Friday, December 18, 2009

Canyon Ranch: Day 5

Hoping to squeeze in a full day of exercise classes (and shower in our room instead of in the spa) before leaving Canyon Ranch, we called the front desk first thing this morning to inquire about a late checkout. The staffer at Guest Services was more than accommodating, and arranged for us to keep our room until 4:30 p.m., when our shuttle would depart for the airport. Score!

Our day, after the jump...

7:30 a.m. - BREAKFAST

We were hungry and determined to kick ass during our final day of classes here, so we shoved the following down our throats before heading off to exercise: Strawberry, kiwi and banana smoothie, muesli, cottage cheese with fruit, egg white omelets with veggies and cheddar cheese, sprouted multi-grain toast with almond butter, orange juice, green tea.

8:30 a.m. - ABS EXPRESS: "20 minutes focusing on strengthening your abs."

There are a few trainers here that are particularly hardcore (and usually lead the most challenging workouts) -- and among them, the one who pushes everyone the hardest is Katia. I'm not sure she understands or even cares that most people can't perform the exercises that she's demonstrating. She just stares you in the eye and demands that you give it your all -- even when she's telling you to do some psychotic variation on an already next-to-impossible exercise.

And Katia happened to be assigned to lead Abs Express this morning. Ab Ripper X and Cardio Abs has nothing on Katia's abs routine. Example: Instead of just doing plain old Pulse-Ups (a.k.a. Heels to the Heavens), she had us do them in combination with In & Outs and made us corkscrew our legs -- first to the right, then to the left -- during each Pulse-Up. Her crazy-intensity is what makes Katia one of my favorite trainers at Canyon Ranch, but I'm honestly a little scared of her, too.

9 a.m. - INDOOR CYCLING: "Strength, endurance, interval or all-terrain rides."

This class is 15 minutes shorter than Serious Cycle, but otherwise, it didn't seem to have any obvious differences: Both are great cardio workouts that leave you dripping with sweat by the end of class.

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 limitations."

Katia and another of our favorite trainers, Shelly, led this class today. After a vigorous warm-up (which we didn't need, having just cycled for the better part of an hour), we alternated between a resistance band station (led by Katia) and a medicine ball/CorePole stations (led by Shelly). Both were incredibly fucking hard.

Towards the end of the hour -- after already cranking out dozens of sets of plyometric leaps, weighted lunges, chest presses, medicine ball burpees, squat jumps and the like, Katia told us to do airborne triceps push-ups. "Get down in plank position!" she yelled. "Do a military push-up with your hands and elbows against your sides! And when you push up, explode up and push your hands and feet off the ground! Go! Go! Go! Faster! Faster! Faster!"

11 a.m. - STRETCH: "Improve total body flexibility."

This felt nice.

Noon - LUNCH

We knew we needed to fuel up for an afternoon boxing workout, so for our last sit-down meal at Canyon Ranch, we devoured the following: red lentil soup, gazpacho, beet/garbanzo/cashew/mushroom salad, rice crackers, fruit, veggie burger, meatball & mozzarella sub, coconut gelato, and chocolate chip cookies.

1 p.m. - QI GONG: "An ancient art using breath to strengthen internal organs and gentle movement for calming the mind."

My dad practices qi gong daily, so I wanted to learn more about it. It was very calming -- sort of a soothing combination of zen meditation, ashtanga yoga, slow-motion martial arts and dance. Everyone in class was in a relaxed, trancelike state. And then M's cell phone -- which she'd accidentally left in her gym bag in violation of Canyon Ranch's no-cell-phone policy -- started ringing. We pretended it wasn't hers.

2 p.m. - BOXER'S WORKOUT: "Punch, jab and hook your way through this aerobic workout."

Of the five of us who showed up for this class, M and I were determined to go full-on balls out. It was, after all, the last class we'd attend before getting on a plane, so we wanted to give it our all.

Shelly led the class, and pushed us hard. In between high-intensity cardio moves (jump-rope, walking lunges, etc.), we beat the shit out of our heavy bags. Even with boxing gloves on, I managed to cut up my knuckles. It was beautiful.

After showering, changing, packing and grabbing a couple of to-go meals from the dining room (along with an armload of snacks -- nuts, pumpkin crunch, fruit bars, cheese, hummus and crackers, brownies, granola, bananas, etc.), we hopped onto the Canyon Ranch shuttle and headed to the airport.

I'm glad to be home, and to be with my kids. But that was one hell of a vacation.