This was in the plan from the word go, when Elisabet and I met in St Louis in February she told me she had been to this place in Utah six years ago, and how amazing it was to walk in the red mountains, freeing, beautiful and a good place for the soul. At the time she went it was licensed by The Biggest Loser, but they have since parted company. We decided it would be good for both of us to go together, and once I decided to retire it would then be a springboard on to the next part of my journey.
I must say that I was quite wary when the time came, the unknown and all that, was I up to it, could I cope with hours of exercise every day. Elisabet said to me on Sunday morning, ‘You're quiet’. A sure sign I have things on my mind. The pictures below show the changing landscape as we move through the mountains, taken from inside the mini bus.
We were up early, packed and an early breakfast at Denny’s, and an Uber to the airport, we had certainly had a lot of fun in Vegas, was this going to be as much fun? Well I can tell you one thing, by the time I started writing this it was eight days later, I haven't had time to write in the whole week apart from one hour I clawed back for myself on Friday, after the 5k race, when I was able to finish the Vegas chapter of my story. As I am writing this it's a very sad day in Vegas, after the biggest mass shooting in the US, the latest count I saw was 58 dead and 518 injured, horrific, and to think it's only eight days since I was there. At breakfast in my hotel this morning the mood was very somber and the news has, needless to say, been one long bulletin on the situation. I was so happy whilst I was there, it is such a place of fun, and I am sure it will take some time for the people and the community itself to recover, it's so sad how one individual for whatever reason, can destroy so many people's lives in a matter of minutes. Anyway, I am not going to say anymore on that subject for the moment.
On to the fat farm… that's what I have been calling it until I got there. We had to make our way back to the airport and from there got the St George shuttle. The ride was amazing, desert and then a road which had been carved out of the rock which was absolutely fabulous to drive through, it must have been an engineering feat to build One of our guides later in the week said they used to have to drive for miles around until that road was built. The location of the resort is phenomenal, and all the buildings are set around the swimming pool, every window, every vista has a backdrop of the beautiful red mountains. Breathtaking. The place was called the Movara Fitness resort, it had in the past been affiliated with 'The Biggest Loser', but is now independent and slightly less strict.
On arrival we were weighed in… and given lots of info about our bodies, so I have a lot of muscle, I have to thank my wonderful personal trainer for that, thanks Thomas. But I also have a lot of body fat to lose, no news there then, that's why I was there! Dinner on Sunday was at 5:30. As it was every day in fact, and there wasn't much, salad, a main on a tiny plate and a minute pudding. 1200 calories a day plus 2 snacks. Amazingly I wasn't hungry but when you first see what you get you think you are not going to survive. By the end of the week I didn't even want a salad at every meal and wasn't that hungry, so clearly my stomach has shrunk, which suits me.
Each day followed the same pattern, up at 6, stretch at 6:30 for 30 minutes and breakfast at 7, breakfast was a menu option meal and was probably the best meal of the day. At 8 you had to be ready to go out for a hike, which meant having your water supply sorted, your feet covered in a cream so that your socks and shoes didn't rub, layers of clothing, ready to remove top layers as it heated up, not that it was that cold at 8am. Meet at the front to find which bus you were going on. One the first day all the newbies went off together to work out their abilities. We did a lot of uphill that day, certainly got the heart rate going, well mine anyway, some were able to go so fast I was staggered. Elisabet was one of the fast ones I have to say, I was amazed at the speed with which she could walk and climb. I wasn't the last, but I wasn't fast. I had taken my Nordic poles with my but they were quite difficult on the terrain at times. We reached the target point of the hike and then came back a different way and even though we had climbed a lot we still seemed to be going up a lot to get down, yes I know seemed crazy to me too. Anyway I made it that was the main thing, I was quite relieved, but then I found out all the fast hikers had gone on somewhere else, so that made me feel a little pathetic. The guides were great and not at all judgemental if you have a problem they help you, and they encourage but also recognise if you have reached your limit. The views up in the mountains were just amazing, I keep using that word, I will have to think of some others to describe them.
When we return to base, as week one people we have to attend a lecture, then lunch, salad soup and a main. Then another lecture after lunch and then three 45 minute exercise classes in a row, with a much needed 15 minute break in between and class. The last class was a choice of pool exercises or stretch. On the first day I opted for stretch because I was being nervous about being a non swimmer in the pool. But after day one I did the pool every day, and it was glorious outside in the sunshine, and nothing hurt until you got out, then everything hurt every day. Then the highlight of the day dinner with a tiny pudding, and another lecture.
It was a hard regime, and by 8pm we were both in bed and usually asleep by 9:30. It was lights out at 10pm and then up again at six. My whole body ached and after every exercise event, when you sat down, it was the standing up that was difficult, people walking very strangely because their legs no longer function. Someone named it the Movara walk after the centre. I can report though that my feet were holding up very well after all the issues I had had in the first couple of weeks.
The 45 sessions were a variety of cardio and strength, weights, HIIT, dance and of course circuits. I managed well in most of them and enjoyed nearly all of them. I even managed to do a bit of running to various rocks and signs outside the building in the circuits. Don't laugh, it must have been a sight is all I can say. But once again I must thank Thomas Dawkins for all the training we did together, because of the huge variety of things we did, I was really able to cope quite well.
The pool was really interesting for me. I am a non swimmer ever since the woman who tried to teach me in secondary school, Leigh Girls Grammer School, used to wave a big stick at us, I haven't forgotten and have never learnt to swim as a result. I did have some lessons once and managed a width without drowning. Over the past few years when I go to Reykjavik I have been going to the old pool in the centre just behind Hallgrímskirkja, Sundhöll Reykjvikur on Barónsstígur. I love it for lots of reasons, because it's old and it has two lovely hotspots and a steam room outside, but it also has a children's swimming pool and I have managed to learn to float in there. By holding onto the rail I can float successfully for quite a while and I can now even let go of the rail. I have yet to learn to put my feet down whilst not holding on, then I think I will feel safer and be able to float more confidently. I think that is the place I will be able to learn to swim, but we will see.
Anyway I only digress because it shows my level of incompetence in the water. However doing the water aerobics I was perfectly able to do everything except the swimming, which there wasn't much of, what's more I enjoyed it enormously and so have decided it's something I need to take up and I am going to work on my confidence in the water whilst I am away, you never know what may come out of it as I would dearly love to be able to swim. So water added to my exercise agenda.
One of the other things we did was boxing, which I have done with Thomas a few times and always enjoy, but never worked in a class scenario and it was so much fun, another exercise class to add to the agenda.
When I saw how many lectures there were I was a bit non plussed especially as some of them clashed with some classes I would have liked to take like Pilates and Barre. But I have to admit they were really good, they weren't just about diet, but a wide range of topics, including why we over eat and how the brain works discussing topics such as anxiety and depression, how they can become cyclical and how we can lift ourselves out of these cycles. I know why I overeat and possibly, clears throat, over drink too, being honest, all those empty calories. But actually what I learnt has really helped me put it into perspective. Also I learnt how to plan to lose weight. So I have a plan, but the great news for me was that whilst I was there I lost 7.3 lbs and 9 inches off my vital statistics which is not bad for a week and a good kickstart to the next year.
So that's enough of the exercise classes, lectures and diet talk. I really wanted to say a bit about the hikes which were also quite life changing for me.
I talked about the day one hike earlier, day two I was put in the beginners group, phew is all I could say! Even intermediate seemed too hard to me. We were taken to a couple of places of interest on the way, one of which was a small canyon named after a young woman called Jenny who was inspired by the Snow Canyon State Park, very beautiful and almost spiritual.
We then went on and starting climbing up and clambering through some gaps, eventually out guides decided to take us up to Piano Rock. They pointed out this tiny grand piano looking structure on the top of a mountain. I said how do we get up there? Oh it's ok I was told, we follow that line and then we go up the side there and once we are on top it's easy! Ha ha
Well I made it most of the way, but when it came to the going up the side bit, I was suddenly overwhelmed by just how high up I was already and I not being very good with heights as I mentioned earlier, i realised there was no way on earth I could go any higher. The guides were great. They got everyone else up, which was no mean feat, and then one of them came back and took me down another way. I have to admit whilst sitting there alone, I became very tearful, disappointed in myself that I was too afraid, but I also knew it wasn't just the getting up there, I would also be afraid when up there. So I was safely returned to the van and we went to pick up people in a couple of places. We had a good chat on the way down and of course they have seen it all so I didn't feel quite so stupid. I don't think I am going to conquer my fear of heights at the age of 64 somehow, but I was pleased with what I did achieve in the climb. The photographs below show our progress through the hike, view them from the bottom up.