Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Canyon Ranch: Day 3

I slept fitfully, owing to massive gas. Here at Canyon Ranch, I’ve been eating tons of salad, cruciferous vegetables, beans, and other gastastic foods, and it’s starting to catch up with me. I woke up exhausted from farting all night.

M, on the other hand, woke up ready to jump right into another day of heavy-duty workouts. After a quick breakfast (of muesli, fruit, egg white veggie omelet, and huevos rancheros -- washed down with OJ and a blueberry-cherry smoothie), we got started.

Our day in excruciating detail, after the jump.

9 a.m. – LIFT, SHIFT, SHAKE: “The Bosu Ballast Ball (a weighted stability ball) workout can enhance your total fitness program by integrating balance training into aerobic and strength exercises, as well as stretching.”

Not much stretching was done in this class today. Instead, the three of us (M, me, and one other student) launched right into a series of killer cardio and strength moves using the Bosu Ballast Ball. We marched through a bunch of compound exercises in which we alternately shook, raised, threw and slammed the heavy ball while doing lunges, squats, push-ups, jumps and core moves. It was cathartic, to heave the ball down the length of the gym – though we’d then have to sprint after the ball and do walking lunges (while lifting and shaking the weighted ball) all the way back. Over the course of an hour, our legs and arms were reduced to jelly.

We finished with a move that I first tried yesterday during Core 24, and really enjoyed: Start in a plank position, with the Ballast Ball right next to you. Do a push-up, and then lift the arm and leg furthest from the ball and flip your back onto the ball, continuing to roll across the top of the ball until you’re in a plank position on the other side of the ball. Do another push-up, and roll back over the top of the ball again. Repeat.
This class definitely wasn’t for the faint of heart, but we managed to get through it without collapsing.

10 a.m. – BARS, BALLS & BUNGEES: “High-intensity cardio, strength and endurance workout using the CorePole, body bar and medicine ball. Designed for those without injury or limitation.”

M decided to go to a stretching class, so I did this class with just one other student. Although I’d taken this class on Monday, today’s session was led by two new instructors, who put us through different exercises. Instead of running obstacle courses, we spent a lot of time doing medicine ball moves, including a variation on the Mason twist that I’m really digging:

Do a Mason twist while holding a medicine ball, but instead of just tapping the ball on either side of you, keep your legs in the air and start passing the ball from hand to hand between your scissoring legs, Harlem Globetrotter style.

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

While I stretched with a bunch of middle-aged ladies who I’ve not yet encountered in any of our exercise classes, M took a more hardcore route (again) by taking the Aerobic Jam class – a “high-energy aerobic class combining high/low impact choreography.” She later said that the choreography was difficult to follow, but she "could have done the squats and steps and jumping jacks all day long." Meanwhile, I was laying on the carpeted floor of a dark studio, tugging on my toes and taking long, easy, deep breaths.

Noon – LUNCH

We were in the mood for burgers, so we visited the Double U Café for a nice, big beef burger and a salmon burger, and polished everything off with some ice cream and chocolate chip cookies.

2 p.m. – POSTURE & BALANCE: “Challenge your balance using various equipment and learn take-home exercises.”

Feeling lazy and tired, I spent the hour with the same ladies from Stretch class, learning to stand up straight and balance on wobbly balance boards and foam half-rollers.

In contrast, M kicked it into high gear (yes, again) by taking Boxer’s Workout – punching and jabbing heavy bags and doing crazy-intense cardio. She – along with Jason Patric – probably hold the record on the most number of advanced exercise classes taken this week at the ranch.

She’s developing quite the reputation here as the girl who’s taking all the hard classes while wearing Vibram FiveFingers even during intense plyometric routines. The trainers are all impressed, and everyone’s stopping her to ask about the FiveFingers. It’s odd that no one here appears to have seen them on the ranch before, but at least one trainer has – after hearing us both proselytize about their benefits – told us that they’re going to get a pair as soon as they can. One instructor (who M thinks looks like Adam Samberg pretending to be Ralph Macchio’s character from “The Karate Kid”) told us that he’s ready to get a pair of FiveFingers so that he can be “the only one at Canyon Ranch ROCKING those kicks!”

3 p.m. – YAMUNA BODY ROLLING: “Elongate muscles and improve alignment.”

We targeted our tendons, bones and muscles with little rubber balls. It was super-therapeutic -- so much so that I almost fell asleep.

4 p.m. – REST

We had planned on doing an hour of indoor cycling, but I was ready to crash. M and I came back to our room, and while she did some holiday shopping online, I passed out on the bed.

5:30 p.m. – DINNER

The Double U Café was promoting a special Mexican fiesta night, so we showed up for tortilla soup, chicken avocado quesadillas, fish tacos, and flan.

8:00 p.m. - WATSU: "Float comfortably in a pool of warm water while a therapist uses massage techniques to soften muscles, stretch tissues and open energy pathways. As your body dances and sways through the water, it reaches a state of relaxation so deep that the mind can follow. From this space, a freedom of awareness encourages and allows healing to occur. Watsu is exceptionally effective in addressing stress, chronic back pain, orthopedic limitations, arthritis, sleep disorders, fibromyalgia, range of motion issues and therapies involving emotional release. This is a profound, holistic body experience unlike any other."

This underwater massage sounds incredibly hippie-dippy, which is not surprising given that Canyon Ranch has a clairvoyant and Tarot reader on staff. But we did Watsu the last time we were here, and we both enjoyed it immensely. Tonight was no different. Although I typically prefer deep tissue massage -- and Watsu massage is very light -- the experience was super-relaxing. 

Watsu is performed in one of three warm, 96-degree indoor pools in a domed, darkened room. After wading in and putting on some floaties around our knees, M and I just closed our eyes and went completely limp. The two massage therapists took over from there, cradling our heads and bodies and moving us through the water, gently stretching our limbs and backs, being careful to keep our noses above the water line. At various points, they moved M and I close together so that our hands or cheeks touched, but mostly, they focused on softly massaging our backs, necks, legs and arms. With our eyes shut and our ears underwater, our minds went blank; the feeling of weightlessness and the flow of the water against our skin relaxed me completely.

Tomorrow: Another day of fucking crazy exercise classes, followed by an evening spa treatment. As M put it: "BEST. VACATION. EVER."