Wellfit Zion Fitness Retreat, Utah

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Wellfit Zion
Photo: Courtesy of Wellfit Zion

by Lynn Burshtein

“Hi everyone, welcome to your afternoon bootcamp class,” Wellfit Zion Program Manager Cliff Tapusoa said, as the small group shuffled into the property’s graffiti-adorned fitness studio. “It’s ‘Gratituesday’ – so today, while we work out, let’s think of all the things we’re grateful for!”

Our grunting, griping and gasping aside, we knew we had a lot to be grateful for on Day 3 of the Utah-based wellness resort’s weekly program. We had already completed a guided hike of Southern Utah’s West Canyon trail – with some of the most stunning views of the red rocks imaginable – and had completed two stretch classes and one cardio session. We’d also had delicious, healthy and customized meals served throughout the day, and would be treated later to an insightful educational session held by “Energy Worker” Scott Glauser called “Emotional Fitness”. This would be followed by dinner, an optional treatment at Wellfit’s well-appointed spa (offering facials, massages, medi-cupping and even emotional release therapies), with our busy day ending in a deep slumber in our private casitas (adorned with spacious soaking tubs, a fireplace and king-sized beds). Tomorrow, and for the rest of the week, our days would be largely structured the same way, though with different hiking trails, fitness classes and education sessions. To be sure, with a compassionate staff who are available to guide you at almost every turn, it was difficult to feel anything but grateful.

The recently-opened resort (formerly the home of Green Valley Spa), located in the spiritual setting of St. George, offers what virtually anyone looking to make vast improvements to their health and wellness could possibly need. It is not the place for those looking to be pampered. Rather, the program places a strong emphasis on becoming fitter and reconfiguring one’s diet. But it is done with a large degree of thoughtfulness. There is a jam-packed activity schedule that is intended to be compulsory, but the instructors don’t adhere to the tough love approach that you may find at other fitness and weight loss retreats. Guests come to Wellfit Zion for support, and the team here possesses the emotional intelligence to recognize that most will be turned off by too many expectations too soon; or by judging one’s success solely by the empirical results shown on a bathroom scale. “At Wellfit Zion we believe it’s not about what you lose, but about what you gain,” says founder Tami Clark, who ran previously similar programs elsewhere in Utah and in Malibu, California. “It seems everyone who comes and experiences this program makes lasting changes to their health and fitness, and they also become part of a supportive family.” As for the key to being able to sustain the healthy habits post-vacay. Tapusoa’s philosophy is quite simple: make small, incremental improvements to your diet over time, and only do workouts you enjoy. “You need to find activities that you have fun with. If you hate the treadmill here, the chances of you wanting to work out on a treadmill when you’re back at home are zero.”

To be sure, we were offered a variety of classes to suit our individual fitness personalities. After our morning hikes, there was a fascial tissue stretch class led by instructor Leann Coleman called “Fascinator”, which alternated with stretch, yoga and meditation sessions. (These classes, along with a number of our hikes, were made more special with the Quartz Crystal Singing Bowls, courtesy of Sound Healing expert Eddie Ballesteros). Afternoons were filled with Bootcamps, Circuit training, TRX, Strength, Hip Hop Cardio or Zumba classes, along with the aforementioned emotional fitness seminars, along with nutrition classes. And of course, there was a scheduled half-day hike to the resort’s namesake, Zion National Park, where guests hike the gorgeous terrain to see the lovely “Emerald Pools” (those who are more brave can try the famous “Angel’s Landing” hike). There was also an afternoon off which was well-spent at charming Kayenta Art Village nearby, where visitors can check out handi-works, jewelry and skin care products made by local artists.

The set-up at Wellfit Zion is almost like an adult summer camp, and it was hard to say goodbye to everyone after this intense but enjoyable week. But Wellfit’s program distinguishes itself from other fitness resorts by providing a terrific aftercare program. To wit, Executive Chef Sam Baker provides recipes of some of his dishes to try at home, and there is a closed Facebook group called “Momentum” where former guests can stay in touch and encourage one another long after their stay. And for those who feel the need to return for a refresher? Well, they will surely be welcomed back to Wellfit Zion with open arms.

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A member of the Travel to Wellness team and regular contributor, Lynn was a guest at Wellfit Zion in December, 2017.

TTW also visited Red Mountain Resort in Utah