Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Canyon Ranch: Day 2

Our second day at Canyon Ranch got off to a late start. We had planned to get up early to down some chow and let it digest a little before diving into another day of hardcore exercising. Instead, due to our exhaustion from yesterday, we didn’t crawl out of bed until 7:40 a.m. – less than an hour before our scheduled “Serious Cycle” class. Once we were up, though, we moved quickly, and slammed down breakfast at the Double U CafĂ© (Canyon Ranch’s casual restaurant): a veggie omelet, some muesli, yogurt and granola, and fruit. Then it was off to the gym.

Lots more after the jump...

8:30 a.m. – SERIOUS CYCLE: “60 minutes of high-intensity cycling and 15 minutes of stretching.”
The description says it all; the small handful of us in the class did some crazy cycling, led by a peppy instructor who somehow managed to speak throughout the anaerobic portions of the workout. I’m not much of a cycler, but thanks to P90X and Insanity, my cardio fitness level is pretty decent, and I made it through this session without feeling like dying.

M and I noticed that one big, buff guy in a muscle shirt only lasted 20 minutes on the bike. I bet he could outbench me by 150 pounds, but something tells me that cardio’s not a priority for him.

10 a.m. – CORE 24: “Challenge your ability to stabilize outside your normal base of support. Twenty-four core exercises on a variety of equipment build mobility, strength and stability.”

This was surprisingly intense, particularly since my quads still felt like jelly from cycling for an hour. The moves came fast and furious: We started with a bunch of lunges, squats and push-ups on a Bosu Balance Trainer, and then started doing more leg work (and ab exercises) on a foam half-roller. Next, we pulled out some Gliders – little purple discs that slide along the hardwood gym floor – and used them to do Super Skaters, lunges and Push-Up Flies. Lastly, we did strength and core moves using a Ballast Ball weighted with sand. the pacing was quick; our instructor never paused for breaks between exercises. By the time we were done, I was ready to collapse.

11 a.m. – STRETCH: “Improve total body flexibility.”

Only four of us attended this class – M, me, and two people we’d not seen in our classes before. Although there are probably well over a hundred people staying here right now, there are only a few familiar faces (less than a dozen) who routinely show up to the more challenging exercise classes. It’s a little puzzling to us what everyone else at Canyon Ranch is doing. Are they just getting spa treatments and going to lectures? Are they all here just for the Life Enhancement Program? I’m still scratching my head.

Noon – LUNCH

M had chicken noodle soup and a veal bacon, mozzarella, tomato and arugula sandwich; I downed some gazpacho and a Cobb salad (which was stingily topped with approximately one-sixteenth of an avocado and a teaspoon of bacon). We were starving, so we also visited the salad bar and polished off our meal with ice cream and cookies. I'm still not sure if the food is as good as I believe it is, or if I'm just too hungry to be picky.

1 p.m. – I sat around in our room and did jack shit. M, on the other hand, attended a lecture entitled “WAKE-UP CALL: SLEEP FOR GOOD HEALTH.” M gave it rave reviews, but I was afraid if I’d attended a talk about sleep, I’d have passed out.

2 p.m. – POWER PUMP: “Intermediate/advanced strength training using the concept of superset training. Superset training is a quick and effective way to achieve a total body workout. With a combination of free weights, you will learn how to perform one exercise immediately followed by another without rest, and then rest before repeating the two movements.”

I’m not sure our two instructors read the course description, because I don’t recall ever resting between the ten different resistance exercises we performed. (When I say “we,” I mean me and one other guy -- only two of us showed up for the class.) Still, the instructors were friendly and chatty, and at heart, I'm a big fan of free weights, so I didn’t mind cranking out the moves one after another. We did two sets of each exercise; each set lasted for one minute or until we hit exhaustion – whichever came first. (And exhaustion usually came first.) Because we didn’t take breaks, and also because the two of us didn't need much instruction, we were done in a half hour.

The toughest moves in Power Pump: Chest presses (using the pulley machine) performed while standing on a Bosu Balance Trainer, and deep squats performed while on a teetering balance board. I clearly need to work on my balance.

3 p.m. – INTERMEDIATE YOGA: “Build on foundation postures and move into more challenging ones, including arm balances, inversions and other intermediate level postures.”

Here’s the thing: After doing Yoga X for a while, I managed to get through this workout okay, though I had a difficult time trying to pull off the headstands and deep back bends. The most challenging part was trying to figure out how to phrase my answer when the instructor asked each of the four of us in class what type of yoga we were studying. “Uh, the kind that Tony Horton does in the P90X DVD set?” didn’t seem like the appropriate response.

By the way, while I was trying to pass myself off as a seasoned yogi, M spent the hour in "Boot Camp," running obstacle courses and doing plyometric moves. Didn't I tell you she's hardcore?

4 p.m. – STRETCH & RELAXATION: “Promotes flexibility, breathing and relaxation.”

We had a different instructor from yesterday, and as a result, so the moves were all new. We spent a lot more time stretching and less time relaxing, but it felt good nonetheless – especially after an exhausting day.

5 p.m. – REJUVENATING WATERS (WATER & STEAM MASSAGE):  “In native traditions, the sweat lodge is a place of cleansing and healing for tribal members. When the effects of the sweat lodge are combined with bodywork, it produces a profound response. Your journey begins in our hydrotherapy tub as you are massaged with warm water jets from head to toe. Then, in a steam-filled room, your already-warm, relaxed body is massaged again using hot and cold towels and smooth stones. This treatment is tailored to your needs.”

My massage therapist, Kevin, is also the originator of this particular treatment, and the chattiest guy I’ve met here. It was a little weird to strip naked and have a 50-ish hippie martial artist dressed in a wetsuit massage me in a super-hot Jacuzzi tub, but at least his constant patter (about Native American traditions, jazz, celebrity clients, kung fu styles, etc.) made me forget about the fact that this was the first time in my life a guy was squeezing my ass in a hot tub.

After 50 minutes of this (by which time I’d turned into a pasty, pink prune), I plopped on a massage table in a steam room for an hour-long massage. And instead of just using “hot and cold towels and smooth stones,” Kevin relied heavily on his feet and arms as massage tools. It was a great deep tissue treatment, and my back felt great afterwards, but I'm still lightheaded and a little queasy from the heat and steam.

7 p.m. – DINNER

M and I scarfed down some tuna carpaccio, salad, chicken with mushrooms, and lamb chops, and ended our meal with more ice cream.

That’s it for now – too exhausted to write any more. More tomorrow…