Originally from Miami, FL, Jen Metcalfe traded sun for snow and slopes in Aspen, CO, in 2008. There, in 2019, she opened Higher Terrain, a unique studio that offers both classical Pilates on a Reformer, as well as the Lagree Method on the Megaformer™, catering to Pilates-enthusiasts of all styles.
Also a physical therapist, Metcalfe first took a position at a sports medicine clinic in the area before opening her own space. Now, the former Equestrian, gymnastics, and track-and-field athlete helps clients challenge and enjoy themselves at all levels, always focusing on form, alignment and strength. Read on to hear more about her love of all types and iterations of Pilates, owning such a unique fitness business and more.
SBS: What was your professional path like?
Jen Metcalfe: I worked as a personal trainer while attending Florida International University in Miami, while I was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology. The gym that I worked at (David Barton), exposed me to Pilates, and I was totally hooked. I immediately became certified with Kevin Bowen. I returned to college to receive my Masters degree in physical therapy, and I practiced as a physical therapist in Miami, as well as in Aspen. My specialty as a PT was sports medicine, and I had the pleasure of being able to work with professional athletes, as well as fitness enthusiasts.
SBS: What’s the style and approach of Higher Terrain?
JM: I opened Higher Terrain in 2019 to offer Aspen's sports enthusiasts a way to stay fit and injury-free. All of our classes are small, form-focused, and low impact. All Higher Terrain instructors are certified in Pilates, as well as Lagree instructors, making alignment and form key, whether students are on a Megaformer™ in our Lagree studio, or on a Pilates Reformer in our Pilates studio.
SBS: How is Higher Terrain different/similar to other Lagree studios?
JM: Higher Terrain is a licensed Lagree studio: I received my Lagree training at Sebastian Lagree's headquarter in LA. We are very true to that method, performed only the Megaformer™. We also offer classic Pilates, making us a dual Lagree/Pilates studio. We have a class to fit any fitness level! We offer Lagree, and Pilates group classes, but also private sessions for those looking to really perfect their form. Clients can also have a program customized for themselves.
SBS: How would you describe your specific type of coaching? How is it different from other coaches?
JM: As a physical therapist, my focus as a coach is always on form and perfect alignment. Any exercise can be turned up or down, depending on the student, who should expect to be pushed to work at their own level, which may be more than they thought!
SBS: What are a few misconceptions people have about the Lagree method?
JM: Many people think Lagree and Pilates are the same thing. I think it's important to educate our fitness population that Lagree and Pilates are two different methods. Both are great, but they are different, created by different people, and performed on different machines. Another misconception is that Lagree is too intense for someone. Yes, it's a tough workout. However, the design of the Megaformer™ that Sebastian Lagree constructed allows the workout to be both intense, and very low impact. Anyone can do it.
SBS: What do you bring from your background as a PT to Higher Terrain? How does that become diffused throughout the company?
JM: The methods I offer at Higher Terrain focus on core strength, muscular endurance, as well as posture and flexibility. All of these elements factor in when people participate in all the outdoor sports we have available here in Aspen.
SBS: What was it like opening a studio, and what are your tips to other new business owners?
JM: I opened Higher Terrain a year before the pandemic, which was tough for any fitness studio, especially a new one. I'm so thankful for having built an amazing clientele, along with our instructors, who helped us get through it!
SBS: What's your own health and wellness routine?
JM: Aside from Pilates and Lagree, I love to get outside. I run and hike in the summers here. During the winters, you'll find me skating, skiing or skinning up one of our mountains!
The best, zaniest part of being Jen: I may break out singing if an old school hip hop song comes on the radio.
Jen’s SBS Mantra: Be Happy. I believe that the mind is the most powerful tool in health and wellness. Our studio logo is Strong Body, Strong Mind!
Jen’s Aspen Faves:
Healthy Restaurant: Spring Cafe
Splurge Restaurant: Matsuhisa
Yoga Studio: 02 Aspen
Fitness Studio: Aspen Shakti
Fun Activity: Running up toward Independence Pass
Calming Activity: Reading
Online Resources: The New York Post