Canyon Ranch always seems to make big lists. So why did it take me so long to go? I must be excited about the possibilities that my first full day here will bring because I wake up at first light. A glance at the bedside clock reveals it’s 4:52 am. For an hour, I try to fall back asleep but the drowsiness evades me. I consult my Canyon Ranch schedule and see that there is a morning walk at 7:00 am and that’s how I start my day.
After a brief outdoor stretch, three guides lead a group of 15 or so guests on an invigorating walk (and by invigorating I mean my short legs can barely keep up with the fastest walkers) through the nearby town of Lenox. But it’s all good because the guides offer plenty of options for all fitness levels. You can walk at your own pace for 30 or 45 minutes and one of the guides will always be nearby. When the brisk walk ends we stretch again in front of the mansion and finish just before 8am.
I’ve earned breakfast and fuel up on Banana Bread French Toast and help myself to the breakfast bar where here are beautiful fruit salads, low fat/low sugar yogurts and whole grain cereals and muffins. I’m definitely not going to lose weight on this trip but I’m hoping the extensive activities will offset some of the caloric intake from this amazing food. Every dish is portion and calorie controlled but I can’t help try everything and I suspect it’s going to do a number on my waste line.
At 9:15, I meet up with a team of Outdoor Sports guides for a hike/canoe trip. We’ll be gone about three hours – back in time for lunch – and the guides give us a briefing about what we can expect as we head off to the van that will shuttle us to the boat launch and trail head. Our group of 8 is split in two and half of us hike while the other half paddles the canoes. We met in the middle and switched, but not before a bag of signature Canyon Ranch snacks is passed around. It is nearly impossible that the Black Forest Brownie is healthy but a glance at the recipe on the Canyon Ranch website proves otherwise. With healthier substitutions like egg whites and applesauce subbing in for whole eggs and some of the fat, these portion controlled treats aren’t all that bad at a respectable 130 calories. Now if I could stop at one……. The Canyon Ranch Granola is pretty popular too and I couldn’t figure out how it was sweetened. It turns out they use fruit juice concentrate in place of some of the higher calorie sweeteners like maple syrup and honey. I love this place!
The excursion is fantastic offering just the right level of challenge and elevation change on the two mile hike and just enough beautiful scenery to keep paddling till the end of the two mile canoe trek. Once again I’m impressed with the skills and knowledge of our guides and I feel safe with them as we hike a portion of the famed Appalachian Trail.
Our group arrives back at The Ranch a little earlier than expected and I duck into the Lunch & Learn cooking demonstration just in time. Chef Dan leads us through the proper technique for cooking duck breast. We learn how using ingredients like tamari and fish sauce can add flavor and ethnicity to foods without adding fat and calories. The chef suggests filling a spray bottle with canola oil for a portion controlled (1/4 teaspoon) spritz when sautéing. Once again, the cooking demo is one of the highlights of the day. I’m walking away with simple and practical tips I can use to make healthier and more nutritious meals at home. I’m learning to use new and interesting ingredients to get me out of my rut of preparing the same foods in the same manner all the time.
After a brief rest and shower in my well-equipped and comfortable guest room, I emerge recharged and ready for the afternoon. I take a challenging TRX Strength class using the suspension trainers that will no doubt leave me sore tomorrow and begging for a deep tissue massage. Fortunately I’m in the right place. I swing by the salon on my way back from class and ask if they have any immediate openings for a Foot Rescue! Pedicure and they do. The staff at canyon Ranch are genius at indulging guests’ every request. Never once do I hear any guest told “no”.
At dinner I pile my plate high with more crisp, fresh veggies from the salad bar. My intake of dairy and animal proteins is way down for the past two days and I don’t even miss it. I love eating seeds, nuts and an abundance of fruits and veggies lightly dressed and minimally prepared. I could really get used to eating this way.
The breadth and depth of programming at Canyon ranch impresses me. Fencing? They’ve got it. Cooking lessons? That too. Lectures on skin care, healthy feet and weight loss? Yes. Every current trend in exercise and movement is represented in the offerings from Reebok Step to yoga and Pilates, from outdoor sports like biking and kayaking to water aerobics, Canyon Ranch has you covered.
After dinner I resist the urge to attend another class or lecture and I grab my favorite travel magazine and wander out to the picturesque courtyard to read and journal for a bit. The summer air is warm and breezy, the birds are chirping and there are chipmunks scurrying around me. As the sun sets, I cap off my day with a trip to the spa for a sauna, steam and dip in the whirlpool. It is quite possibly the perfect day.
Looking forward to Day 3: High intensity fitness classes, a lunch & learn cooking demonstration, an afternoon guided bike ride and some more spectacularly delicious and healthy food.
As is common in the travel industry, Canyon Ranch Lenox provided the writer with two complimentary nights and one night at a discounted media rate. A stay at Canyon Ranch includes a spa/activity service credit, all meals and snacks, complimentary fitness classes and wellness programing.