Active Travel, Going Solo, Lodging

Canyon Ranch Lessons: Body


The entrance to the fitness complex at Canyon Ranch, Lenox.

Over the course of my five day stay at Canyon Ranch, I took over twenty fitness classes.  That’s more fitness classes than I’ve taken in five days, ever.  That’s more fitness classes than I’ve taken in five weeks, ever.  And it is 100% more fitness classes than I took in the year prior–meaning: I haven’t taken a single fitness class in the last year.  Not one.

So taking twenty over the course of five days was a fabulous plan.

During my Canyon Ranch stay, I also attended a variety of health-focused talks and lectures, as well as one very entertaining and informative demonstration meal.  Not to mention all that I learned through observation (and taste) at mealtimes (healthy food can taste great–just sometimes it is really, really small…)


I didn’t take many food photos at Canyon Ranch. But this was my favorite meal–salmon over a whole grain orzo ‘risotto’ served with wilted kale. Tasty and healthy.

I don’t weight myself, so I can’t tell you exactly how much actual weight I lost, but I’m thinking it had to be ‘some’, as my pants were big when I left and I know they didn’t magically grow.  Well, I hope they didn’t, anyway.  But I learned more than I lost in these classes.

For example, I learned:

–a fabulous take-on-the-road workout using TRX bands.  I have already ordered my own TRX bands.

–the magic that is celery root (did you know it takes the bitterness out of root veggies and can be a substitute for dairy?)

–that the ability to balance begins to decrease at around age 23.  This was both expressly taught as well as experienced first hand.

–that sunlight is good for your mood in two ways, and that you should both absorb it through your skin as well as your eyes.

–when most people are on electronic devices (such as my beloved iPhone) their breathing patterns are different than when they are not.

–nori–a form of dried seaweed–is a great replacement for salt.  It is especially good on hard boiled eggs.

But I also learned some more painful lessons.  For example–I’m far, far more out of shape than I once was.  In my early 20s, I did yoga like it was my job–that is, frequently and regularly.  I didn’t even realize that I was flexible or strong.  I simply did the things the instructor told me to do (and occasionally marveled at the people who just couldn’t do some of the positions).  Well, guess what?  I’m 33 now, and I haven’t been in a regular yoga class in almost a decade.  My brain remembers the positions, but my body does not cooperate.

I also came to realize that I approach fitness the same way I approach most things in my life–when it gets hard, I start to cut corners.  Plank position (think the beginning part of a pushup) hurts my arms.  A lot.  So I ‘modify’ it by putting my knees down.  Am I ever going to get stronger this way?  No.

A yoga instructor said something during one of my first (of many) Canyon Ranch yoga classes–he said ‘don’t practice anything you don’t want to cultivate’.  Again, it is the simple that is the most profound.  If you look at the things you do over and over again, are they the things you want to be doing?  I hope they are.  Personally, I’m at about a half and half situation..  I’ve posted on The Suitcase Scholar at least twice weekly for the past two years (and before that, sporadically for two additional years).  I’ve practiced blogging and become good at it.  I travel all the damn time.  I’m really good at traveling.  And after more than ten years of attempting to feed myself, I’ve become a pretty amazing home cook.  I wanted to write, I wanted to travel, I wanted to eat (and feed others); I practiced those things and became good at them.  I am glad.

This is what happy hour looks like at Canyon Ranch--a non alcoholic bar spread.

This is what happy hour looks like at Canyon Ranch–a non alcoholic bar spread.

But I also drink a lot.  I’ve apparently been practicing to become a wino–and hey look, I’m a wino!  I also sit far more than I should.  Yes, I’m working.  But at least half of the time, yes, I could get up for 45 minutes and go for a run.  I used to work at being a runner; I now work at being a sitter.  That’s just as bad as the wine that’s currently sitting to the right of my right hand.

I know that if I want to feel better–and look better (and hey, don’t we all want to look better?)–I need to start really paying attention to the things I’m practicing and decide if those are things I want to cultivate.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go for a run.  And then perhaps mash up some celery root.  And have a nice glass of Saratoga Sparkling water–with several limes.

If you haven’t checked out my introductory Canyon Ranch post, click HERE.  To learn more about this three part series, check out the three part series intro post HERE.  If you’d like to read part one in the Mind, Body, Spirit series–Canyon Ranch Lessons: Mind–click HERE.  And stay tuned for post three, Canyon Ranch Lessons: Spirit, coming next Monday.

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