Personalities, classes bring life to La Jolla Riford Center



A place to hang your hat, a second home, a unique center with a friendly atmosphere. These are just some of the ways members have described the La Jolla Riford Center.

The Riford Center, at 6811 La Jolla Blvd., is an adult membership club geared toward adults who want to engage in enriching activities. The center provides diverse activities, from conversational French to Jazzercise sessions to bridge classes, and everything in between. The variety attracts all types of people from all over La Jolla. With a constantly changing schedule, no two days are alike at the Riford.

“The environment of the Riford is wonderful,” said Jessica Von Buelow, a Riford Center member. “So many nice people and activities, it’s like my second home.”

Von Buelow actively has attended the Riford Center’s array of activities and opportunities for 10 years. She likes to attend different classes and opportunities that are offered, and enjoys taking part in local fundraisers. “The Riford is very open and serves the community, and that’s what makes it unique.”

Yoga classes are among the more popular ones at the Riford Center. “Senior Yoga” and “Silver Age Yoga” are the two classes you can attend — if you get there quick enough.

“The classes fit in very well with my other recreational and business activities,” yoga attendee Ken Haygood said. “In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve only ever missed one class.”

And that time, he noted, he was out of town.

“There can be over 25 people who attend each class,” instructor Carolyn Boline said. “We expanded from once to twice a week recently because of the popular reception.”

In a way, the Riford has changed people’s outlooks on life.

“Because of the Riford, I’ve become more compassionate and patient with people,” yoga instructor Bob Spindler explained. “They are very, very friendly and like the yoga I teach. They are receptive to new ideas and faithful.”

New classes are being added to the ever-changing curriculum, including a culinary class to accompany the Riford’s remodeled kitchen. Stay tuned.

Intern Shanna McCue spent several days learning about the Riford Center to give readers a sense of what a day in the life of the place is like. Here’s what she saw on Jan. 26:

  • The Bible Study Group opens the doors at 8 a.m. every Tuesday. The session lasts for an hour each week.

“We have a retired Presbyterian minister as our teacher,” participant Doug Nau says. While the group has been active since 1982, the Riford has been offering this service for about five years.

  • At 9, things get hopping with “Senior Yoga,” taught by Bob Spindler. He supplies blankets for the students, who begin with breathing exercises, stretching their limbs and their cores.

“Relax your jaw as you sit,” Spindler says.
I’m sure the sound of my pencil running across the paper disrupts the serene silence. This class is a new feature for the month and is a response to the demand of more yoga after Silver Age Yoga was offered.

  • At 9:30, across the center, another new class for the month begins: “Advanced Spanish.” Sylvia Cavaiola, who teaches all Spanish classes at the center, leads the class. “Advanced Spanish” was created after those who completed “Intermediate Spanish” needed another class to advance their learning. At this point, the students are so far into learning this foreign language that they can converse easily with one another. Rarely is an English word heard in this class.
  • 10 o’clock comes, along with the “Using the Internet” class taught by Michael Marquardt. Here, those who don’t understand how computers, the Internet and other technological things go to learn more about our world in the 21st century. Today, they’re discussing the differences between e-mailing, texting and “Tweeting” and the purpose of each.

“Nobody owns the Internet,” Marquardt explains to a curious student. “There are groups that try to control what goes on in the Internet, but nobody really owns it.”
On the other side of the center at the same time, the popular “Silver Age Yoga” class is beginning. The class is full, with yoga mats sprawled across the floor. “Silver Age” gets you up and stretching, with music to keep bodies moving.

“Lengthen your body, stretch and slowly come up,” says Carolyn Boline, the teacher of the class.

  • 10:30 arrives with a conversational French room open for those who’d like to participate. Led by professor Paul Wolff, you wouldn’t even know he was the teacher. The immersion class is much less of a class than it is a casual weekly discussion, entirely in French. Not a word of English is spoken, unless welcoming a visitor in. With the conversation so fluid and clean, you wouldn’t know that more than half of the attendees don’t even speak French as their native language.

“Even the French can learn more French,” says Wolff about why this class is being held. “We discuss any subject that comes to mind — views, politics, as long as it’s all in French.”

  • At 11, the “Intermediate Spanish” class begins. To open the class, the students sing “Feliz Cumpleaños a ti,” a birthday song to one of their peers. The student then explains — in Spanish, of course — her plans for her birthday. Her peers respond excitedly.

The classes come to an end for the morning around noon. Most of the Riford is cleared out, as classes are to resume in the early afternoon. The center is, for the most part, quiet, other than the small talk and flipping of cards caused by the Bridge Club ladies. The bridge group — the reason why the Riford Center was built in the first place — meets up and plays once a week, according to the players.

  • “Spanish II” begins at 1 p.m., followed by the beginning “Spanish I” class — and the closing class of the day — at 2. Both taught by the proficient Sylvia Cavaiola, the classes practice separating correct from incorrect sentences in their textbooks.

“An-A-Ran-HA-Do,” Cavaiola says, explaining how to pronounce the color orange correctly. “Repeat after me.”
The class follows suit as the busy day at the Riford comes to an end. The final class ends early, while some stay and socialize until the doors are closed at 4 p.m.

The Riford Center attracts adult citizens from all over La Jolla with its array of different activities and courses offered. From languages to yoga to the classic bridge, one day in the Riford won’t be like the next.

For information on the center’s programs, go to or call (858) 459-0831.