Article written by Kristin Kleimann
If you’ve ever noticed the building located at 1776 S. Jackson Street, just off Colorado Boulevard and Mexico Avenue, you might have assumed it was an apartment building. In actuality, the Executive Club office building happens to house the longest functioning pilates studio in Denver, Pilates Esstentia: in business since the 1980s and in this location since 1991. In 2015, Peace of Mind Pilates moved to share the same space.
Sabra Blacklock of Pilates Essentia, and Marisa Oldefest of Peace of Mind Pilates, are the two women business owners behind the cooperating pilates studios. Marisa and Sabra first worked together several years ago when Marisa taught at Sabra’s Pilates Essentia studio. After a break for Marisa to raise her family and begin the Peace of Mind Pilates home studio, the two joined forces to work again collaboratively in one convenient location.
The shared studio houses a varied range of pilates equipment including two Cadillacs, three chairs, five reformers, five spine corrector barrels and one high carrel. The back of the studio includes space for mat classes.
Of course, it is these caring and passionate women business owners, Sabra and Marisa, who are key to the longevity, success, and devoted client following behind the boutique studio.
“Sabra is a master teacher who is able to not only teach the fundamentals, but can also address specific issues. She is AWESOME.” - Client Testimonial
Sabra Blacklock has over 27 years of pilates experience. She was trained in the Fletcher Pilates Method by Ron Fletcher and studied and worked at his studio in Los Angeles as a pilates apprentice. She is a certified Pilates Method Alliance Certified Pilates Teacher and Senior Professional Fletcher Pilates Teacher. She was also a part of a trio of women who put together the original teacher training for the Fletcher Pilates Company.
Sabra combines pilates with neurological and pain management elements with a goal to help clients get back to living life free of chronic pain. As she explains, “Our focus is around the education piece: how your body is supposed to be functioning, how it IS functioning, and bridging the gap to get clients to an optimal place.”
“I have taken Pilates with Marisa for over 11 years. When I first started, I had no idea what Pilates was, much less the benefits that would be gained. I was only looking for help for my balance and health. With Marisa's patient teaching and guidance, I have knees that keep working and balance to my body. Even though I am facing knee replacement surgery, my knees have gone on working better than the doctors have believed. I know that having Pilates has helped me build up my knees for the surgery and it will help in a quick recovery.”- Client Testimonial
Marisa is a Pilates Method Alliance Certified Pilates Teacher, Qualified Fletcher Pilates Teacher, Certified Massage Therapist, Certified Aroma Touch Technique Practitioner and a trained ballet and modern dancer. She has been teaching Pilates for over 20 years. Her focus is making pilates accessible to all age ranges (from teens to seniors) as well as pilates for pain management. As Marisa explains, “While we offer classes for all ages and fitness levels, our specialty really is working with injured clients and helping them get back to their fitness goals in a safe way. Our clients tend to stick around, and that speaks for itself.”
Classes and Staff
The boutique studio offers the best in Fletcher Pilates Method instruction. Classes run for 55 minutes and you can choose between mat or equipment classes. They also offer groups classes, duet classes, and private sessions.
“In 10 sessions you will feel the difference. In 20 you will see the difference. And in 30 you will be on your way to having a whole new body.” -Joseph Pilates
The studio staff are very experienced and combined, offer nearly 90 years of pilates experience.
On the third Thursdays of the month the studio hosts a “Pilates and Pinot” event where you can come participate in pilates and enjoy a glass of pinot after. Once the weather warms, the studio will be hosting a “Pilates in the Park” event which will be a pop-up mat class in either Observatory Park or Dinosaur Park on Mondays at 12:30pm.
Sabra and Marisa look forward to helping you use pilates to change your body, mind, and spirit!
Website: Check www.peaceofmindpilates.com for exact dates and times and to schedule a session. They are currently offering specials for new clients.
Location: 1776 S. Jackson Street, Unit 100. Denver, CO 80210
If so, meet your neighbor and “Dirty Paws” owner, Becky Luke.
Article written by Kristin Kleiman-Duggan
Becky Luke loves animals ---- all animals. She grew up on a ranch on the Western Slope and has been around many different animals all her life. It is no surprise that in May 2017, she started “Dirty Paws,” a pet care business that allows her to combine business with her passion for animals.
“We love them when you have to leave them.” -Dirty Paws
Through Dirty Paws, Becky offers many services from daily pet walking to full service overnight pet sitting. As Becky points out, “Our pets prefer being in their own homes as it makes them happier and less stressed.” Becky is comfortable administering medication, including insulin and pills and caring for older pets with special needs. While Becky mainly cares for dogs and cats--and some chickens--she’s has experience with other larger animals, like horses, cows, and pigs. She says she is a “stickler for providing fresh water, to keep pets hydrated and happy.” If she stays in your home, she also can bring in your mail, shovel your walk, and water your plants. She really does mean full service.
Becky provides her services to our local neighborhoods including Bonnie Brae, University and Observatory Park, Cherry Creek, Wash Park, and Cherry Hills. As a 20-year resident of Wash Park, some of Becky’s favorite places to take your canine companions on walks are in and around the neighborhood, including to Wash Park and the Highline Canal. Becky offers personalized and devoted attention to both her human and animal clients, so she does not mix different client’s animals. When she is with your pet, she is with your pet.
Dirty Paws has received top reviews on Yelp, Google, and through their testimonials:
Becky was so great with our babies! She house-sat for us while we went on a long weekend trip! Our girls were very happy to have her! I think she took better care of them than we do :) She sent us pictures and texts to us giving us updates on them, which is an added bonus! I highly recommend her...She loves our babies as much as we do!
Becky From Dirty Paws watched our very energetic dog, Oakley, who is 2 1/2 years old recently for 5 days. She did an amazing job! We loved how she had a checklist of questions and wrote notes when she came over to meet Oakley. Every day we got different pictures of her walking Oakley. She also watered our flowers and brought in the mail. It made it so much easier to leave our crazy boy knowing she was there to take care of him. Her heart is in the right place and she is so responsible. I highly recommend Dirty Paws!
What more could you or your pet ask for?
To contact Becky and Dirty Paws and for more information, please visit:
Dirty Paws, Becky Luke, 303.913.2544
What a cool find! This is our family's home of more than 40 years in the University Park/ Observatory Park neighborhood of Denver. It is known to friends and family now as "The Big House." From a newspaper ad in the 1924 Boston Christian Science Monitor. Apparently there were classifieds placed by cities in other city newspapers. Ahhhh, history.
Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places --
That was how in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.
(Robert Louis Stevenson)
On a rare, cool, grey, school day in September, I arrived to interview Helen Andresen, the owner of Iliff Preschool, Kindergarten, and School-Age Summer Camp. I was warmly greeted and given a comprehensive tour of the homey space. I was immediately struck and thrilled by the vast amount of unique outdoor play space. Eight separate age-appropriate playgrounds reflect the overall philosophy that the outdoor classroom is just as important as the indoor classroom for learning. Nearly every classroom is immediately open to the classroom playground so children can move seamlessly between in and outdoor space to explore, discover, and learn. These spaces are referred to as Outdoor Learning Labs.
A main goal is for the children to be outside as much as possible.
Research indicates that children who play outside are “smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious” than children who spend more time indoors. Other studies related to the benefits of children being outdoors include building confidence, promoting creativity and imagination, teaching responsibility, providing different stimulation, getting children moving, making children think, and reducing stress and fatigue. (www.childmind.org)
Iliff staff guide children in the Outdoor Learning Labs to use the environment as a place of learning and experimentation. The children and staff
The Iliff Preschool, Kindergarten, and Summer Camp was established in 1963. The overall educational philosophy is a blended one of play-based, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, natural influences, experiential, integrated curriculum and projects, learning by doing, whole child focused, embedded curriculum standards, and an overall “have fun” philosophy.
With a low student to staff ratio and open enrollment year-round,
eight different classrooms accommodate
Families love the school for many reasons including integrated instructional strategies, a focus on music, art, STEM, yoga, and dance.
As Helen Andresen summed, the school was “built on love and desire for the good of the community.” When you visit the school and see all the happy hearts and happy faces; you can’t help but conclude, she has achieved and surpassed her objective. This school is magical.
For more information, please visit www.iliffpreschool.com
Iliff Preschool, Kindergarten, and School-Age Summer Camp
4140 E. Iliff Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80222
This article was written by Kristin Kleimann and was published in the December 2017 issue of "Life in the Park" magazine for the University Park, Denver neighborhood.
Joan Slaughter, a resident of the University Park neighborhood, is the founder of the Morgan Adams Foundation, a non-profit that supports pediatric cancer research which is based in SE Denver. Joan and her husband, Steven, started the non-profit foundation in 2000 shortly after their daughter, Morgan, was diagnosed, at 5 years old, with a malignant brain tumor and passed away after an 11-month battle. As Joan and Steven became more involved with Children’s Hospital they quickly learned that more money was needed to fund pediatric cancer research, and began fundraising. At the time of her diagnosis, Morgan was attending Cory Elementary School. Joan credits both the Cory Elementary and University Park communities with the success of the foundation and the art auction event, ARTMA (art for Morgan Adams).
ARTMA is the signature event that was born out of this neighborhood community. Both the school and neighborhood communities rallied around this first event. Without that support, the foundation never would have happened. The first ARTMA event was in February 2001, had 200 pieces of art, 650 people in attendance, and raised $100,000. The event is now a biennial event (every even year) with the next event scheduled for February 2018 at the Evans School on 11th and Acoma.
The Morgan Adams Foundation also sponsors several other events.
The Morgan Adams Concours d’Elegance event is sponsored by the Morgan Adams Foundation and features 50 million dollars worth of rare and collectible cars, planes, and motorcycles and is held at the Centennial Airport in August. The event also features live and silent auctions, music, and food.
The Morgan Adams Foundation partners with other groups to support other pediatric cancer research fundraising efforts including:
Today, the foundation has funded over 4.5 million dollars in research projects and the research has resulted in significant progress in both short and long-term outcomes for children with pediatric cancer.
That, is something to really be proud of.
As Joan said: “It is THIS neighborhood that should be proud of what it has brought forward. We simply wouldn’t have been able to do what we do if the community hadn’t rallied around us and supported us in so many ways. This is a heart-based neighborhood.”
For more information about the foundation, events, and supporting the foundation, please visit: www.morganadamsfoundation.org
This article was written by Kristin Kleimann and appeared in the October 2017 issue of "Life in the Park" magazine.
“Our goal is to design and install spectacular kitchens and baths. When we do that, everything else falls into place.”
–Lewis Snyder (President of JM Kitchen & Bath)
That’s a pretty tall order from Lewis Snyder, a Colorado native and owner. But JM Kitchen & Bath- at 2324 S. Colorado Boulevard- has been doing exactly that for the past 41 years. As a full-service kitchen and bath dealer, they’ve been a part of the University Park neighborhood for the past 10 years and may well have designed one of your neighbor’s kitchens or baths.
JM Kitchen and Baths has won numerous awards, including:
Part of the secret of their success is that JM designers average 20 years of experience and can work within any budget. And they have one-stop shopping where homeowners, designers, architects, and real estate professionals can look through samples of cabinets, countertops, flooring, appliances, and more, all during one free consultation. The University Park location, one of two, also has 8 different kitchen displays so you can see how the whole design can come together.
JM Kitchen & Bath features the top brands you would expect from such a well-recognized company. They feature Sub-Zero, Wolf, Kitchen Aid, Whirlpool, Asko, Sharp, and other appliances to help you cook to perfection. Their cabinet lines include Crystal, Omega, Homestead, Homecrest, and Urban Effects. And you can top your cabinets with granite, quartz, Corian, laminate, metal, glass, tile, and other countertops.
“I don't think I will be able to move from my house now because I have never seen a kitchen I like as well. Many people have said that it is the most beautiful kitchen they have ever seen.” –Client Houzz Review
Are you are looking to start a kitchen or bath project? If so, please come in and check out their showroom today. Their services include: kitchen and bathroom design and remodeling, semi- custom and custom cabinets, professionally measured, fabricated and installed countertops, professionally produced floorplans, color elevations and perspectives produced on CAD computers, lighting design and installation, tile design and installation. In addition, they offer project management, storage, and delivery of their products. JM Kitchen & Bath provides some of the country’s leading brands of cabinetry, countertops, appliances, tile, and lighting. They can install these products, if you wish, and offer cabinet and product storage until you need everything, along with professional delivery. Most importantly, your new kitchen will be beautiful and functional. That’s been their goal for over 40 years.
You can visit and JM Kitchen & Bath at:
2324 S. Colorado Boulevard
Denver, Colorado 80222
This article was written by Kristin Kleimann and appeared in a past issue of "Life in the Park" magazine.
Ryan Surroz and his family are University Park residents and neighbors. He and his family have lived in the neighborhood since 2013. The Surroz Family loves living in the neighborhood and enjoys Dinosaur Park, morning and evening walks around the neighborhood, and The Pioneer and Ginza restaurants.
Besides his full time job, Ryan Surroz also serves as President of Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation. Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation is a philanthropic organization dedicated to raising money to support at-risk and disadvantaged children throughout Colorado. A secondary goal is to cultivate the talents of young philanthropists (generally young male business leaders aged 20-39 years old) and to raise awareness of those less fortunate. Ryan has been involved in the organization for six years, served on the board for 4 years, and previously acted as the Membership Chair. He has raised over $200,000 for Denver Active 20-30 and also sits on several other philanthropic boards.
“Denver Active 20-30 is the most rewarding activity that I pursue — I think it is safe to say that my involvement has developed into a healthy passion. I joined DA20-30 because I was inspired by this group of young professionals who were united in their dedication to supporting at-risk and underprivileged kids. I recognized right away that this was a truly unique organization and I wanted to be a part of it. Now as President of DA20-30, I see daily reminders of the impact on the kids that we support as well as the philanthropic leadership development in our members.” -Ryan Surroz (President of Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation)
This year, Denver Active 20-30 is celebrating its 29th anniversary. It has given away more than $10 million through several established fundraising events. The largest and most well known is the Denver Polo Classic, which is the nation’s largest charitable polo tournament and takes place at the end of June.
The next fundraising event is the 4th Annual Denver Active 20-30 Golf Classic presented by Bank of America-Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. It will be held September 15, 2016 at the Arrowhead Golf Club. Sponsors will be treated to breakfast, drinks, a catered lunch, and great prizes.
To find out more about the organization and how to get involved or to support the organization through their events, please visit: www.da2030.org
This article was written by Kristin Kleimann and will be appearing in the August 2016 issue of "Life in the Park" magazine.
“Esters is our way of using craft beer, great food, and atmosphere to build community” –Esters website
Originally from Buffalo, New York, Paul Sullivan moved to Colorado in 2002 to work first for a beer distributor and then for New Belgium Brewing, all the while planning to move back to New York. Fast forward to 2016 and guess who’s still here?
In 2004, Paul bought a home in the nearby Krisana neighborhood yet always felt the neighborhood was lacking a gathering place. Recently, opportunity finally knocked when “Easy Pickens,” an old dive bar, came up for sale. Paul put together a business plan and found the right team to make the dream a reality. Paul’s wife, Emily, is currently a Commercial Flooring Account Manager and spent many years as a commercial Interior Designer. The architect who designed Esters is friend of the family, Adam Harding, who works for Roth Sheppard Architects. “Emily helped with a lot of details and had a lot of the original vision, but Adam came up with the design. They both are incredibly talented and they really made the idea come to life,” said Paul. Esters will celebrate their one-year anniversary in June 2016.
All of the food at Esters is made from scratch and Paul says Esters tries to use and purchase local ingredients and support other local businesses. For example, Esters uses Bull & Bush (beer), Tender Belly (meat), Infinite Monkey Theorem (wine), and Bonnie Brae Flowers (flower arrangements).
When asked what his goal is for Esters, Paul said, "I have always enjoyed being a part of this neighborhood and hope that Esters can help make it even a better place to live." According to neighbors who attended the community night on March 28, 2016, Paul and Esters have succeeded...
Just had a wonderful meal at Esters. It is a cute place (bigger than it looks from the outside) located at Holly and Atlantic (just a couple blocks north of Evans.) Fantastic food. It's basically a pizza place, but the flavors are really interesting and wonderful. Great wine and beer list, good apps, salads and a fun Smores riff dessert. Definitely will go back. Highly recommend.
Just moved into the neighborhood in December and was so happy to discover Esters. [It’s] perfect for everything from brunch to watching the Super Bowl to just having a drink with my lady or friends.
For those of us with little ones it's a great place for families, and nothing better than sitting on the patio now that snow has turned to rain!
Some of the best pizza I've had in a long time [Fee Pizza]. Great flavor and crust. I would come back for it.
Favorite local spots: When the Sullivan family has a chance to sneak out outside of Esters they like to visit The Kitchen Next Door or Jax in the CitySet Center in Glendale. Paul also enjoys The Bull and Bush for a steak and one of their beers brewed on site. When the family has a couple of days together they try to go to either Frisco, Colorado, camping, or somewhere to play in the mountains.
Fun Facts about Esters:
Things to Remember about Esters:
1950 South Holly St.
Denver, Co 80222
Hours: Open weekdays at 11am, 10am on weekends
This article was written by Kristin Kleimann and will be appearing in the July 2016 issue of "Life in the Park" magazine.
How fortunate are we to live in an urban community that has a world class historical telescope, housed in an architecturally beautiful and historic building, available to the public on a regular basis?
Visit and answer for yourself…
What’s the history?
Construction on the Romanesque style Chamberlin Observatory, located at 2930 East Warren Avenue, in Observatory Park, Denver, began in 1890 after a generous donation by Humphrey Barker Chamberlin, a real estate businessman, in 1888. Chamberlin was one of Denver’s wealthiest citizens and believed in sharing his wealth and giving back to his community.
Robert S. Roeschlaub designed the building itself and the astronomical functions were designed by Herbert Alonzo Howe, who was the very first professor of astronomy at the University of Denver and first director of the Observatory.
The refracting telescope has a 20-inch aperture lens that was made by Alvan Clark and Sons of Massachusetts who were world renowned lens makers. The telescope is very large, at 28 feet long. The telescope became operational in 1894.
The Observatory is currently owned and operated by the University of Denver and is considered priceless.
Did you know these fun facts about Chamberlin Observatory?
Visiting Chamberlin Observatory
On April 12, 2016, we visited the Chamberlin Observatory for one of the public nights. Even though the night started off cloudy and rainy, we were lucky enough to have the skies clear enough to be able to view Jupiter and its red spot.
Here’s some more information about how you can visit.
The Observatory, through the Denver Astronomical Society (DAS), offers both public nights and open house nights throughout the year.
Events are appropriate for the cosmically-curious non-astronomer (or burgeoning astronomer) and are family-friendly.
Each public night event begins with a 45-minute educational presentation by a DAS lecturer. Afterwards, and weather permitting, guests are invited to tour the Observatory and view the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, and other celestial wonders through the 28-foot long, 20-inch aperture Alvan Clark-Saegmuller refracting telescope. If the weather is not good for viewing guests can still tour the building itself.
When: Each Tuesday and Thursday beginning at 8:30pm.
How: Make reservations online in advance (nights do sell out)
Costs: $4.00 for adults/ $3.00 for children (via PayPal online). http://www.denverastro.org/das/chamberlin-observatory/
Note: Children need to be at least 41” tall to be able to use the ladder to view.
Open House Nights:
Open House nights are for those who are interested in learning more about telescopes, cosmically curious children, parents, or teachers, or someone who is interested in learning something new.
Denver Astronomical Society members are available to share information and views from personal telescopes on the Observatory ground, and to answer questions about astronomy or telescopes. Members can also help guests learn how to operate a personal telescope.
When: Saturday of each month nearest the first quarter moon at dusk (varies by season- Winter, around 5:30 or 6pm, Spring and Fall, around 6:30 or 7:30pm, Summer, around 8 or 9pm) until 10pm. The remaining schedule for 2016 is as follows: June 11, July 9, August 13, September 10, October 8, November 5, and December 3.
How: Make reservations online in advance (nights do sell out)
Costs: $3.00 per person/ $5.00 per family (via PayPal online) to view through the Observatory telescope. There is no charge for only viewing through DAS member telescopes. http://www.denverastro.org/das/chamberlin-observatory/
Note: Children need to be at least 41” tall to be able to use the ladder to view.
2930 East Warren Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80210
Information line: 303-871-5172
Website for information about public and open house nights and observation conditions: http://www.denverastro.org/das/chamberlin-observatory/
Thank you to the websites of the University Park Community Council, Denver Astronomical Society, University of Denver, and Rosemary Stoffel for information relating to this article.
This article was written by Kristin Kleimann and will be appearing in the June 2016 issue of "Life in the Park" magazine.
“In the end, Interior Design is not about a budget or pieces of furniture filling up a space. To me, Interior Design is the reflection of your personality and how you want to portray it in your space." –Margarita Bravo (owner and founder of Margarita Bravo)
Originally an industrial engineer by trade, Margarita Bravo, moved to Denver with her family 9 years ago from Venezuela. She founded her interior design company, Margarita Bravo, in 2015 after falling in love with the University Park neighborhood and playing a key role in building and designing her family’s current home in the neighborhood. This experience helped her realize her passion for the overall process and the details involved in planning, designing, and decorating a space to create “lovable living spaces.”
Through her company, Margarita works projects that are both big and small, including working in new builds, remodels, and as an interior designer. She enjoys working with clients who have different styles and the challenge of creating spaces that integrate the needs and styles of all family members. Her aim is for everyone to see their personal styles reflected, therefore feeling comfortable and enjoying the space. Margarita is proficient at integrating key pieces that clients may already have along with new purchases.
“When working for clients, I base my craft on one simple premise: listen, listen and listen.” –Margarita Bravo
Margarita’s goal in working with clients is to have fun, be creative, and to listen to the needs of her clients so she can help clients visualize what is in their head and make the vision come alive. Interior design allows her to integrate many of her best skills including those as a trained industrial engineer, listening and advising, and as a mom, helping clients with children plan for the little details that help a home run smoothly.
"Interior Design is my gateway into a place where I can let my imagination go wild and think of ways to create something out of nothing. My mind, pen, paper, and unexpected places where I can find inspiration are the ingredients I need in order to turn my creative energy into a tangible reality." -Margarita Bravo
There are two main services that Margarita offers: design consultation and project based services. In a design consultation, Margarita meets with clients and gives ideas room by room. This tends to be more of a one-time meeting, with clients then completing the project on their own. Her project based services tend to be more intensive with Margarita partnering with clients to both plan and execute an overall plan for a large (whole home) or small (individual room) space. Margarita can do as little or as much of the execution as the client prefers. She can work within all budgets.
In addition, Margarita has a cadre of professional connections to help clients with additional services: for example, contractors, painters, wallpaper and carpet installers, and to help with purchases: for example, countertops, appliances, furniture, and hardware.
When asked what inspires her to work each day, Margarita perfectly summed, “I love what I do, and I truly enjoy helping people materialize their dream space.”
To see more samples of her work, visit her website at: www.margaritabravo.com.
Favorite local spot: The Jimenez-Bravo family loves Observatory Park and spends lots of time at the park playing soccer, football, having picnics, and meeting up with friends and making new friends in the neighborhood.
This article was published in "Life in the Park" magazine in May 2016 and was written by Kristin Kleimann.
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