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A place for the fitness faithful

Caramie Schnell
Dominique Taylor/The Vail TrailOwner Rod Connolly, right and trainers Amy Baker and Brock Fetch demonstrate the different training facilities at the new Dogma Athelitica gym in Riverwalk in Edwards.
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It’s a little ironic that the old Panda City spot in Riverwalk, where people used to shovel in fried cream cheese wontons, is now home to a state-of-the-art gym where people will be pedaling off the pounds.

Dogma Athletica, the valley’s newest personal training, coaching facility and gym, opens for business this week.

Rod Connolly, owner of the center, said the facility has been in the making, at least in his head, for about 10 years.

“In Latin (Dogma Athletica) means faith in the athletic process and it hit home for us because we’re trying to take a more thought-provoking approach to people’s fitness and wellness,” Connolly said.

The goal of the center is to train athletes at championship levels, as well as work with people whose primary focus is weight loss and fitness.

With a homemade all-organic energy bar in hand, Curt Nash, one of Dogma’s seven on-staff personal trainers, leads a tour around the facility. He pointed out some of the new, high-tech machines: a dual-motion cable cross machine, the step machine, an assisted chin/dip machine, and the row of treadmills, with the mother-of-all running machines set up in one corner. The tank-looking treadmill can go up to 25 miles per hour and can be set at up to a 35-degree incline.

“No, that speed isn’t humanly possible,” Connolly said. Not unless you’re an Olympic runner, that is. And really the machine will be most valuable for people doing rehabilitation after surgery.

“We could put it at steep incline and slow it down to one-and-a-half miles an hour – a slow climb, which is good for someone that can’t take the impact on their knees.”

Connolly, whose background is in exercise science and kinesiology, grew up in Boulder and worked at Boulder Sports Medicine. He moved to Vail 12 years ago and spent eight years as co-owner of The Other Side snowboard shop in Beaver Creek.

“This concept is something we wanted to do for a long time. Typically, for a center like this you would need a large population pool to grab from but up here everyone is so active, into skiing, snowboarding, hiking and cycling that it can work.”

The goal for customers with rehab at top-of-mind is to set up the “chain of communication from the orthopod through the PT to the trainer. We want to help them get back to where they were before and maybe to some place where they haven’t ever been.”

The center also offers detailed, customized training programs. Members who take advantage of the one-on-one coach memberships will go through a handful of assessment tests including physiological, body composition, resting metabolic rate, Max VO2 tests (which determine an athlete’s capacity to consume oxygen), lactate threshold tests and nutritional analysis. To connect the whole paint-by-number program, clients can pull up their personalized online account from home. There they’ll be able to view daily menus and shopping lists designed around their specific metabolism, as well as their weight loss and fitness goals.

Yoga-heads don’t despair – there’s a multi-disciplined yoga studio where beginner, Forrest, Power, Anusara, Vinyasa Flow and Meditation yoga is taught.

“Different disciplines resonate with different people,” Connolly said. “We’re also developing a style called Dogma yoga, which takes our favorite components from each style.”

Right now the yoga studio is inside the center but in December, Connolly said an 1,100-square-foot yoga and Pilates studio will take the space directly above Dogma Athletica.

During the summer, Connolly plans to hold yoga classes outside on the deck of the facility.

“We really want this place to become a gathering point for like-minded people,” he said.

A room off to the side from the main studio will be the group cycling studio where people can bring their own bikes, or use the gym’s to train. Projectors will screen virtual road and mountain bike races on two 72-inch screens. Similar to an interactive video game, teams can challenge each other to virtual bike races or time trials. For the very serious cyclers, specific courses can even be downloaded into the computer. The center is the largest CompuTrainer cycling studio in Colorado, as well as a talent scouting center for USA Cycling, Connolly said.

“We have the proper equipment to really do the testing and find out if someone has what it takes.”

Connolly’s wife, Michelle, has a room for her separate business, In Your Face, LLC. As a licensed esthetician, Michelle focuses on giving customized skin treatments that look at the whole person – taking into account their nutrition, stress, activity level, and current product and medication use. A flat-screen television is mounted on the ceiling so that Michelle can show client’s proper technique.

Membership will be capped at 150 people, Connolly said, and so far they’re about two-thirds of the way there.

“It’s not that we’re elitist,” he said, “it’s that to do the type of work we’re talking about, it takes a little more time and attention to each member. So in order for us to keep our product level high, that’s what we have to do.”


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