WESTWORD'S BEST OF DENVER 2015
The best place to work out like Nadia Comaneci
Awaken is not your average gym. It doesn't feature rows and rows of treadmills, sweaty exercise bikes and back-to-back episodes of House Hunters International playing on wall-mounted TVs. Instead, the sunny studio on Santa Fe is filled with rings, bars, and a pommel horse, and offers classes such as Handstand Strength and Gymnastics Foundations. If you've ever dreamed of sticking the landing like Olympian Nadia Comaneci, or of building rock-hard abs and Michelle Obama arms in a fun atmosphere with no HGTV, Awaken is your spot.
The Wall Street Journal | April 6, 2015
After Work, an Architect Heads to the Bars, Rings, and Mat
By Jen Murphy
Mr. Vaughn attends hourlong gymnastics classes on Tuesday and Thursday nights. The classes work to build strength to properly enter a pose such as a handstand, among other things. Handstand skills are broken down to focus on strength and balance. A handstand class might practice entering the pose in a number of ways, such as piking both legs up at the same time. “Part of the trick is practicing different ways so that you become comfortable with all of them.”
He says most classes are geared toward progression. A rings class for a beginner, for instance, typically starts with a dead hang. “That seems simple but just hanging with your arms above your head is hard,” he says.
The next week’s class then goes onto a false grip, where your wrists are balanced inside the rings to give you a shelf to push off from. “I felt like my wrists might rip off when I first tried it,” he says, “but you slowly develop calluses, which help perform moves like a muscle-up.” A muscle-up starts with a false grip on the rings and then you push your body up until your hands and rings are at waist height.
Eventually, students work up to more advanced moves such as skin the cat, where you start with a dead hang and raise your legs up to a 90-degree angle. You then lift your hips to bring them over your head. “This really gets your shoulders flexible,” he says.
On the pommel horse, he suspends his body in the air and does loops with his legs. “It’s kind of like walking around on your hands,” he says.
Mr. Vaughn says he was at first intimidated by the stall bars, which look like a wide ladder against the wall. Gymnasts hang from various rungs and perform exercises such as leg lifts and use the bars for stretching. “It was a humbling experience,” he says. “But it’s an incredible core workout.”
On weekends, Mr. Vaughn often does a series of classes, sometimes starting with a handstand strength class, then a gymnastics level 2 class and ending with a flexibility session. When he can’t make a class or needs to relieve stress, he practices moves on the apparatus in his apartment, where he lives alone.
“Hanging from the rings is a great stress burner,” he says. “If I can’t think clearly, I might go do a handstand on my pirouette bars,” referring to a piece of equipment that looks like a low set of parallel bars.
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Mind and Body in Motion
Huffington Post | April 17, 2014
Putting the Gym in Gymnastics: A New Fitness Trend
By Tyler Curry
You may not have heard of it yet, but a new fitness trend has recently emerged that threatens to steal the thunder of other popular phenomenon that have you throwing around weights and throwing out your back. Instead of encouraging cult-like mentalities among the competitive elite, this brand of exercise promotes the type of environment that will have everyone feeling strong, no matter where they are in their fitness journey.
Awaken Fitness is located in Denver and is one of the first of its kind. This hybrid style of exercise focuses on the use of body weight, balance and functional movement by combining yoga practices and traditional gymnastics techniques. The use of functional play has been increasing in popularity in gyms across the globe for a while now, but Awaken takes this method of fitness one giant step further. Instead of just infusing this type of exercise into your normal routine, members of Awaken are privy to a slew of classes including acrobatic yoga, gymnastics training classes, and muscle rehab sessions.
The gym runs on a 28-day cycle, so members of this gym never get bored with the same routine and are continually challenged to push their physical and mental abilities.
Orench Lagman, the founder of Awaken, sees this new style of training as a way of incorporating mobile play, strength training, and healing motions as a holistic approach to fitness.
On a recent trip to Denver, I was able to experience gymnastics-inspired fitness firsthand. I am a former gymnast, but years of heavy weight training and severe neglect of stretching has left my body with more than a few wears and tears. Several other fitness trends (cough, CrossFit, cough) were fun for a while and were great for my short-term body-image goals. However, they left me with several minor injuries that now have me seeing a chiropractor once a week and doing less in the gym than I did before I started. Now in my 30s, I have been looking for new ways to stay in shape that also provided a restorative element to my joints and muscles.
After talking to Lagman about his philosophy of Awaken, I was excited to find a place that incorporated restorative movements into strength training and was ready to see just how rusty my gymnastics skills were.
From the extensive stretching to the sweat-drenched handstand planks, this was as challenging as some of the weight classes I had taken without leaving me feeling like I had been beaten with a crowbar. The movements tested my balance and exhausted my muscles, but my joints felt stronger as well. Working with my partner, we laughed in between bouts of various handstand poses and helped each other with the skills that were more troublesome. And even though I had felt like I achieved a sufficient workout at Awaken, it came without the agony and clock-watching duress that I was used to in the gym.
There are some workouts that are kind of fun in the "fitness-high" sense, and then there is actually having fun that just so happens to be exercise. This usually comes in the form of a kayak on the beach or some recreational sports activity, but Awaken manages to achieve this feet all within a gym setting, taking the dread out of going to the gym.
The only downside to Awaken Fitness is that there isn't one where I live. But if you happen to be a resident of Denver or you are traveling to the mile-high city anytime soon, make sure you do not miss this great opportunity to try out just what gymnastics inspired fitness is all about.
303 MAGAZINE | March 21, 2014
LEARNIN' TO FLY: ACROYOGA
By George Peele
Acroyoga isn’t as soccer-mom-popular as yoga. Tsuji-Hoening is a phenomenal instructor but she teaches mostly in Boulder and I live in Denver. I was referred to the only place in Denver where regular classes are offered, Awaken Gymnastics. Jen Cameron, who counts Tsuji-Hoening as one of her primary mentors, is Awaken’s resident acroyogi. In other words, I was in good hands–literally.
YellowScene MAGAZINE | Feb 24, 2014
By Reilly Capps
"Adult gymnastics is flat-out fun, and one more example of the ways in which the Front Range—once home to grizzled ranchers, farmers, and oilmen—is coming to resemble Adult Day Camp. “People are looking for new ways to get in shape,” says Orench Lagman, owner of Awaken. He lists the benefits of this new fitness regimen: strength, resilience, flexibility and confidence.
Derrek Massanari, 38, credits the studio’s reverse flys and ring work with helping him recover after he was hit by a Toyota on his road bike. (His teacher, Crystal Hatch, believes that the flexibility he learned in gymnastics actually made the accident less damaging.) A study in the Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions found that women who participate in gymnastics have stronger bones later in life. Lagman reports that a 70-year-old man he teaches can do an inversion on the rings, and a 62-year-old woman can do a two-minute handstand. Due to its emphasis on posture, Lagman even says that gymnastics “makes you taller,” which sounds like an odd claim to make for a sport dominated by women who are basically — and I mean this respectfully — sparkly midgets."
OUTFRONT MAGAZINE | Dec 18, 2012
AWAKEN GYMNASTICS IN DENVER RAISES THE BAR ON ADULT FITNESS
By Noelle Leavitt Riley
Orench Lagman, owner and personal trainer at Awaken Denver. Most people who think of gymnastics see it as an Olympic sport or as an activity for kids, but it's become a new fitness fad for adults who strive to improve their mental and physical health.
“So many adult gym classes have been popping up all over the nation, because there’s just this fascination about the sport,” said Shannon Miller, a two-time gymnastic gold medalist in the 1996 Olympics, who now resides in Jacksonville, Florida.
The agility of the sport and how it can reshape fitness routines has added a new level of attraction to fitness gurus, giving local adult gymnastic instructor Orench Lagman the opportunity to reshape lives.
Lagman owns Awaken Adult Gymnastics located at 777 Santa Fe Drive. Awaken Denver offers a variety of fitness programs, including gymnastics yoga, AcroYoga and Barre.
“It coincides with the yoga community,” said Lagman, who has operated Awaken for over three years. “It blends really well because yogis understand flexibility and balance.”
One of his clients, Oz Osborn, 50, started taking gymnastics from Lagman nine months ago.
“For me, a lot of it has to do with age, and being an engineer and spending a lot of my time sitting at a computer, which resulted in some pretty significant physical imbalances,” Osborn said. “The first time I did my first gymnastic class, I found another home.”
Osborn started yoga two years ago, which helped him regain balance from his office job, but it wasn’t until he started gymnastics that he started to become a much better yogi.
“I found that, for example, I could get into yoga stretches much further,” he said. “I love the yoga, I love the gymnastics, I love the synergistic combination of the two.”
One of the benefits of gymnastics that differs from other fitness routines, is that many of the positions invert the body, adding a completely different level of wellness and awareness.