Hi friends, and happy day 1 of the Winter Shape Up! I hope you’re all having fun so far with the workouts and enjoying the meal plan. 🙂 Keep up the great work!
As you guys already know from my Instagram feed, I spent the weekend on a press trip at Canyon Ranch’s New England location in Lenox, Massachusetts.
As a disclaimer, while I paid for my own travel, Canyon Ranch generously covered my expenses once on site. A huge thank you to them for having me!
If you haven’t heard of it, Canyon Ranch is a health resort with two main locations – Arizona and Massachusetts. For those who love healthy food and fitness adventures, this place is basically heaven – I felt so lucky to be there. Canyon Ranch in Lenox, where I was, is in the heart of the wooded Berkshires. The century-old Bellefontaine mansion is its architectural centerpiece – it was beautiful in the snow.
Canyon Ranch is all inclusive, so once you are on site you have your pick from a plethora of healthy food and fitness classes/excursions and health-related presentations galore. You also get a spa allowance for services included in your room rate (it increases based on the number of nights you are there). There was so much to do – I could have spent a month there and not tried everything!
Oh, the food. It was amazing – fresh and healthy, delicious and well balanced. If only I could have the Canyon Ranch café in my house!
Each morning, I got a green smoothie from their snack and coffee bar – and then perused the breakfast options, usually sampling a variety of things.
My favorite was the butternut squash egg sandwich with goat cheese – egg and goat cheese together is never a bad idea. Delicious!
I also sampled the steel cut oatmeal, which was good, but I think it would have been even better made with milk or almond milk instead of water to make it creamier. 🙂
They also made a mean cappuccino – and great pumpkin bread! Love that they share a bunch of the recipes online – here’s the pumpkin nut bread recipe.
For lunch, I ate twice in the café, and once in the dining room. Both had a big salad bar as well as menus that you could order as much as you liked off of. One day I had a really good minestrone soup, some salad bar finds, and a chicken pesto mozzarella open faced sandwich.
Another day I had a salad bar creation with the grass fed beef burger. Delish as well!
On my last day, I ate in the dining room for lunch. By this time I had discovered that you could order half portions of things to try a variety. I took advantage. 🙂 I was ravenous, so I started both with a small salad bar plate and with the special appetizer salad – arugula with goat cheese and oranges. YUM!
Then I got three mini half portion meals – the portions were small to begin with, so this was just about right. I didn’t eat the side salads, just the main events, since I had already had so much salad! Tuna melt + lobster and apple roll + veggie burger. All of it was amazing!
One of the most awesome things about the café was that they had an all day snack bar with all sorts of healthy options.
I loved the orange mango kale smoothie, as well as the almond butter or hummus with crackers and veggies.
I also loved the trail mix – especially the almond chocolate chip one and the grain-free pumpkin spice granola (<—recipe).
The first night I was at Canyon Ranch, the whole group of us enjoyed a wonderful multiple course tasting menu from the café chef, Kyle Nottingham – who also happens to be my friend Gina’s brother!
The meal was amazing – the portions were perfect in that we finished satisfied, not stuffed – most were just a bite or two. Kyle told us about each of the dishes before we enjoyed them, sharing how Canyon Ranch works to source local and seasonal food as often as possible.
My photos don’t really do the meal justice, since it was really dark in the café, but everything was wonderful.
The other big highlight of that meal was the company! My good blogger buddies Gina and Tina were also on the trip, and I enjoyed the meal with the two of them and a wonderful woman named Meredith who works for Canyon Ranch. The four of us had a great time!
The other dinner of the trip was enjoyed with Tina and Gina in the dining room. As before, I started with a little plate of goodies from the salad bar, plus a butternut squash and goat cheese empanada (as good as it sounds). For my entrée, I had the fish of the day in a gingery Asian sauce (delicious) with brown rice and green beans/mushrooms. Loved it!
For dessert, the three of us shared some coconut macaroons and chocolate chip cookies! We asked for the gluten free chocolate chip cookies because we heard they were amazing, but they brought the regular ones first by accident (under the macaroons). No problem – we’ll do a cookie-off! The flavor was actually pretty much the same, but the gluten free cookies (on the right) inched out the regular ones because they were more chewy/cookie dough-ish. Both were delicious though! Here’s the gluten free chocolate chip cookies recipe. And the recipe for the coconut macaroons – also amazing!
One of the things I really loved about Canyon Ranch is that in addition to fitness classes, there are also outdoor excursions (in the winter, winter sports + snowy hikes; in the summer, all sorts of water activities) offered throughout the day. On day 1, I choose to explore the premises on my own – it was lovely and sunny out, though a little icy. There was a nice network of about 2 miles of trails on the property that you could easily navigate without getting lost.
On Saturday morning, our press group was invited on a guided hike – it was originally going to be off the property, but lots of snow kept us on the property instead. It was still beautiful, though!
I stuck with a smaller group that stayed out for about an hour and a half – it was so beautiful and peaceful out there! I loved it. You guys know the great outdoors is my happy place. 🙂
My favorite hike of the trip, though, was probably the one I did on Sunday morning before heading out! I signed up to join a group leaving the property at 9:15 for a hike up Flag Rock, about 20 minutes away.
They strapped some YakTrax (these are so awesome – I kind of want to buy some for winter running…) on our feet, gave us poles, and we drove over to the trail! I’m so glad I packed my hiking boots – they kept my feet nice and dry in all the snow! (I own this pair of hiking boots from Merrell and absolutely love them.)
It was so beautiful hiking in the snowy woods. I hadn’t really hiked in snow before – I loved it!
By the time we reached the top, it was sunny and clear. Gorgeous views!
Fitness Classes & Spa
As for indoor fitness, I checked out a couple classes. They had SO much variety it was hard to choose, but I decided to do classes I don’t do as often at home, to mix it up – e.g. no boot camps. 🙂 I ended up trying a restorative yoga class (which was basically a glorious 45 minute nap), a “beamlates” class (pilates while lying on a beam – good balance challenge, pretty low key class), and a barre workout (burned so good).
I also spent a glorious late afternoon/early evening relaxing in the spa – bouncing between the saunas and hot tub.
Discover Your Fitness Age Test
To cap off this beast of a post, the other big highlight from the weekend: a fitness age test! When Canyon Ranch reached out to me about coming for the trip, one of the cool things they wanted to have us do was check out a new program of theirs called “Discover Your Fitness Age.” It measures your physiological age relative to your chronological age.
I had my test with the exercise physiologist on Saturday afternoon, and it was so interesting! Here’s what she tested:
- Body composition test to assess lean muscle mass
- Submaximal treadmill test to determine aerobic capacity
- Muscle strength and power testing, including upper and lower body
- Evaluation of balance
- Reaction time testing
- We started with the muscle strength/power testing and evaluation of balance. For lower body, she had me do a standing jump to determine my vertical leap. Fun!
- To test arm power, I was instructed to do as many pull ups as I could at half my body weight. I made it to 26!
- My muscular fitness age was 21 years old. Awesome!
- I also did a long jump, to test balance. I jumped 155 cm, or 96% of my height, giving me a body awareness/agility fitness age of 25. Not too shabby!
- As for body composition, I was 25% body fat, which put me in the higher end of the performance level recommendations (17% to 25%). The exercise physiologist said this gets higher when doing a lot of longer, slow training, like marathons – and goes down when you start doing more intervals/sprinting again. Interesting, and makes sense based on what I learned in grad school! The recommended range for general fitness is 20 to 30% for adult women, so I’m smack dab in the middle. 🙂
- The last thing we did was an aerobic power test. The exercise physiologist strapped a heart rate monitor on me and we headed to the treadmill!
I had fun with this one; I’ve never used a heart rate monitor really so it was fascinating to see how it changed based on what I was up to. My heart rate did a good job of recovering quickly in between hard work, and my predicted aerobic capacity (VO2 max) was 51.2, which is apparently excellent. Sweet! The exercise physiologist I worked with was also a runner, so we had fun talking running. She said that for intervals/hard track workouts involving sprints, my heart rate would likely be around 185 or greater (and then down to 150 or below to recover before starting again). For tempo runs, it will be around 175-185. For more casual, steady runs, between 160 to 175, depending on pace/distance. My aerobic fitness age was 22!
And now, here ends the longest post ever. Thank you again to Canyon Ranch for having me this weekend – clearly I loved it! 🙂