint club, which gathers artists of all skill levels to paint together.